Life Cycle events
Celebrations of individual
life (Handout: Life Cycle Events)
ritual circumcision, most ancient of Jewish practices originating with Abraham,
a sign of the covenant and official entrance into the faith [see Gen.
17:10-14, 23-27]; a naming ceremony is also held, within the first
year, for both boys and girls in which they receive a Hebrew name.
Coming of age:
(son- daughter of the commandments): automatic at age 13, taking adult
responsibilities of the faith, signaled by first reading of torah in Sabbath
service, celebratory party with friends and family follows. The Bar Mitzvah
itself is the religious ceremony during service, not the party!
(Orthodox: only for boys, girls do not read from Torah but have an
equivalent "coming of age" ceremony at age 12)
contemporary addition in reform and conservative synagogues, takes place
around 10th grade as the childís intentional commitment to the faith and
conclusion of childhood religious education. Involves the entire confirmation
class participating in service around the time of the late spring festival of
sealed by a religious legal document (ketubah) signed by each spouse
before the Rabbi and witness (who also sign it); Rabbi officiates over the
ceremony held under a canopy (chupah); breaking of the wine glass by
groom at end of ceremony symbolizes the destruction of the ancient Temple - even
in times of personal happiness (e.g., marriage) the sorrows of the Jewish people
is permitted but is taken seriously; a religious legal document (get)
is required to break the ketubah agreement.
ideally takes place within 24 hours, in a plain pine box with the body is
wrapped in plain linen shroud (equality of economic classes), "mournerís
kaddish" prayer is recited at graveside by immediate survivors - this
prayer says nothing about death but expresses hope for the future even in
the face of death (a prayer found in the Jewish prayer book and recited at
the end of every worship service).
immediate next-of-kin sit shiva for seven days, not leaving the house
with friends and other relatives visiting for consolation and fond remembering
of the departed, they usually bear food (the mourners ought not have to
concern themselves with mundane chores e.g. preparing meals), it is considered
a mitzvot (good deed) to visit the bereaved; a memorial (yahrziet) candle is
lit to last throughout the 7 day mourning period; a black ribbon is cut and
worn for 30 day period symbolizing oneís sorrow; less harsh mourning
continues for 11 months by which time a monument should be placed on the
grave; visitors to the grave site do not leave cut flowers (they are dead) -
often one will see stones placed on the monument indicating that someone has
anniversary of the death is remembered with a 24 hour yahrziet candle and
special recitation of the "mournerís kaddish" prayer during
worship; the memory candle is also lit during certain festival holidays.
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