Life Cycle

Brit, and Baby Naming Celebration

The traditional welcoming ceremony (brit milah/ bris) for a baby boy includes circumcision by a mohel, an experienced expert in ritual circumcision, on the eighth day from birth. Male circumcision is also part of the traditional welcoming rituals when a child of non-Jewish background is adopted into a Jewish family, and when an adult male converts to Judaism.
Baby girls are welcomed through a brit bat, a covenantal ceremony for girls. This usually takes place on a Shabbat morning as part of the communal celebration. For further details on naming ceremonies, or ceremonies related to adoption or conversion, please contact our Rabbi, Matthew Kaufman.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony is a celebration welcoming a 13 year old into the adult Jewish community.  On this joyous occasion, which takes place at a Shabbat morning service, the Bar or Bat Mitzvah may lead part of the service, chant Torah and haftarah, and teach the congregation about the week’s Torah portion. Students approaching age 13 engage in additional Hebrew study as well as preparation in reading Torah, preparing a lesson on the Torah and leading parts of the service. There is some additional tutoring done under the guidance of lay tutors within the congregation.  The entire process is under the guidance of the rabbi. While the focus is on ritual commandments, families are encouraged to enhance the Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration by engaging in additional mitzvot (commandments) such as acts of social justice that benefit the greater community.  Rabbi Kaufman is available to discuss different ways of enhancing this occasion. Adult Bat Mitzvah services are held from time to time honouring members who have studied and prepared for this meaningful occasion.

Weddings

Rabbi Kaufman is available to officiate at weddings.  The traditional Jewish wedding ceremony can be personalized to meet the special needs of couples.  Individuals who are divorced need to obtain a get, a Jewish divorce, in order to be remarried.  Both weddings and divorces are completely egalitarian in the Reform movement. Please consult Rabbi Kaufman for further details.

Funerals

Rabbi Kaufman is available to members of the congregation for funerals; in his absence, knowledgeable members of the congregation are available to officiate. A funeral service generally follows a simple pattern, including readings from the Psalms in Hebrew and English, a eulogy spoken by family members or the Rabbi, and the recitation of El Malei Rachamim and the Kaddish. Music or additional readings may be included at the family’s request. Iyr HaMelech has its own section of the Cataraqui Cemetery. Please contact Moussa Cohanim.

Mourning Customs

Traditionally, a funeral is followed by shivah, a week of mourning during which grieving family members are visited by friends and prayer services are held in the home.  Iyr HaMelech provides support for its members who are observing shivah in traditional or modified ways.
Shivah is followed by lesser periods of mourning and special memorial services on particular holidays. For more information on mourning customs contact Rabbi Kaufman.

Conversion to Judaism

People interested in exploring Judaism are welcome at Iyr HaMelech.  Individuals undertaking the process of conversion take part in a program of study under the direction of Rabbi Kaufman.  In addition, prospective converts will participate in the life of our community including services and study.  After a period of time, when both the rabbi and the individual are satisfied with the student’s commitment to the Jewish people and to ongoing Jewish learning and growth, the individual will be brought to a beit din (Jewish court). Once accepted by the Beit Din the individual undergoes the traditional rituals (brit milah for men, immersion in a mikvah for both men and women). Converts to Judaism are full members of the Jewish people and valued members of our congregation. Basic questions regarding conversions are answered in a pamphlet put out by the Reform movement.  Rabbi Kaufman is available to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.