Lifecycles

General Lifecycle Resources

Local congregations, individual rabbis, agencies and organizations provide support, advice, counseling and services to assist individuals and families during various lifecycle events. Congregations and additional religious organizations are listed in Chapter 4, Religious Life.
Bay Area
East Bay
North Bay

Rabbi Ira Book

Ordained-rabbi (1970) and Board-certified CA State Chaplain providing spiritual care / support for life-cycle needs for people of all faith backgrounds.
Veterans Home of California Yountville, CA
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San Francisco

Hebrew Free Loan

Provides interest-free loans, up to $6,000, to help Jewish residents of Northern California cover the costs of lifecycle ceremonies such as weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, and burial or funeral costs.
San Francisco, CA
http://www.hflasf.org
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Rabbi Camille Shira Angel

In all she does, the rabbi provides an openness to helping people discover their own connections, blended with Jewish tradition that is accessible and meaningful.
San Francisco, CA
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General Resources

Bay Area
East Bay
North Bay

Rabbi Ira Book

Ordained-rabbi (1970) and Board-certified CA State Chaplain providing spiritual care / support for life-cycle needs for people of all faith backgrounds.
Veterans Home of California Yountville, CA
Learn More
San Francisco

Rabbi Camille Shira Angel

In all she does, the rabbi provides an openness to helping people discover their own connections, blended with Jewish tradition that is accessible and meaningful.
San Francisco, CA
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Birth, Adoption & Circumcision

Bay Area

Adoption Connection

Provides support and services to adoptive parents as well as to birth mothers during and after pregnancy. Full-service, nonprofit, licensed adoption agency and open adoption leader has assisted with over 3,000 adoptions since 1985.
Adoption Connection San Francisco, CA
http://www.adoptionconnection.org
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Lisa Braver Moss

Bay Area author-activist working toward open inclusion of non-circumcising families in Jewish life. Website offers articles, videos and other resources for Jewish and interfaith families who choose not to circumcise or who are considering other options.
http://www.lisabravermoss.com
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Piser & Piser Mohelim

Practicing Bay Area urologist/hand surgeon; husband/wife mohelim team, trained and certified by Hebrew Union College; performing personalized, spiritually enlightening brit milah and hatafat dam brit (for previously circumcised converts) since 1991.
Piser & Piser Mohelim
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East Bay

Hasidah

A voice of hope and compassion that raises awareness of infertility, connects people to support and reduces financial barriers to treatment in the Jewish community.
Berkeley, CA
http://www.hasidah.org
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North Bay
Peninsula

Jewish Baby Network

Serving San Francisco and the Peninsula. Families with babies and toddlers from all kinds of backgrounds connect, share and celebrate together. Free events held at parks, JCCs and synagogues. No affiliation required.
Jewish Baby Network
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San Francisco
Santa Cruz

Alternative Bris Support Group

Provides support and information on alternative brit ceremonies and medical, religious and cultural information for parents considering covenant/naming ceremonies without circumcision.
Alternative Bris Support Group Capitola, CA
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South Bay
Northern California

Adoption & Infertility

Bay Area

Adoption Connection

Provides support and services to adoptive parents as well as to birth mothers during and after pregnancy. Full-service, nonprofit, licensed adoption agency and open adoption leader has assisted with over 3,000 adoptions since 1985.
Adoption Connection San Francisco, CA
http://www.adoptionconnection.org
Learn More
East Bay

Hasidah

A voice of hope and compassion that raises awareness of infertility, connects people to support and reduces financial barriers to treatment in the Jewish community.
Berkeley, CA
http://www.hasidah.org
Learn More
North Bay
San Francisco

Brit Milah (Circumcision)

The ritual of brit milah is performed to symbolize the covenant between God and the people of Israel. The brit (or bris) takes place on the eighth day of a male baby's life (provided there are no health problems). Traditionally, the brit is performed by a mohel, a ritual circumciser familiar with the relevant laws and customs.
Bay Area

Lisa Braver Moss

Bay Area author-activist working toward open inclusion of non-circumcising families in Jewish life. Website offers articles, videos and other resources for Jewish and interfaith families who choose not to circumcise or who are considering other options.
http://www.lisabravermoss.com
Learn More

