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Lifecycle Events

The Cycle of Jewish Life

Congregation Kol Ami of Frederick is here to assist our congregants in celebrating all life cycle events. Our clergy and trained congregants work to make these moments of transition and celebration resonate with purpose and meaning. For assistance or information, contact our Life Cycle Coordinator at lifecycle@kolamifrederick.org, or the Rabbi at rabbi@kolamifrederick.org.

Birth & Naming Rituals     /     Consecration     /     Bar/Bat Mitzvah     /     Adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Confirmation     /     Aufrauf     /     Kiddushin (Marriage/Commitment)     /     Conversion
Call to the Torah     /    Death & Mourning

Birth and Naming Rituals:
Welcoming Words For All Kinds of Families

We celebrate the arrival of the youngest members of our community with the traditions of b’rit milah (circumcision and naming of baby boys, usually on the eighth day after birth and often in the home), simchat bat (the relatively new celebration of the birth of a daughter, either in a home or at the synagogue), naming rituals and adoption ceremonies. We will work with you to make these moments as meaningful as possible: finding a mohel (to perform the circumcision), crafting the Jewish ceremony that suits your families needs, balancing the needs of interfaith families, adoptive parents, or other circumstances with the rituals and customs of our Jewish tradition.

Consecration:
The Honey on the Page

Our tradition tells us that at the commencement of religious learning, as a young child began his or her formal education in Jewish texts, a swab of honey was placed on the pages of a book, and a “taste” given to the student – so that the study of Torah would ever be “sweet” in our mouths, and our minds. At Kol Ami we welcome our youngest Religious School students into the “study of Torah” with a ceremony of Consecration – a celebration of learning and the presentation of miniature Torah scrolls that often is linked with the holiday of Simchat Torah (the occasion on which the last words of Deuteronomy and the first words of Genesis are read on the same night, on which an unrolled Torah surrounds and embraces the congregation, and on which we dance with the scrolls.) We enter into our study of sacred texts with joy, celebration and love.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah:
Teachers of Torah, Leaders of Prayer

"We come together this Shabbat to celebrate a special moment in the life of our congregation.” These words, part of the blessing we recite over our young people on the occasion of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, include within them the joy and pride of a current accomplishment – and the promise of future commitment. Our B’nai Mitzvah (plural of Bar/Bat Mitzvah) see themselves as part of a chain of tradition – and see this day not as an end, but the beginning of a new level of Jewish life. They serve, indeed, as “teachers of Torah” and “leaders of prayer”: taking a role in leading the liturgy of the service, as well as delving into both the history of an ancient text, and its application in our lives today. For further information on our Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program, contact Tamar Osterman, Life Cycle Coordinator, lifecycle@kolamifrederick.org

Adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah:
It’s Never Too Late

Jewish tradition says that we begin “counting” our lives again once we turn 70. So for the 83-year olds among us, it is time to celebrate Bar/Bat Mitzvah all over again. As it is, as well, for those who never had the opportunity to become Bar or Bat Mitzvah when they turned 13. For Jews-by-choice, for women raised in a tradition which did not treat girls equally, for those who were raised without formal Jewish education, or for any of a number of other reasons, many adults are choosing to go through a cycle of learning and study, preparation and personal growth that leads to this powerful and deeply moving celebration of Jewish accomplishment. Those interested in finding out more about the Adult Bar or Bat Mitzvah program at Kol Ami should speak with our clergy.

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B'nei Mitzvah Resources
Making it Count: Guidelines for Becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah
This guide is designed to help you make the most of your Jewish journey. Focusing on the values that are most important in our tradition, you will explore together what commitments you can make to bring these principles to life. Judaism has a lot of special wisdom to offer, but only you can make it real.
Torah and Haftarah MP3s
Use your iPod for your Bar and Bat Mitzvah preparation: Torah and Haftarah portions available for download as MP3 files.
The Art of Torah Cantillation - A Step-by-Step Guide to Chanting Torah by Cantor Marshall Portnoy and Cantor Josee Wolff
This unique, step-by-step book and compact disc package will lead the novice through each step of learning how to chant Torah. Divided into 13 lessons and additional useful appendices and bibliography, the book allows the reader to 'self-teach' the important principles of Torah cantillation. The only pre-requisite for this course of learning is a basic ability to read Hebrew and a willingness to learn! Includes CD of corresponding recordings

