Celebrate & Mourn

A Riddle from Sophocles

riddleWhat goes on four feet in the morning,
two feet at noon,
and three feet in the evening?

A human being

because a human being walks on all fours in early life,
on two legs as an adult
and with a walking stick in old age.

A Riddle for You

riddleWho is with you
in joy and sorrow
from birth to death

B’nai Emunah

a community that stands by you
informed by Jewish wisdom and traditions.

Jewish Life

Celebrate life at B'nai Emunah. We're with you for all your life cycle events.Judaism is a dynamic, living and organic spiritual system and heritage which supports our contemporary and spiritual life. Being Jewish means that regardless of how one identifies, whether in cultural, historical, religious, or spiritual terms, each of us should have  enough “-ish” to feel like we belong.  While Judaism is a common bond that unites us, there are just as many “Judaisms” as there are Jewish people.  Normative practice and thought are the springboards from which we all dive, though the form, shape and feeling of each of our leaps varies depending on our life’s experience.

What makes Jewish life meaningful is its storehouse of wisdom, experience and ritual, and the way that these interact and intersect with our daily lives. Connecting with others, celebrating holidays, learning, singing, eating, ritual and Jewish life cycle events are the nexus where Jewish life meets us – wherever we may be along our own journey.

Celebrate Life Cycle Events

Birth – Bris/Simchat Bat

babyWhat a joy to welcome your baby boy or girl to the world and to the Jewish people!  We gather together with blessings and each child is given a Hebrew name.  Parents share with all gathered about a new baby’s name, and some rituals can include candles, spices and wine.  Poetry and readings fill out this meaningful ritual along with a joyous meal, as our children are formally brought into the brit/the covenant between the Jewish people and G-d.

A Parent’s Pledge – “We promise to:   Listen to our children. Communicate with our children. Teach our children right from wrong and be a good role model for them. Spend time with and pay attention to our children. Educate our children in mind, body and soul. Work to provide a stable family life for our children. Pray for and see G-d in our children and in all children. Vote for all children to ensure them fair opportunity. Speak out for our and other people’s children’s needs.” – Marian Wright Edelman (from Guide My Feet: Prayers and Meditation on Loving and Working for Children)

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

bar mitzvah: celebrate life cycle eventsThis is the rite of passage for Jewish children into adulthood.  Along with study and learning, each child is welcomed into this new stage of Jewish life by being called to the Torah and reading from it for the first time.  It’s a party and it’s much more than a party too.  Students are asked, “How can I relate to and practice Jewish life?  How can I make it my own?  In what ways can I influence and be a creative influence upon my heritage?”

Working together with a tutor and learning with our rabbi, we create a meaningful and personal process for this journey to the next stages of Jewish life.  For those families who are more independent, we have also created an innovative and individualized experience named OMG – On My Grid.


wedding: celebrate life cycle eventsLove and marriage are sacred connections which allow each couple access to the deepest knowledge of each other.  In this unified dimension we are at one and the same time made vulnerable and strengthened for life. And, there are no two relationships that are exactly alike.  Your wedding is the first day of the rest of your life, together, and it should authentically reflect each person in a couple, as well as be a couple’s true expression of who they are becoming.

A wise teacher once taught, “When you enter into marriage, yes, you do marry the person standing in front of you.  But, you also marry who that person will become.”  These sacred connections thrive best in openness, communication, and compromise, so that each person can become who he or she is meant to be. A Jewish wedding sanctifies a relationship with blessings and song under a huppa, and of course concludes with the breaking of a glass. Mazal tov!   See marriage checklist

Death & Mourning

graveWhen we first hear the news of a death, we recite the words, Baruch Da’yan Emet, Blessed is the True Judge.  It always feels too soon when we lose someone that we love and are close to.  Though we may not want to say goodbye, we are often called upon to accept truths that challenge us to our core. The ritual begins with the tearing of a kriyah ribbon (or shirt), representing the tear that loss has upon our hearts.

The process of saying goodbye and walking through the detailed ritual steps of death and mourning in Jewish life is sensitive and structured. From the funeral to burial to shiva, mourners are supported and comforted, all the while honoring the memory and blessing of their departed loved one – may their memory be for a blessing.

For more information e-mail office@bnaiemunahsf.org or call 415-664-7373.