Ritual and Lifecycle Events

 
At CBH we believe strongly in the power of ritual to mark the seasons and the important moments of our lives. We rely on the bedrock of tradition crafted in wisdom by our ancestors and passed down throughout the generations. We also depend on contemporary insights to create new traditions and rituals with an infusion of carefully chosen words and actions.
 
We believe that ritual can transform people and shape our experiences of the world. It has been a lifeline for the Jewish people in marking their lives. 
 
Today we recognize there are times in our contemporary lives that our ancestors could not imagine—and so there are no traditional prayers or rituals. At CBH, not only do we reconstruct ancient ritual to speak to us in this moment in history, but we also construct new ritual when there is a void. We have found that Judaism and its rich wisdom can speak to us and help us shape these new practices and observances even for circumstances which would have been beyond our ancestor's comprehension.
 
The rabbi, rabbinic intern, music director and lay leaders are here to work with you to craft and share Jewish rituals for the seasons of the year and the cycles of your life. Please call the office if you would like to discuss a common or unique life-cycle ritual (wedding, naming ceremony, conversion, healing, coming out, etc.)
 

Weddings

Wedding and commitment ceremonies work with the beauty of Jewish tradition and connect it to the individuality of each couple. Below you will find some general information regarding CBH policies, requirements and fees.

• It is important for the Rabbi to meet with each couple three or four times before the ceremony in order to get to know you, plan the ceremony and provide some basic counseling.

• We welcome interfaith couples who wish to have a Jewish home and who are committed to raising their children Jewish.

• We like to create an environment where the non-Jewish partner and his or her family are an integral part of the service.

• The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association prevents our Rabbi from co-officiating a ceremony with a clergy member of another religion. We welcome conversation on this matter and will refer you to other rabbis when possible. Please be aware that we do not perform ceremonies on the Sabbath or on most Jewish holidays.

• If you are committed to having our Rabbi perform your ceremony, we would appreciate as much flexibility around the date as possible, due to the Rabbi's busy schedule.

Finances and logsitics

For non-members and those who have been members of CBH for less than one year, there is a fee for the rabbi's services. Please contact the office for more information. As with most things at CBH, in cases of financial hardship, fees can be negotiated. Payment in full is appreciated at the time of services.

There is no fee for members of more than one year; it is customary, however, for congregants to make a donation to the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund to show their appreciation for his work.

Anyone being married by our rabbi is welcome to borrow our community's chuppah for a nominal fee. Please contact the office for more information.

funerals

We are so very sorry for the loss that has brought you to this page.

This page primarily contains nuts and bolts about the logistics and costs related to funerals. If you'd like to read more about Jewish teachings and rituals related to death and mourning, here is a site with traditional teachings and practices, and here is a Reconstructionist site with additional readings and more modern rituals.

Please know that you are always welcome at our Friday night or Saturday morning Shabbat services, or our Sunday family minyan in Decatur, if you seek a minyan in which to say kaddish. Please see the calendar or call the office for more information about times and locations for those services.

The passing of a community member or immediate family of a community member

Both staff and CBH members are eager to offer our support in any way that we can when a member of our community passes away or experiences a death in his or her family. Some ways in which our community offers comfort are

  • Whenever possible, the rabbi visits the grieving family to offer comfort and help them navigate their grief.
  • With the family's permission, our office notifies the community so that individual members can offer their personal support to the family. If there is a shiva or service, we can also send out that information to the community.
  • We can help to arrange for a clergy person to lead shiva and for fellow congregants to help deliver shiva books. If you would like rabbinic support for a shiva service, please call the office to arrange a date and time.
  • We can offer clergy to officiate at a burial or memorial service. However, because we do not have a building at this time, we as a community are not able to host a sanctuary service. Services may either occur at the graveside or in another space arranged by the family or funeral home.

Should a death occur over the weekend, CBH members may send an email or may leave a message on the Rabbi, Executive Director, or President's personal phone. The rabbi will make arrangements to visit the family as soon as he is able. Please understand that even in the face of deep sorrow, Shabbat remains a day of rest in our community. No CBH employee or representative, including the rabbi, should be expected to return calls on Shabbat.

