Life Celebrations

Throughout our lives, we have occasions that are marked by special joy and sorrow. In those times, we turn to our community to celebrate with us, or to support us when we need them. At Temple Beth Shalom, we desire to draw near to one another during special life events—to magnify each other’s joys and make sorrows easier to bear. The celebrations below are some of the ways we as a community embody the rituals of a Jewish life.

For questions about any life events in the Temple Beth Shalom Community, begin by contacting Rabbi Tamar Malino.

Births

Proud parents stand holding their new baby at a birth celebration at Temple Beth Shalom.

Reaching out for Jewish community because of a baby in your future? When a baby is born, we use ritual to officially welcome that child into the covenant of the Jewish people. For a boy, that ritual is a Brit Milah, a circumcision ceremony on the eighth day of life, accompanied by a celebratory meal. The circumcision itself is performed by a mohel, an individual specially trained for this job who is often also a medical doctor. For a girl, there are various versions of this ritual, often called a Brit Bat, which use similar prayers but do not include a physical component. A Brit Bat ceremony can take place on the eighth day of life, or within the first month. Ceremonies for both boys and girls can be done either in the family’s home or in the synagogue. Another exciting part of this time in life is choosing a Hebrew name for your child.

 

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

A young man and young woman speak to the congregation during their bar and bat mitzvah services.

Celebrating bar/bat mitzvah—the moment when your son or daughter is first called to the Torah—is not an end. It is a milestone along a path towards Jewish adulthood. It is a triumph of learning and accomplishment, and it signifies acceptance into a new status in our community: being considered a ritually knowledgeable Jewish adult among the Jewish people. This includes being counted in a minyan. At Temple Beth Shalom, we make this significant event in your family ‘s life both a meaningful journey and a joyous ceremony.

The Temple Beth Shalom family is here to assist you in preparing for, planning, and enjoying this milestone. Learn more about our educational programs, including the process of becoming a bar/bat mitzvah.

 

 

Weddings

Rabbi Tamar stands with a couple under the chuppah during a wedding at Temple Beth Shalom.

Weddings are a great simcha (joyous occasion)! A Jewish wedding can be held almost anywhere, inside or outdoors. Oftentimes, the ceremony takes place in the synagogue, but there is no requirement to do so. It involves a brief liturgy, a wedding contract called a Ketubah, and two Jewish witnesses who are not related to one another. Our Rabbi is available for consultation and discussion regarding both opposite sex and same-sex marriages, whether you are a member of Temple Beth Shalom or not. If you are interested in being married by Rabbi Tamar, or using our beautiful Temple Beth Shalom sanctuary, please contact our Temple office.

 

Death & Remembrance

If there has been a death in your family, please contact the Temple office immediately by calling 509-747-3304. If it is after hours, call the emergency contact number that is given in the Temple office message.

Respect for the dead and comfort for the bereaved are the two principles that govern the Jewish customs surrounding death. If you have a death in your family, please contact Rabbi Tamar through our Temple office immediately. She will guide you and your family through the traditional funeral and mourning practices.

Below is a brief summary of these rituals.

Preparing for Burial

The dead are buried within 24 hours, if possible, with no embalming or viewing of the body. Before burial, the body is washed and dressed in a simple ritual garment. The deceased is placed in a plain, all-wood coffin, and it is traditional that a Jew remains with the deceased until the funeral. The funeral may take place in a chapel or at the gravesite. Eulogies may be given by anyone, including someone who is not Jewish. Burial takes place immediately following the funeral.

At a burial in the cemetery, earth is shoveled onto the casket by friends and family who wish to participate in this final act. This ritual of lovingly placing earth on the casket of the beloved departed is called a hesed shel emet, a true act of loving kindness. It is a demonstration of love and respect, with no expectation of reward. One need not be Jewish to participate in this ritual.

Sitting Shiva

When the burial is over, attention turns to the bereaved. All who wish to comfort the bereaved visit at the home where family members “sit shiva” during a period of seven days of mourning following the burial. No flowers are given to the grieving family, but gifts of food are welcome. Contributions to a favorite charity given in memory of the deceased are also welcome.

At any time after the one-month anniversary of burial, a formal unveiling of the permanent grave marker may be held. This is done in a gathering at the grave to formally inaugurate the permanent monument.

Reciting Kaddish

During shiva, sheloshim (the thirty days following the burial), and for a period of eleven months following the death of a loved one, reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish plays an important role in remembering someone who is deceased and expresses a deep and abiding faith in God, despite loss.

Following a loved one’s death, the Jewish tradition is to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish on the yahrzeit (anniversary) of a loved one’s death. At Temple Beth Shalom, it is common to attend Shabbat services and recite Kaddish in the week prior to the yahrzeit, since we do not hold daily services.

Mount Nebo Cemetery

Gravestones, grass, and trees at Mount Nebo, Spokane’s Jewish cemetery.

Mount Nebo, located near the Spokane River on the western side of town, is Spokane’s Jewish cemetery. It commemorates the vital importance in the Conservative tradition of having Jewish community members buried in a Jewish cemetery. Mount Nebo is the second Jewish cemetery to be established in Spokane. (The first belonged to the Keneseth Israel Congregation—learn more in Our History.)

To learn more about Mount Nebo and its special place in the Spokane community, read this 2009 Spokesman Review article by Stephanie Petit: Cemetery holds a history of Spokane area’s Jewish residents.

Are you seeking the location of a particular gravesite? Download an alphabetical plot map of Mount Nebo Cemetery.

Do you plan to visit? Please remember that, to show respect for the dead, one does not perform any act in the cemetery that the dead can no longer do. For example, do not eat or drink in the cemetery.