Lifecycle Events at Congregation Ahavas Achim

Rituals around Birth: Bris (circumcision) for male babies on the eight day or baby naming for infants of both genders are celebrated for the children or grandchildren of CAA members. In addition, those who have welcomed new children or grandchildren into their families during the past year are offered a special blessing at Rosh Hashanah.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah: The traditional Jewish coming of age ceremony generally occurs when the child turns 13. At CAA it is a most festive affair, that almost the whole congregation attends, along with friends and family from near and far. The bat mitzvah (girl) or bar mitzvah (boy) attends Religious School for years and then works with the rabbi and music director for months in advance in preparation. B’nai mitzvah lead services on Friday night and Saturday morning, read (chanting) directly from the Torah, and teach the assembled congregation about the parasha (weekly Torah reading) using insights from classic texts and modern commentators, synthesized with their own thoughts. A luncheon is generally sponsored by the family and served in the social hall. Some families have other parties or events, as well.

In some cases, older adolescents or adults of any age wish to have a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony. This can happen because the people looking for the ceremony were unable to have one at the traditional age, or did not have a Jewish education until adulthood. CAA’s rabbi can help individuals plan for an educational program and ceremony that fits their circumstances.

Weddings: Many wonderful marriages have started under a chuppah at CAA! The rabbi works with members who wish to be married in the shul to develop a ceremony that combines Jewish tradition and personal elements. An aufruf (ceremony on the Shabbat before the wedding) can be scheduled at the shul, as well as a reception after the ceremony and/or a rehearsal dinner. Contact the Rabbi for more details on what a Jewish wedding entails and contact the Office Manager for information on renting the social hall and on catering.

Illness/Recuperation: CAA’s Caring Committee provides assistance, as needed, to members of the community in times of illness or injury. Caring Committee members can help with transportation, food, and visits. Contact the office to discuss your specific needs.

End of Life: CAA provides support to our members and their families both throughout life and at the end. The Jewish community has a cemetery section within Mondadnock View Cemetery, close to the synagogue, where traditional burial in accordance with Jewish law can be arranged. See the CAA cemetery policy HERE for more detail.

CAA also maintains a volunteer Hevra Kadisha - holy burial society – to provide traditional care to the deceased for those who wish it. The two teams (men’s team for deceased men and women’s team for deceased women) perform tahara – the traditional washing, dressing, and preparation of the body. Members of both teams participate in shmira – watching over the body until burial, ensuring that the deceased person is never left alone. Our members can rest assured that their loved ones will be accorded the dignity and respect that is the hallmark of Jewish burial practices.

Our synagogue community comes together to support those who have suffered a loss. In addition to announcing mourners at regular services and giving them a chance to say Kaddish, special services can also be arranged. CAA members gather at the mourners’ homes or in the synagogue for shiva (the traditional seven days of the initial mourning period); to mark the end of shloshim (the first thirty days of mourning); and for yahrtzeits (anniversary of death according to the Jewish calendar). These gatherings are an opportunity to worship together, to eat together, and to tell and listen to stories about the deceased. Many members find these ritual opportunities to be enormously comforting.

Contact the synagogue office if you want more information about purchasing a cemetery plot or about religious practices around death and dying.

For more information on Jewish lifecycle events and how they are handled at CAA, make an appointment with Rabbi Loewenthal.

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