Life Cycle Events
Brit Milah (Circumcision) & Simchat Bat (Welcoming a Baby Girl)
Tradition has long ordained circumcision for every male child on their eighth day of life. We affirm the power of introducing our babies into the covenant, and seek to extend a non-physical version of this to girls as well. Upon birth or adoption of a baby of either gender, call our clergy. We can provide recommendations for a mohel (circumcisor) as well as liturgies for an at-home ceremony to welcome your baby. Please advise our Life Cycle chairpeople as well as your Village coordinators so that you can enjoy the support of the larger community through this joyous transition.
A few months after your baby has been welcomed into the covenant, we look forward to welcoming her or him into our community as well. Call the office to schedule a shabbat morning when you can bring your new addition, along with friends or family, to services. You may have an aliyah (be called to the Torah), and have the chance to say a few words about your baby's name and its significance, and to receive blessings and mazel tovs from your community.
Our tradition tells us that a Jew becomes responsible for observing the commandments upon his or her thirteenth birthday, with or without a ceremony, and thus becomes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Nevertheless, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony has long been a powerful and popular life cycle ritual in the Jewish community. It marks acceptance of responsibility—becoming a mitzvah person—before the congregation, the local Jewish community, and the Jewish people at large. It also marks the achievement of a minimum level of Jewish knowledge and synagogue skills, and a commitment to Jewish living.
Weddings and Commitment Ceremonies
Mazel tov! Life partnerships are to be treasured and celebrated. Call the office to schedule an aufruf on a shabbat shortly before your ceremony, when the community can bless your union in advance. And speak directly with our clergy about possible officiation; both availability and ability are handled on a case-by-case basis. Each clergyperson's criteria for officiation (on issues such as the religious background of both partners, distance of the wedding from Washington, and timing of a ceremony within the Jewish week or Jewish year) differ; the gender of either participant, however, is not a criterion.
Funerals and Mourning
Jewish tradition provides a rich variety of rituals and practices that honor the dead and allow mourners to adjust to the loss of a loved one. An important role of the Adat Shalom community is to assist members during these difficult life transitions, providing spiritual and emotional support. A Guide to Jewish Funeral and Mourning Practices provides a brief description of traditional and contemporary Jewish ritual practices and explains the type of support provided by the clergy, Life Cycle Committee, and Congregation. The Guide also includes information about services provided by the broader Jewish community, and specific information useful to someone who is faced with the death of a loved one.
Adat Shalom has purchased a section at the Garden of Remembrance Memorial Park, Gan Zikaron, a nonprofit Jewish cemetery in Northern Montgomery County. Plots can be purchased through the Adat Shalom office. Call the Executive Director at 301-767-3333, ext.107 to learn more and to discuss your needs.
Should a death occur in your immediate circle, please call one of our clergy, a Life Cycle chairperson, or the office. Whoever you reach first will in turn notify the others, and the community will be there for you as quickly as possible.
Tahara is the ritual pouring of water before dressing the met for burial. Also refers to the entire service. Participation in tahara is a mitzvah of the highest order performed by Jews to honor a deceased person who is Jewish, and Adat Shalom has compiled a "Reconstructionist Tahara Handbook for Women and Men" that contains the service and instructions for performing tahara.
A Yahrzeit is the anniversary of the death of a loved one. It is traditionally observed on the Hebrew date of death (which can vary from the Gregorian date by up to a few weeks in any given year) by lighting a 25-hour candle the night before, and by coming to synagogue to say Kaddish. At Adat Shalom, we read the names aloud (usually near noon-time) on the Shabbat before the individual’s Yahrzeit – and when the Yahrzeit happens to fall on Shabbat, names are read twice, both on the previous Shabbat and on the day the Yartzheit is observed. Information about having your loved ones name read can be found here.
When we remember them for a blessing, the departed live on among us, as a blessing. We encourage you to allow us to honor your loved one’s memory, now and in the future. Zichronam livracha…