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Confirmation:
The Power of a Promise

All the B’nai Mitzvah at our congregation are asked to promise to continue their Jewish education through at least the end of Tenth Grade. The power of this pledge has led to a Confirmation program of depth, meaning and quality. Those who have gone through Confirmation at Kol Ami speak of what that year, and its culmination, meant to them. They lead a service including their own words and reflections: a living Midrash (interpretation) and personal reframing of the prayers of Jewish life. In these ways, and more, we teach our soon-to-be young adults to “own” their Jewish identity.

Aufrauf:
A Festive Celebration for a Sweet Life Together

Aufrauf is derived from German and Yiddish, and means “calling up.” On a Shabbat preceding a wedding ceremony, the chatan (groom) and kallah (bride) and their families are invited to attend services, during which the bride and groom are called together to the Bimah. Traditionally, the bride and groom will share an aliyah together in acknowledgement of their upcoming wedding. The rabbi recites a special prayer called a Mi-Shebeirach, expressing the community’s prayers that they establish a Jewish home filled with love and companionship. As the couple descends the bimah, the congregation showers the couple with sweets, such as raisins, marshmallows or candy, to symbolize a sweet beginning to their soon-to-be married life together.

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Kiddushin:
Forming a Family

Kiddushin is the Hebrew word for “marriage.” It comes from the same root as kodesh, which means “holy.” Both words contain within them the implication of “sacred” as “set aside, unique, unlike anything else.” The bond we form with a life-partner is meant to be just that – the most sacred, the most special, the most exclusive and unique relationship in our lives. At Kol Ami we celebrate the formation of Jewish families through the traditions of our people. We know that Jewish families today come in many different forms, and couples looking ahead to a wedding or commitment ceremony should speak directly with one of our clergy.

Conversion:
“Stepping In” to Jewish Life

Rabbi Ruth Sohn wrote that “to take the first step – to sing a new song – is to close one’s eyes and dive into unknown waters, for a moment knowing nothing, risking all… but then to discover… the waters are friendly, the ground is firm.” In an age without religious coercion, it can be said that we are all “Jews-by-choice.” But we know that, throughout our history, there have always been those who sought us out, who joined our ranks, and who made us stronger by the act of their commitment. All those who join the Jewish people do so with their own unique stories, their own sacred journeys, through their own personal choice. Our clergy work with those exploring Judaism, whatever the outcome of that exploration may be. We provide gateways to Jewish life and entrance points to Jewish learning. And our students, in their journeys, often become our teachers through their words, their deeds, and their lives.

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Call to the Torah:
Celebration and Affirmation of the Cycles of our Lives

Anniversaries and special occasions, birthdays and milestones, all these are moments of celebration, private benchmarks which our tradition encourages us to share with others on the public “platform” of our communal worship. “Mishebeirach Avotainu v’Imoteinu, May the One who blessed our ancestors… be with us as well… at all these special moments of our lives.” Aliyot (being called up to the Torah and reciting the blessings over the reading of the scroll) and blessings from the bimah (the raised platform from which the scroll is read and the service is “led”), participation in the service or recognition from within the congregation are part of our congregation’s life, and an important aspect of our connection with one another.

Death and Mourning:
The Final Transition

“Birth is a beginning, and death a destination.” The most universal and powerful moments in our lives are the end points of the journey – the moment we come into this world, and the moment we leave it. At Kol Ami we are here to provide a loving and supportive setting for the most painful of all transitions: the struggle and the mourning associated with the end of life. Our clergy and trained congregants work with the congregation to learn about Jewish customs and practices surrounding death and mourning, plan for and conduct funeral and shivah minyan services (services traditionally held in the homes of mourners in the days immediately following a funeral), and serve as a caring “bridge” for families navigating the details of dealing with hospitals, funeral homes, and cemeteries. We are here, as well, for counsel and whatever comfort we can provide in the face of sadness and tragedy and loss.

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