Piser & Piser Mohelim

Practicing Bay Area urologist/hand surgeon; husband/wife mohelim team, trained and certified by Hebrew Union College; performing personalized, spiritually enlightening brit milah and hatafat dam brit (for previously circumcised converts) since 1991.
Piser & Piser Mohelim
Learn More
East Bay
Peninsula
San Francisco
Santa Cruz

Alternative Bris Support Group

Provides support and information on alternative brit ceremonies and medical, religious and cultural information for parents considering covenant/naming ceremonies without circumcision.
Alternative Bris Support Group Capitola, CA
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Northern California

Brit Bat/Simchat Bat (Rejoicing for Daughter

The birth of a baby girl is traditionally marked in the synagogue when her father or parents are called to the Torah on the Sabbath to give the newborn her Hebrew name. The past decade has seen the development of various naming ceremonies for girls. In fact, there is a growing liturgy around the brit bat, and various alternative rituals have been proposed. This ritual is frequently performed on the eighth day of a baby girl’s life.

Pidyon Haben (First-born Redemption)

A pidyon haben, redemption of a son, takes place 30 days after the birth of a first-born baby boy. The tradition is based on the belief that first-born sons were to serve God in the Temple. To redeem them from that obligation, five shekels were given to the Temple priests, who then served in the Temple instead. The ceremony today usually involves a symbolic charitable donation.

Circumcision Alternatives

Bar & Bat Mitzvah

Typically celebrated in the synagogue, the bar/bat mitzvah marks a young person becoming an adult member of the community. Traditionally, the 13-yearold is called upon to recite the Torah blessings and to read a Haftorah, a selection from the prophets. Variations on the ceremony exist. Study programs are also available throughout the community for adult men or women who missed the opportunity to celebrate a bar/bat mitzvah as a teenager. Synagogues provide bar and bat mitzvah training. See "Religious Life & Organizations."
Peninsula

George Rubin

Individualized instruction for all ages and learning styles, including special needs, in bar/bat mitzvah, Hebrew and Jewish studies; for the affiliated and unaffiliated; in person or online.
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Confirmation

For Reform and some Conservative Jews, the confirmation year (10th or 11th grade) represents a special time of celebration and commitment. It includes study and meetings with the rabbi, culminating in a special service, often held during the Shavuot holiday, which commemorates the receiving of the Torah by the Jewish people.

Chanukat Habayit

In the traditional ceremony of “dedicating the home,” a mezuzah is put up within 30 days of moving into a new home. A mezuzah is a small container that holds a handwritten scroll of parchment with Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 on the front side and the word Shaddai (Almighty) on the back. The passages contain the Shema, considered the watchword of Jewish faith, proclaiming the oneness of God. The mezuzah is placed on the upper third of the doorpost, on the right side as one enters.

Mikvah

A ritual pool of fresh "living" water, the mikvah is used for both physical and spiritual purification. For some Jews, married life involves laws of taharat hamishpacha (family purity), which require a wife's monthly immersion in a mikvah after menstruation before she reunites with her husband. The mikvah is used today by some brides and grooms before their wedding. Jews-by-choice traditionally visit the mikvah as part of their conversion process.
East Bay
North Bay
Peninsula

Dryan Family Mikvah

Nightly mikvah appointments for women from all Jewish backgrounds. Mornings and Friday afternoon for men. Tours available by appointment. Groups welcome. Classes for brides and beginners.
Dryan Family Mikvah Palo Alto, CA
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San Francisco
South Bay

Mikvah Society of San Jose

By appointment only. Women, please call three days in advance. $20 donation requested. Extra charge for same-day appointments. Men's hours: Friday and/or Erev Yom Tov mornings only; $5 donation requested.
San Jose, CA
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Marriage

