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Interfaith Lifecycle Events

With pleasure, Beth El Synagogue invites non-Jewish parents and grandparents to participate in life cycle celebrations and portions of any rituals not mandated under halakhah [hah-la-KHA], Jewish Law.

Brit Milah & Simchat Bat
[breet mee-LAH] or Bris [briss] means Covenant of Circumcision and takes place eight days after the birth of a boy. [SIM-kha BAHT] means celebration of a Daughter and takes place within the first year of life. At both ceremonies, a child receives their Hebrew name.

Parents will Meet with Rabbi Abraham regarding:
  - The elements of a Brit Milah (Bris) or Simcha Bat
  - Opportunities for the non-Jewish spouse to participate, e.g. lead readings in English

Choose from a selection of English readings, offered by the rabbi, to be read by the non-Jewish parent. Join with your Jewish spouse to bear witness as the mohel [moil], a person who performs Jewish circumcisions, completes the ritual

Create your own ceremony for a Simchat Bat, subject to the rabbi’s approval

Participate in the selection of the child’s Hebrew name 

If the mother is the non-Jewish spouse, our clergy will officiate at the Brit Milah with the understanding that this is the first step in the child’s conversion, to take place a short time after the Bris. 

The clergy will gladly officiate at the Simchat Bat after the child’s conversion.

Bar or Bat Mitzvah
Non-Jewish family members (immediate family) are welcome on the Bima for all life cycle events, including Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

It will be the policy of Beth El Synagogue to include the names of both parents in the English blessing, which asks that they teach their child to grow up following the laws of the Torah.

During a Bar/Bat Mitzvah both parents are invited on the Bima to participate in the English prayer at the onset of the Torah Service, and to walk around the sanctuary in the Torah procession.

Interfaith couples whose children are getting married are encouraged to meet with Rabbi Abraham regarding the elements of a Jewish wedding and opportunities for a non-Jewish parent to participate in the marriage ceremony.

Among opportunities to participate are:
Bearing witness to the signing of the ketubah [keh-TOO-bah] (marriage contract) before the ceremony
Walking your child down the aisle
Standing at the huppah [hoo-PAH] (wedding canopy) during the ceremony

Death and Mourning
The Rabbi is always available to discuss Jewish burial and mourning practices, and along with the Cantor, is available for comfort and support throughout this difficult time.

The following are ways a non-Jewish person may participate:

Deliver a eulogy at the funeral
Speak at the religious service at home, Shivah [SHI-vah], or at a memorial service
Participate as a pall bearer
Participate in the custom of Filling the Grave, the final ritual act of honoring the dead
Recite the Mourners’ Kaddish [KAH-dish], memorial prayer, and light a yahrzeit [YAR-tzite], memorial candle, at home during the seven day mourning period and on the anniversary of a loved one’s death

For those who cannot read Hebrew, Beth El Synagaogue will provide the Mourner’s Kaddish prayer transliterated into English.

Burial policy change for non-Jewish spouses and dependent children
On January 8, 2014, the Board of Trustees overwhelmingly approved a change to our synagogue by-laws, allowing non-Jewish spouses and their dependent children to be buried at Beth El Cemetery. In order to maintain our promise to those already buried at Beth El Cemetery, this new policy will apply to a specific section in the Beth El Cemetery expansion. In that section, interfaith couples will be permitted to be buried, in addition to any of our members who choose to be buried there as well.

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784