Life Cycle

Birth, Marriage, Conversion & More

Our sense of community is deepened through sharing rites of passage. The information that follows will help you plan your events. Please notify the office about births, Simchahs, and life events in your family. The Beth Shalom Mitzvah Corps is ready to help families in times of joy and in times of sadness. We announce news about congregants at Shabbat services in order to foster communal support for members.

Births

The office has a Hebrew name book for parents mulling over names for new arrivals. Our Rabbis work with prospective parents and families to plan for Brit Milah (ritual circumcision) or Simchat Bat (covenanting ceremonies for daughters) and baby namings.

Brit Milah/Pidyon Haben – (Ceremonies for Boys)

In Seattle there are several Mohelim (those trained and sanctioned to perform ritual circumcision). Our Rabbis can participate in the Brit Milah by announcing the name of the child and giving a D’var Torah at the ceremony. It is important that you coordinate scheduling with the Senior or Assistant Rabbi and the Mohel before announcing the time to family and friends. Our Rabbis cannot guarantee their presence if they are not consulted before the time is set. Please contact the Rabbi’s Assistant for a complete list of approved Mohelim.

The Mitzvah of Pidyon Haben is fulfilled by redeeming a first born son 30 days after his birth. Parents should consult the Senior or Assistant Rabbi to ascertain whether the Mitzvah applies to them as there are several exemptions and exceptions.

Baby Namings and Brit Bat – (Ceremonies for Girls)

Traditionally, the birth of a girl was celebrated when her father came to the synagogue on the Shabbat immediately after the birth and announced the child’s Hebrew name during an Aliyah at the Torah service. At Beth Shalom, we encourage both parents to be present at the naming. The timing of the naming is flexible to allow both parents to attend. It is customary for the family or extended family to sponsor the Kiddush in honor of the baby and parents. Please schedule your baby naming through the Rabbi’s Assistant.

It is also customary for families to have a covenanting ceremony for daughters known as a Simchat Bat. The Simchat Bat consists of a series of blessings and prayers that welcome the daughter into the Covenant of Israel. Our Rabbis are available to help plan and officiate at these ceremonies.

Marriage

Both the Senior and Assistant Rabbi provide premarital counseling for engaged couples and assistance in planning Jewish wedding ceremonies for straight and same sex couples. Please contact the Rabbi’s Assistant to set appointments. The congregation owns both a fixed and a portable Chuppah, which may be rented through the synagogue office. Please speak with the Rabbis to learn more about Sheva B’rachot (wedding feasts) in the days following the ceremony. We encourage couples to have a special Aliyah prior to their marriage, called an Aufruf. Please contact the Rabbi’s Assistant to schedule an Aufruf.

Conversion

Beth Shalom as a community welcomes persons who seek to convert to Judaism under the framework of the Conservative movement. Conversion is a highly individualized process that involves intensive study and involvement in the life of the synagogue. Prospective converts learn under the guidance of the Senior or Assistant Rabbi and usually enroll in the Living Judaism program. This course serves as both an introduction to Judaism for Jews looking to deepen their knowledge, non-Jewish partners of Jews, and as the required course for conversion students. The period of study preceding conversion involves the Shabbat Learners’ Minyan, weekly classes in both Living Judaism and Hebrew, mentorship with an observant synagogue family, synagogue ritual, home observance, and other aspects of congregational life (festival and life-cycle events). Individuals seeking conversion to Judaism should consult with one of our Rabbis.

Divorce

The Senior and Assistant Rabbi are available to provide short-term counseling for couples undergoing severe marital stress. They also serve as a Shaliach (representative) of the Rabbinical Assembly Beit Din (religious court) of Los Angeles, which arranges for Gitim (Jewish divorce documents). Conservative Jewish law requires that every divorcing couple obtain a Get (a Jewish writ of divorce). Please call  or email the Rabbi’s Assistant if you need support in this sensitive area.

Illness

Through the Mitzvah Corps, which is organized and staffed by congregants, Beth Shalom is able to help members who are ill and their families. The Mitzvah Corps will send members to visit the hospital, cook meals, and provide other support for families in need. Please contact the Mitzvah Corps chair and/or the Rabbi’s Assistant.

It is the custom of our congregation to announce the names of sick members and relatives during the Torah service. Please contact Marjie Cogan if you wish to have your loved one included on the list for Refuah Shlemah (prayer for complete recovery) found in the Shabbat announcement sheet.

Death and Mourning

In the case of a death in the family, please first contact the Seattle Jewish Chapel at (206) 721-0970. They will help with arrangements for your loved one. The next step is to immediately contact Rabbi Borodin or Rabbi Rose. Our rabbis will help you in the process that follows. Please call the CBS office, (206) 524-0075 for instructions on how to reach our rabbis in an emergency.

Congregation Beth Shalom is prepared to provide comfort and support during times of grief and mourning. The Senior or Assistant Rabbi should be informed immediately of a death in the family. The Rabbis will give you timely guidance on funeral arrangements and are available to provide comfort and solace during difficult times. The Rabbis will also coordinate with the Mitzvah Corps to help with Shiva Minyanim and condolence meals.

The congregation will assist at many points in the mourning process: informing others, funeral attendance, condolence meals, and Shiva Minyanim. For Shiva Minyanim, the office has a supply of Shiva candles, books on mourning, and a supply of Siddurim. For information on who to contact when a death occurs or for more information about Beit Shalom Cemetery, please see our cemetery page.

A bequest is an expression of your wishes embedded in a will or trust that direct how your assets will be distributed upon death. Without such a document, the state will decide who will receive your estate assets. With appropriate planning, a bequest can provide very attractive tax benefits to the donor during his/her lifetime, while reducing or eliminating levies against his/her estate after death.

For more information on establishing a bequest, please see our Life and Legacy page, or contact the Executive Director.

Memorial Contributions

Honoring a loved one through a direct contribution or donation is also common. If you would like to make such a gift, please contact the Front Office for more information on how to make that happen or visit our donation page.

Life Cycle Events for Non-Members

The Senior and Assistant Rabbi are sometimes available to officiate at the funerals, birth ceremonies, and weddings of people who are not members of Congregation Beth Shalom. If their schedule will not permit them to officiate, they will gladly refer nonmembers to a colleague. When one of the Beth Shalom rabbis does officiate, the synagogue charges a nonmember fee for their services.

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