Life Cycle | Reconstructing Judaism

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Life Cycle

Jewish rituals embody our ancestors’ understanding about God, the world, human relationships and the meaning of life, and they connect participants to the Jewish people and its story. These rituals exist because they were successful at helping our forebears to successfully navigate their liminal moments. In our time, people turn to Jewish ritual, in part, because they want to be connected to the Jewish people and to Jewish history. There is meaning for us in being part of that chain of tradition (shalshelet hakabala). Jewish rituals also provide an opportunity for us to express our hopes.

Some Jewish life cycle rituals are included on this page. Many more can be found at Ritualwell.org, the leading online resource to find Jewish rituals. Since 2001, Ritualwell has helped hundreds of thousands of users find, adapt, and create rituals expressing their Jewish lives and practices. Ritualwell offers resources for moments for which Jewish tradition has been silent—loss of a pregnancy, welcoming an adopted child into the family, recovery from a personal or humanitarian crisis. Our vast database includes content for weddingsbaby namingsfuneralshealingdaily prayer and mindfulness, and more. For today’s Jews and fellow travelers who seek contemporary, individualized, accessible Jewish expression, Ritualwell is a treasured guide.

More Life Cycle Resources

"Being Abba": A Civilization Text Study on Fatherhood

In this text study, Rabbi James Greene examines the evolution of Jewish ideas of fatherhood over time, with an eye toward contemporary responsibilities of Jewish fathering.

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Reclaiming Judaism After Centuries Underground

The small Italian village of Serrastretta has a hidden past: among its population are many families of anusim, hidden Jews whose ancestors were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Inquisition. Now, many locals are exploring their roots, thanks to new Reconstructionist affiliate Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud. While many are satisfied to understand the origins of mysterious family customs and learn about their ancestral heritage, some choose to fully embrace Judaism through conversion. Through a unique document of “Reclaiming Jewish Status”, this community has reconstructed standard conversion as a reclaiming of stolen Jewishness.

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When Family Are Strangers

A meditation on family members who are also strangers.

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News and Blogs

Embracing Our Sorrows

As the mournful day of Tisha B’Av arrives, Rabbi Jacob Staub reflects on the value of embracing our sorrows. 

News
News and Blogs

Embracing our Sorrows

As the fast day of Tisha B’Av approaches, Rabbi Jacob Staub asks: why do we harp on sorrowful events that occurred so many centuries ago? The answer lies in the nature of grief.

News

Pregnant in Israel

During her first pregnancy, Rabbi Amy Klein shared this reflection on the experience of pregnancy in Israel.

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Bar/Bat Mitzvah Family Education Series

This three-part family education series addresses issues related to bar/bat mitzvah. It is designed for a large group of parents and students and uses active learning exercises. It covers issues around Jewish identity, the meaning of bar/bat mitzvah, and common concerns that parents and students have about the process.

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A Yizkor Prayer for Righteous Gentiles

A child of Holocaust survivors, Rani Jaegar composed a yizkor prayer for Righteous Gentiles that is unique and breaks new ground. It tells the story of those who saw suffering and knew how to find their humanity. It remembers that “righteousness is an everlasting foundation” that breaks boundaries.

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News and Blogs

Finding Grace in Parenthood

Meditation on the spiritual lessons of parenthood.

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News and Blogs

Preparing for a Child

Reflections on the spirituality of impending parenthood.

News