At this time, Rabbi Josh is only able to perform burial or memorial services for current members and their immediate family members.  Please understand that this is not intended in any way to reflect the rabbi or the synagogue’s care, respect, or affection for any other person who is grieving – it is simply a reflection of the extent of our rabbi’s commitments. If you are not a member of CBH or you are a member who is looking for rabbinical services for a friend or more distant relation, please contact the Atlanta Jewish community chaplain, Rabbi Scott Saulson, at rabbi@jfcs-atlanta.org.  

conversions

We honor your desire to learn more about Judaism and about the possibility of seeking conversion.

Like any life journey, people arrive at this place of inquiry in many different ways and for many different reasons.  It is our intention at CBH to honor all people, and we hope to be a safe and welcoming place to explore your interest in Judaism without causing you to feel pressured to undergo conversion at any point along the way.

It is usually helpful for individuals to have some foundation in Jewish learning and community life before they embark on an individualized course of study or conversion process. If you are coming to this page fairly early in your journey, there are several ways to begin to learn more.

  • You are always welcome at our services! We have many visitors each week and people have widely divergent levels of Jewish literacy. Please feel free to ask someone else at the service - either the greeter for the evening or another person at the service - for help navigating the prayerbook or the service in general. If you feel anxious about it, feel free to call the office in advance to let us know you are coming, and we can try to have someone meet you and welcome you.
  • There are several good Introduction to Judaism classes in Atlanta that you might consider. Mitch Cohen teaches a class called Judaism 101 on Sunday mornings at our offices -- we'd be happy to put you in touch so you can get on his email list. The JCC also teaches a class called Derekh Torah (The Way of Torah) that offers a wonderful foundation.  
  • Here are some introductory books we like:

When you feel you have a basic foundation and are ready to begin having individual conversations with a rabbi, please call the office and speak with the rabbi's assistant. 

This conversion process is special; each person expresses their spirituality and religious identities differently and our goal is to match your uniqueness with a structure that has integrity and meaning so that your conversion will honor both you as the individual and the community that you may be joining. That said, here is a document to help set your expectations:

Wishing you a wonderful journey of learning!

Welcoming babies

Baby Naming

The Jewish naming ceremony is a way of welcoming a new baby into the world.

The baby naming ceremony is not only an opportunity to celebrate the birth and introduce the child to the community, but it is also a chance for the community to show their support and commitment to the physical and spiritual well being of the child.

It also allows the parents to explain why a particular name was chosen.

Typically, Jewish parents give their baby a secular name as well as a Hebrew name to express their child’s individuality and unique personality while also enforcing the connection to previous generations and their place within the community. It is this name that will be used at his/her Bar/Bat Mitzvah, religious rituals and ceremonies, marriage, and is the one that will ultimately be passed down to future generations.

For a baby boy, the naming ceremony is referred to as Bris or Brit Milah and usually takes place at a private home eight days following birth as part of the Jewish Ritual Circumcision Naming Ceremony.

The bris milah is simultaneously a performance of the mitzvah of circumcision and a celebration of the newborn child’s entrance into the divine covenant and the Jewish community. The ceremony welcomes the newborn child into the community and the covenant  As the mitzvah is incumbent upon the parents, it is recommended that parents lead as much of the ceremony as they feel comfortable with.

B'nai Mitzvah

In Jewish tradition, one does not have a bar or bat mitzvah; one becomes a bar or bat mitzvah. Bar/bat mitzvah literally means "son/daughter of the commandment." In becoming bar/bat mitzvah, a Jewish person of at least 13 years of age accepts responsibility for following the mitzvot (commandments) and becomes an adult in the eyes of the Jewish community. In partnership with Rabbi Josh and our learning community, our b’nai mitzvah students and their families work to create a unique and meaningful expression of this rite of passage. The process leading up to the event is the key to making the experience meaningful. The bar/bat mitzvah experience offers not only the child but also the whole family a rewarding journey of growth and study. 

Read more about the B'nai Mitzvah Program on our Learning pages.

Wed, June 28 2017 4 Tammuz 5777