Life Cycle Events
Brit Milah (Bris) and Baby Naming
Brit Milah (Bris) and baby namings are the ceremonies that signify bringing our children into the Jewish faith. Traditionally done on the 8th day for boys, and first Shabbat for girls, these ceremonies are a way for the family to celebrate the new life and recognize the importance of Judaism. Since some parents have their boys circumcised at the hospital, it is common for both boys and girls to have a naming ceremony. The naming ceremony can either take place at the family home as a private ceremony, or the family can choose to have a blessing during a Friday Evening Shabbat Service. As Reform Jews, we consider the new child Jewish as long as one of his or her parents is Jewish and the child is being raised solely within the Jewish faith.
We observe and celebrate a child’s becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah during Shabbat morning services. Children becoming B’nei Mitzvah lead much of the service and read from the Torah.
Confirmation is the formal recognition that a young person has ended his or her religious school training. This ceremony usually occurs in the 10th grade, but that is flexible. Unlike a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the ceremony is usually done as a class. And often it is on the holiday of Shavout (where Jews celebrate receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai). At Beth Ahabah, we have our Confirmation Service on a Friday evening in the late spring (usually in May).
We welcome couples committed to building a Jewish family to have their wedding at the Synagogue or officiated by Beth Ahabah clergy at another location respectful of a religious service.
The services of the rabbis and cantor are free to congregational members for all life-cycle events, including weddings. Contributions to a Temple fund in appreciation for their officiating are appropriate, but not required; contributions are at the discretion of the family.
Non-members also are welcome to contact Rabbi Scott Nagel to request that he officiate; he may do so, based upon his availability.
Beth Ahabah welcomes same-sex couples committed to building a Jewish family. Marriage is about the commitment of love and respect; we support and affirm the love that LGBT people share and the families they build.
For more information on Jewish weddings and Beth Ahabah’s services, please see our Jewish Guide to Marriage and Wedding Customs.
The pamphlet has information about:
- Planning a Jewish Wedding
- Premarital Meetings and Counseling
- Photography and Videography
- Wedding Receptions
- State Licensure
- Same-Sex Couples
- Jewish Wedding Customs
- The Wedding Ceremony
- Other Special Situations
The Jewish faith is a non-proselytizing religion. We believe that God loves all people, and that being Jewish is a special distinction that one should only take on if he or she is dedicated to living the values and ideals of the Jewish people.
The conversion process, also known as becoming “Jewish by choice,” usually takes between 9 months and 2 years. There are special circumstances when this is shortened, usually for a person who has already built a Jewish home and family and is active in the synagogue.
The process begins with education: We ask all candidates to enroll in our “Introduction to Judaism Course,” where we explore different components of the Jewish faith, culture and peoplehood. We also recommend a conversion candidate learn basic Hebrew so that he or she can fully participate in worship.
Once someone has started the education process, we recommend that he or she choose one of our rabbis to meet with and discuss the process on a more personal level, which is reflective and self-focused.
Once both the conversion candidate and the rabbi think it is appropriate, the rabbi will organize a Beit Din, or a “religious court” of three learned Jews, usually rabbis. This is not a test, rather a way to officially recognize the Jewish development of the individual. Some candidates choose to visit the mikveh, a ritual bath that signals a change in status. Learn more about the mikveh here.
All candidates finish the conversion process with a ceremony at Beth Ahabah, where friends and family are invited and the candidate—who is now a member of the Jewish faith—has the Torah placed in his or her arms.
Clergy is available to discuss funeral arrangements, especially the funeral service. For more information on Jewish funerals, please see our Jewish Guide to Funeral and Mourning Customs
The pamphlet has information about:
- Prearrangements for Funeral and Burial
- Organ Donation
- What to Do When a Death Occurs
- The Role of the Clergy
- The Role of Friends
- Jewish Mourning Practices
- Special Circumstances
A yahrzeit is the anniversary of the death of a relative, during which you may light a special candle and recite Kaddish. To request that the Congregation acknowledge a yahrzeit, by reciting your relative’s name during services on the anniversary of their death please call (804-358-6757) or email the Temple office.
Beth Ahabah also operates Hebrew Cemetery, a beautiful and historic burial ground located on Shockoe Hill at Fourth and Hospital Streets. For information on Hebrew Cemetery, please click here.
Photo: Hamilton Photography.