Bar Mitzvah Program

Rabbi Daniel and Sarah Rabin have been involved in running programs for Bar Mitzvah aged children for many years.

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Bat Mitzvah Program

Rabbi Daniel and Sarah Rabin have been involved in running programs for Bat Mitzvah aged children for many years.

View Program

Childbirth is one of the most miraculous experiences in the Jewish lifecycle. A child is born into this world, G-d invests within it a Jewish soul and charges it with a mission in life: To make this world a better place.

On the first Shabbat after a Jewish child is born, the infants father is called up to the Torah at the synagogue for an aliyah (call up) and requests a blessings for the health of the mother and child. If the child is a girl, she is named at this time. Boys will be named on the eighth day after birth, as part of the rite of circumcision.

Jewish children are traditionally given two names: A Hebrew name for use in religious rituals, such as the calling up to the Torah and the ketubah (marriage contract), and a secular name for purposes of civil birth records and daily use. The Hebrew name takes the form of [child’s name] ben [father’s name] for boys, or [child’s name] bat [father’s name] for girls.

The name itself has much spiritual significance and is considered to contribute to the personality of the child. It is for this reason that Ashkenazi Jews traditionally name their children after a recently deceased relative, wishing for their children to emulate the positive characteristics of the person after whom they are named. In Sephardic communities children may also be named after living relatives.

Jewish boys and girls under the ages of 13 and 12 respectively are not required to observe the commandments other than for the purpose of education. However, upon turning 13, a boy is considered an adult according to Jewish law and is expected to obey all the commandments from then on. He has become a Bar Mitzvah, or son of the commandments. Similarly, a girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah, daughter of the commandment, upon turning 12.

A Jewish youth automatically becomes Bar or Bat Mitzvah upon reaching the appropriate age. The accompanying ceremonies are not necessary to attain this status, and they are not mentioned in the Torah or Talmud. Many parents choose to make a celebratory ceremony for a Bar and Bat Mitzvah in order to impress upon their children the importance of this milestone in their Jewish lives.

In its earliest observance, the rite of passage was marked by a boys first reciting of the aliyah (call up to the Torah reading) at the first Shabbat service after his 13th birthday, after which the father says a blessing, thanking God for removing from him the burden of responsibility for his childs sins. These duties have gradually increased over the years, and may now include reciting the haftarah (selection from the Prophets), reading the weekly Torah portion or leading part of the prayer service. It is also customary for the youth to make a short speech, which should contain a message from their Torah portion.

Spiritually, the ages of Bar and Bat Mitzvah are of much significance. According to the Kabbala (or Jewish mysticism) a Jewish person actually possesses two souls. The first is of an animalistic nature. The second is of a G-dly nature. Although the animalistic soul of a Jewish child is invested in their bodies at birth, their G-dly soul is only introduced to the body at this time but is not fully attached. There is a gradual process throughout their childhood during which the G-dly soul becomes more and more attached to their bodies. This process culminates at the age of Bat or Bar Mitzvah when this higher soul fully permeates the childs body and equips them with a stronger sense of purpose and spiritual identity. Hence, it is at this time when he or she becomes obligated in the commandments of the Torah.

Mazeltov! Mazeltov!

You are about to embark on an incredible life journey and the South Caulfield Hebrew Congregation would be honoured to assist you in your most memorable day!

Our Shule is a beautiful venue to host a Chupah and our Rabbi is also available to officiate at other venues. Bookings can be made via the Shule office or feel free to be in touch with the Rabbi for an initial discussion.

Our Rabbi is a certified marriage celebrant and will assist you with all your marriage requirements both for civil and Jewish law.

The Rabbi and Rebbetzin also teach marriage classes, which includes a short course covering the Jewish Family Purity Laws, understanding the wedding day as well other practical advice for the next big step in life. The Rabbi offers the Prepare Enrichment program which assists couples in thinking about married life and this is included in the wedding package.

If you are not yet a South Caulfield Shule member, the Shule will include one year complimentary membership for the couple.

To get the process started, give the office or Rabbi a call and they will advise you on the next steps. In the meantime, feel free to read some general information regarding a Jewish wedding.

SOME INFORMATION ABOUT A JEWISH WEDDING

A traditional Jewish wedding is full of meaningful rituals, symbolizing the beauty of the relationship of husband and wife, as well as their obligations to each other and to the Jewish people.

The following guide explains the beauty and joy of the Jewish wedding traditions.

THE WEDDING DAY

The dawning wedding day heralds the happiest and holiest day of ones life. This day is considered a personal Yom Kippur for the chatan (Hebrew for groom) and kallah (bride), for on this day all their past mistakes are forgiven as they merge together to become one soul.

As on Yom Kippur, both the chatan and kallah fast on their wedding day (in this case, from dawn until after the completion of the marriage ceremony). And at the ceremony, many have the custom that the chatan wears a kittel, the traditional white robe worn on Yom Kippur.

