Kerem Shalom is here to help our community celebrate the sweetness of life and to mourn the loss of loved ones. We welcome members to share intimate and meaningful lifecycle rituals—from the birth of a child, to the B’nai Mitzvah, to marriage.
Naming & Welcoming
We look forward to welcoming children into the Jewish community and giving them a Hebrew or Yiddish name. Often a Hebrew name carries the legacy and memory of a beloved relative, carried lovingly into a new generation. The Rabbi is happy to provide names of mohalim for b’rit milah, traditional circumcision of male babies on the eighth day following the birth.
First-grade families work with our Family Educator to create beautiful name plaques. The plaques are then presented to first graders who have not yet been formally named, at a Shabbat service. With the giving of Hebrew names, we joyfully proclaim and deepen our Jewish identity.
When a child reaches the age of 13, the B’nai Mitzvah are ready to proudly affirm their Jewishness in the presence of family, friends, and community by leading us in prayer and song, chanting from the Torah, and giving a D’var Torah in which they interpret the weekly Torah portion.
Beginning in sixth grade, Kerem Shalom offers workshops for families who are preparing for this rite of passage and celebration. Students work privately with a tutor to prepare for the Shabbat morning when they will be called to the Torah.
At the beginning of the sixth-grade year, every student receives a Guide to Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Kerem Shalom, which guides families through the process. Students are expected to create a tzedakah project as they enter this age of mitzvot, taking responsibility for Jewish life and for tikkun olam—improving our world.
For a list of tzedakah project ideas, click here.
All students are expected to complete seventh grade in Kerem Shalom’s Hebrew School, and we hope they will continue their Jewish studies learning in our dynamic, flexible High School program.
We recognize the sanctity of marriage, independent of sexual orientation, and we are thrilled to perform weddings for members of the community. The entire community rejoices both when we celebrate marriages with new members and with adults who grew up in the Kerem Shalom community.
Death & Mourning
As Kerem Shalom, we share in your joy during times of celebration, KS is also here to support you in times of sorrow. Rabbi Darby Leigh is available to help plan individualized funerals, appropriate for each family.
Funerals for members may take place in the synagogue, at the funeral home, or at the grave. Some prefer the traditional path including Tahara, ritual washing, and Shemira, staying with the body of the deceased until the funeral.
Kerem Shalom’s Chesed (Caring) Committee can help arrange for volunteers to assist and offer support at the shivah and during the mourning period. Our Kerem Shalom service booklet, Shir Ha-Lev Ba-Bayit/Song of the Heart at Home can be used for minyanim during shivah.
At the cemetery, it is customary to place a stone on the gravestone of a loved one. At Kerem Shalom, loved ones are remembered by placing a stone on the small shelf in front of their name on the Yahrzeit wall, an echo of this ancient tradition. Stones may be placed on the yahrzeit, the anniversary of the death, or whenever someone would like to remember their relative or friend. Twice a year, before Rosh Hashanah and before Pesach, all the stones are returned to a glass container.
Names are grouped in alphabetical order and spread throughout the two walls. Last names beginning with A through L are on the left side of the sanctuary as one enters. Last names beginning with M through Z are on the right side of the sanctuary.
Our yahrzeit wall was designed by Michael Rosenfeld, of The Office of Michael Rosenfeld, and built by Dale Walker of Walker Woodworks. The plaques were created by Bill Crosby of Crosby Design.