We welcome the opportunity to celebrate sacred moments in the lives of all BJ members.
Baby Naming and Brit Milah (Ritual Circumcision)
Baby naming and Brit Milah rituals are celebrated for children of all Jewish and multifaith families. For baby namings in the context of Shabbat morning prayer services, all members of the immediate family will be welcomed to the bimah for a family aliyah (the ritual of approaching and blessing the Torah when it is chanted), and a blessing will be bestowed upon the baby.
For a Brit Milah, families are invited to contact the mohalim/mohalot (those trained to perform the ritual circumcision). It can take place at home, in a BJ space (click here for rental information), or at the hospital provided the appropriate ritual procedure is performed. Brit Milah is expected for Jewish baby boys. Parents of patrilineal Jewish boys who desire for their children to be able to celebrate their B’nai Mitzvah at BJ will also be required to bring them to the mikvah.
Children who are adopted from families who are not Jewish, and children born of surrogate mothers who are not Jewish, should be converted with the appropriate rituals of Brit Milah/Hatafat Dam Brit and/or mikvah.
We look forward to children who have grown up at BJ, or who are newer to the community, becoming a Bar/Bat mitzvah. All children of matrilineal descent, those who have been converted, and patrilineal children who have gone to the mikvah to affirm their Jewish identity are invited to celebrate their Bar/Bat Mitzvah at BJ. Children are expected to be enrolled in a Jewish communal educational setting, whether Kadima@BJ or a Jewish day school. Families with special needs children are asked to contact the rabbis, or the Director of Family Life and Learning, who will be happy to explore appropriate options. We seek to honor the strengths and abilities of all children, and will help to create a meaningful experience for them and their families.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah rituals are celebrated in a manner that is inclusive of all family members, be the family Jewish or multifaith. All will be welcome to the bimah for a family aliyah, and parents will be invited to recite the special “Sheptarani” blessing, releasing their child to their own destiny.
Jewish marriage celebrations begin with an aliyah to the Torah on a Shabbat prior to the wedding. The aufruf aliyah will be celebrated for all couples in which one partner is matrilineally Jewish or converted.
Using traditional Jewish rituals, as well as newly-adapted ones when appropriate, BJ clergy will officiate at members’ marriages between matrilineal Jews, between those who have converted, between a matrilineal Jew and one who has converted, and between a matrilineal Jew and a patrilineal Jew, regardless of sexual or gender orientation. If a matrilineal Jew, or one who has converted, marries someone of another faith or heritage where there is a shared commitment to establish a Jewish home, and, if there are children, to raise them as Jews, BJ rabbis will officiate at the wedding.
All lifecycle celebrations are thoughtfully planned by our clergy together with the participants and families. If you have specific questions, please reach out to one of our rabbis or our lifecycle coordinator.
Funerals, Burial, and Shiva
The presence of spiritual leadership at a time of grief and mourning is an expression of fellowship, respect, and comfort. As such, BJ rabbis are committed to supporting all BJ members, Jewish and those of other traditions, when a death occurs. As soon as possible after a death, or when a death is anticipated, members are encouraged to call the BJ office so we can acknowledge the death and support the family in whatever way is needed.
BJ clergy will lead local Jewish funeral services for current BJ members (matrilineal, patrilineal, or converted) and their immediate relatives. Tahara and full funeral and burial rites are extended to patrilineal Jews. Tahara is not available to people of other faiths or backgrounds. They will always extend ritual support to such members, be they mourning Jewish relatives or those of other backgrounds, and will always extend pastoral support to BJ members of other backgrounds mourning the loss of their Jewish or non-Jewish relatives.
Some Jewish cemeteries permit the burial of non-Jewish people next to their Jewish relatives in a designated section for multifaith families as per the cemetery’s design. At the present time, the Jewish cemeteries in which BJ owns plots do not allow for such burial, however, there are others in the Tri-state area that do. Sometimes a non-Jewish deceased member who wishes to be buried in a Jewish cemetery next to their Jewish relatives may have practiced another faith. In such circumstances, a BJ rabbi will participate in a funeral service led by their clergyperson by offering a eulogy or reciting a psalm, and will guide the Jewish mourners in the Jewish mourning rituals. If the rabbi presides over the burial, an adapted liturgy will be used.
If the deceased was not a practicing member of another faith, or if they did not have a faith community of their own, and they choose to be buried in a Jewish cemetery next to their Jewish relatives, a BJ rabbi will officiate in an adapted funeral service for them that honors their identity and their relationship to the BJ community.
BJ rabbis will only officiate at burials in Jewish or non-sectarian cemeteries. For non-Jewish members who wish to be buried in a non-Jewish cemetery affiliated with another faith tradition, a BJ rabbi will perform an adapted funeral service at a funeral home prior to the burial. They will attend, though not officiate at, the burial in a non-Jewish cemetery where they will guide the Jewish mourners through the Jewish mourning rituals. Our local funeral home, Plaza Memorial, makes their space available to families of all backgrounds who wish to use it.
For a Jewish member who wishes to be buried in a non-Jewish cemetery affiliated with another faith tradition next to their non-Jewish relatives, a BJ rabbi will perform the funeral service only in a separate funeral home or gathering space.
Although for Jewish members we encourage burial according to Jewish tradition and strongly discourage cremation, Tahara (ritual purification of the body) by the BJ Hevra Kadisha will be available to those who nevertheless choose cremation, and a BJ rabbi will perform a funeral service prior to the cremation. Ashes should be buried in a Jewish cemetery, and BJ rabbis will be available for these burials if cremation is performed.
Those who have converted to Judaism bear the same Jewish status as anyone born Jewish. They should mourn their relatives, Jewish and non-Jewish, according to Jewish law, and observe all mourning rituals and traditions.
For questions regarding funeral and burial rituals, please consult with a BJ rabbi.