KABBALAT PANIM

It is customary for the chatan and kallah not to see each other for one week preceding the wedding. This increases the anticipation and excitement of the event. Therefore, prior to the wedding ceremony, the chatan and kallah greet guests separately. This is called Kabbalat Panim.

Jewish tradition likens the couple to a queen and king. The kallah will be seated on a throne to receive her guests, while the chatan is surrounded by guests who sing and toast him.

At this time there is a tradition for the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom to stand together and break a plate. The reason is to show the seriousness of the commitment just as the breaking of a plate can never be reversed, so too their new relationship should never be reversed.

BADEKEN

Next comes the badeken, the veiling of the kallah by the chatan. The veil symbolizes the idea of modesty and conveys the lesson that however attractive physical appearances may be, the inner soul and character are paramount.

The chatan, accompanied by family and friends, proceeds to where the kallah is seated and places the veil over her face. This is an ancient custom and signals the grooms commitment to clothe and protect his wife. It is reminiscent of Rebecca covering her face before marrying Isaac (Genesis ch. 29).

CHUPPAH

The wedding ceremony takes place under the chuppah (canopy), a symbol of the home to be built and shared by the couple. It is open on all sides, just as Abraham and Sarah had their tent open all sides to welcome friends and relatives through unconditional hospitality.

The chuppah is usually held outside, under the stars, as a sign of the blessing given by God to the patriarch Abraham, that his children shall be as the stars of the heavens (Genesis 15:5).

The chatan and kallah wear no jewelry under the chuppah. This symbolizes that their mutual commitment is based on who they are as people, not on any material possessions.

The chatan, followed by the kallah, are usually escorted to the chuppah by their respective sets of parents.

Under the chuppah, the kallah circles the chatan seven times. Just as the world was built in seven days, the kallah is figuratively building the walls of the couples new world together. The number seven also symbolizes the wholeness and completeness that they cannot attain separately.

The kallah then settles at the chatans right-hand side.

BLESSING OF THE BETROTHAL (Kiddushin)

Two cups of wine are used in the wedding ceremony. The first cup accompanies the betrothal blessing, and after these are recited, the couple drinks from the cup.
Wine, a symbol of joy in Jewish tradition, is associated with the Kiddush, the sanctification prayer recited on Shabbat and festivals. Marriage, which is called Kiddushin, is the sanctification of a man and woman to each other.

GIVING OF THE RING

In Jewish law, a marriage becomes official when the chatan gives an object of value to the kallah. This is traditionally done with a ring. The ring should be made of plain gold, without blemishes or ornamentation (e.g. stones).

The chatan now takes the wedding ring in his hand, and in clear view of two witnesses, he declares to his wife, Behold, you are betrothed unto me with this ring, according to the law of Moses and Israel. He then places the ring on the forefinger of his brides right hand. According to Jewish law, this is the central moment of the wedding ceremony, and the couple is now fully married at this point.

If the kallah also wants to give a ring to the chatan, this is only done afterwards, not under the chuppah. This is to prevent confusion as to what constitutes the actual marriage, as prescribed by the Torah.

KETUBAH (Marriage Contract)

Now comes the reading of the ketubah (marriage contract) in the original Aramaic text. In a Jewish marriage, the chatan accepts upon himself various responsibilities which are detailed in the ketubah. His principal obligations are to provide food, shelter and clothing for his wife, and to be attentive to her emotional needs. The protection of the rights of a Jewish wife is so important that the marriage may not be solemnized until the contract has been completed.

The document is signed by two witnesses, and has the standing of a legally binding agreement. The ketubah is the property of the kallah and she must have access to it throughout their marriage. It is often written amidst beautiful artwork, to be framed and displayed in the home.

THE SEVEN BLESSINGS

The Seven Blessings (Sheva Brachot) are now recited over the second cup of wine. The theme of these blessings links the chatan and kallah to our faith in G-d as Creator of the world, Bestower of joy and love, and the ultimate Redeemer of our people.

These blessings are recited by the rabbi or other people that the families wish to honor.

At the conclusion of the seven blessings, the chatan and kallah again drink some of the wine.

BREAKING THE GLASS

A glass is now placed on the floor, and the chatan shatters it with his foot. This serves as an expression of sadness at the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and identifies the couple with the spiritual and national destiny of the Jewish people. A Jew, even at the moment of greatest rejoicing, is always mindful of the Psalmists injunction to set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

In jest, some explain that this is the last time the groom gets to put his foot down.
This marks the conclusion of the ceremony. With shouts of Mazel Tov, the chatan and kallah are then given an enthusiastic reception from the guests as they leave the chuppah together and head toward the Yichud room, their temporary private chamber.

