Life Cycle Events

Brit Milah

A brit milah, also known as a bris, is the Jewish ceremony in which a baby boy is circumcised. Circumcision dates back to the Book of Genesis, when God commands Abraham to circumcise himself and his offspring as a sign of the covenant between Jews and God. Throughout history, rabbis and thinkers have offered additional arguments in favor of circumcision, and many modern Jews see it as an important tradition that connects the generations.²

Bar & Bat Mitzvah

Coming of age for a Jew, which happens automatically at age 13 for a boy and 12 for a girl, is termed bar and bat mitzvah, that is obligated to perform the Jewish mitzvot (commandments). There is a ceremony marking the first performance of mitzvot such as being called up to the Torah to say the blessings.

Usually, the child will begin preparations for his or her bar/bat mitzvah about a year before the big day. At the bar/bat mitzvah, the child will generally get an aliyah (or blessing) and usually chant the haftarah (prophetic reading) as well. Many children also chant all or some of the weekly Torah portion and/or lead all or part of the prayer services.²


Jewish marriage is integral to God‘s plan of ongoing creation, which began with the creation of the first human couple, Adam and Eve. Marriage not only provides individual companionship, but it ensures the physical and spiritual survival of humanity by creating communities that reflect divine law.²


Judaism does not shy away from close encounters with death, but frames them ritually. Much attention is paid to treating the dead (and even a dead body) with respect (k’vod ha-met) and to comforting mourners (nichum aveilim).²

¹From Living Judaism by Rabbi Wayne Dosick