Marriage within the Jewish community is packed with familial, social and religious considerations. Jewish weddings are often a joining not only of two individuals and their families, but also of different parts of the community. Above all, a wedding is a simcha, a commandment in which the bride and groom rejoice. The main elements of a wedding are kiddushin and erusin (sanctification of betrothal), the betrothal blessing, presentation of the ring, reading of the ketubah (marriage contract) and its presentation to the bride, recitation of the seven marriage blessings, drinking of wine to sanctify the marriage, and breaking of the glass (to remember the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem even on joyous occasions). Additional traditions are the bedeken, in which the groom places the veil over his bride’s face, and the encircling of the groom by the bride. Although a Jewish wedding need not take place in a synagogue, most Jews planning to marry turn to a rabbi or synagogue for some aspect of the wedding. For information about synagogues and rituals, see Chapter 4, Religious Life & Congregations. Marriage preparation classes are offered in many branches of Jewish Family & Children’s Services, listed in Chapter 6, Social Services.
East Bay
San Francisco

Marriage Officiating

Also see Chapter 4, Religious Life & Congregations.
East Bay
San Francisco

Divorce

Couples contemplating divorce are urged to consult with a rabbi regarding the advisability of obtaining a religious divorce in addition to a civil divorce.
Peninsula

Rabbinical Court for Jewish Divorce

The Rabbinical Court arranges for the get, the halachic divorce document, to be executed in a way that is recognized as legitimate throughout the world, including by the Rabbanut in Israel.
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Death

The Jewish traditions related to death and mourning are intended to recognize death as a part of life. Burial takes place as soon after death as possible. Traditional caskets are of plain wood, embalming and viewing of the body are shunned, and flowers are discouraged. Rabbis should be consulted for specific questions about burial and mourning practices such as the observance of shiva, recitation of the Kaddish, yahrzeit observance and attending yizkor services. Funeral homes and chevra kadishas (burial societies) can also answer questions.
Bay Area

Grief and Bereavement Services – JFCS

Comprehensive grief and bereavement services for those coping with loss, including individual counseling, grief support groups, and information and referrals.
Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties San Francisco, CA
http://www.jfcs.org
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East Bay
Monterey
North Bay

B’nai Israel Cemetery

Oldest Jewish cemetery in Sonoma County dating back to 1868. Includes an interfaith section; call for details.
B'nai Israel Cemetery Petaluma, CA
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Peninsula
San Francisco
Santa Cruz
South Bay

Chevra Kadisha of the South Bay

Volunteers prepare any Jewish deceased in the South Bay for burial at request of family. Tax-deductible donations help cover expenses and funerals for indigent Jews.
c/o Congregation Am Echad San Jose, CA
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Gan Emet Cemetery

Newly expanded and landscaped cemetery serving the needs of the South Bay Jewish community. Unaffiliated welcome. Single/double-depth burials, cremation options. Natural setting.
Congregation Emeth/Emeth Gardens Gilroy, CA
http://www.emeth.net/ganemet
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Northern California

Cemeteries

East Bay
Monterey
North Bay

B’nai Israel Cemetery

Oldest Jewish cemetery in Sonoma County dating back to 1868. Includes an interfaith section; call for details.
B'nai Israel Cemetery Petaluma, CA
Learn More
Peninsula
San Francisco
Santa Cruz
South Bay

Gan Emet Cemetery

Newly expanded and landscaped cemetery serving the needs of the South Bay Jewish community. Unaffiliated welcome. Single/double-depth burials, cremation options. Natural setting.
Congregation Emeth/Emeth Gardens Gilroy, CA
http://www.emeth.net/ganemet
Learn More
Northern California

Bereavement

Bay Area

Grief and Bereavement Services – JFCS

Comprehensive grief and bereavement services for those coping with loss, including individual counseling, grief support groups, and information and referrals.
Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties San Francisco, CA
http://www.jfcs.org
Learn More
East Bay

Funerals

East Bay
North Bay
Peninsula
San Francisco
Santa Cruz
South Bay

Chevra Kadisha of the South Bay

Volunteers prepare any Jewish deceased in the South Bay for burial at request of family. Tax-deductible donations help cover expenses and funerals for indigent Jews.
c/o Congregation Am Echad San Jose, CA
Learn More

Monuments

San Francisco
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