YICHUD

The couple are escorted to a private room and left alone for a few minutes. These moments of seclusion signify their new status of living together as husband and wife.
Since the couple has been fasting since the morning, at this point they break their fast.

THE FESTIVE MEAL (Seudah)

It is a mitzvah for guests to bring simchah (joy) to the chatan and the kallah on their wedding day. There is much music and dancing as the guests celebrate with the new couple. After the meal, Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals) is recited, and the Sheva Brachot (Seven Blessing) are repeated.

During the week following the wedding, it is customary for friends and relatives to host festive meals in honor of the chatan and kallah. This is called the week of Sheva Brachot, because of the blessings said at the conclusion of each of these festive meals.

(Reprinted with permission from aish.com, a leading Judaism website)

People may want to convert to Judaism for various reasons, but unlike other religions conversion to Judaism can be a long and complicated journey. Rabbi Rabin would be glad to consult with you initially as to how to go about starting the process and offer guidance throughout the process. He can serve as your mentor as per the requirements to have a mentor from the Melbourne Beth Din which oversees the conversion to Judaism. International standards are maintained for the purpose of ensuring halachic integrity and uniform standards in the performance of Jewish conversions.

While the preservation of life in Judaism is of paramount importance, taking precedence over nearly all other priorities and observances, death is not therefore abhorred or devalued. Instead, death is seen as a part of life and a part of Gods plan. The extensive mourning rituals in Judaism do not indicate a rejection or protest of death, but demonstrate the great value Judaism places on life in general and the life of each individual person.

Spiritually, the time of passing is when the soul of the deceased is returned to its Creator. This is a gradual process. The soul leaves the body in increments at the various stages of mourning (during the time of passing, shiva, shloshim and so on). The soul never completely departs the body. It is for this reason that its customary to visit the grave even after the passing.

TREATMENT OF THE BODY

Upon the death of a Jew, the eyes are closed, the body is covered and laid on the floor, and candles are lit next to it. The body is never left alone as a sign of respect. Those who stay with the body are called shomerim (guards). Eating, drinking, or performing mitzvot are prohibited near the body, as such actions would mock the person who is no longer able to do such things.

In Jewish law, being in the presence of a dead body causes ritual uncleanness. Thus a kohein (member of the priestly family) may not be in the presence of a corpse, and those who have been must wash their hands before entering a home, whether or not they actually touched the body.

Most Jewish communities have a special group of volunteers, the chevra kaddisha (holy society) whose job is to care for the dead. This work holds great merit since those they serve can never repay them. They are responsible for washing the body and preparing it for burial in accordance with Jewish custom.

Dead bodies may not be cremated, and burial takes place as soon after death as possible. Embalming and the removal of organs are strictly prohibited, although there are rare allowances for organ donation under extenuating circumstances a competent Orthodox rabbi should be consulted.

Open caskets are forbidden by Jewish law. Bodies are buried in a simple linen shroud, so that the poor will not receive less honour than the rich. The body is also wrapped in a tallit.

Coffins are not required, and are not used in Israel. If they are used, they are made of simple wood. A handful of earth from Israel is thrown in the casket with the body by the rabbi or a family member. These practices are intended to put the body in the closest contact with the earth as possible, and reflect the belief that the dead will rise in Israel in the messianic age.

MOURNING

The Jewish laws and customs of mourning for relatives who have passed away are specific and varied. A mourner should contact Rabbi Rabin (or the rabbi of the Orthodox Synagogue closest to them) as soon after the death occurs as possible, except if the death occurs on Shabbat or a Jewish festival, in which case the rabbi should be contacted at the conclusion of the Shabbat or festival.

CONSECRATION

Jewish law requires that tombstones be erected on all graves, so the dead will be remembered and the grave will not be desecrated. Jewish tombstones display the name of the deceased, date of death, and a short benediction. This information is normally written in Hebrew (and sometimes in Hebrew and English), and certain symbols indicating that the deceased is Jewish may also be present, such as a menorah, star of David, torah scroll, lion, or the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Some time after the passing of a relative, it is customary for the deceased family and friends to gather for the Hakamat Hamatzeva, or consecration.

YARZEIT

Each year on the Jewish anniversary of the death of ones loved one, a proper commemoration should take place. If you are not sure of the Hebrew date, please contact us for assistance.

Some customs that are appropriate for a Yartzeit memorial may include lighting a yartzeit candle at home in the evening prior to the day of the Yartzeit (according to Jewish law, the day begins with the preceding night), giving charity in memory of a loved one, studying Torah in their honour, arranging to recite Kaddish at the synagogue (if you are unable to recite the kaddish, it may be recited on your behalf please contact us for assistance) and sponsoring a kiddush in the synagogue on the Shabbat that falls at the end of that week of the Yartzeit. Some also have the custom to fast from sunrise to sunset on the day of the Yartzeit.