Jewish ritual embraces us at key moments of transition, marking endings and beginnings. Membership at United Hebrew provides an extended family with whom to share these important occasions: a child’s birth, start of Torah study, a son or daughter’s bar or bat mitzvah, an adult bar or bat mitzvah, a marriage, illness, conversion to Judaism, or a member’s passing. Celebration and recognition of these events draw us closer together as a community and as a family.
We encourage our members to call on our clergy for all life cycle events. For information about life-cycle scheduling or scheduling a counseling session, please contact Esther Olson, Assistant to the Clergy, at 314-469-0700.
We celebrate the great blessing of a newborn with a ceremony welcoming the baby into the covenant of Judaism, and conferring upon the baby a unique Hebrew name.
- For boys, this is typically done along with the ritual circumcision called Brit Milah. If you are planning a Brit Milah or “Bris,” we are happy to recommend a number of local mohels (Jewish doctors or other individuals who are trained in the procedure of circumcision).
- For girls, or in cases where boys are circumcised without a religious ceremony, our clergy works with the family to design a naming ceremony, which can take place either at home or at the synagogue on a Friday night or Shabbat morning.
United Hebrew welcomes our new religious school students into the study of Torah with a ceremony of Consecration – the dedication of our students to a lifetime of learning – on the eve of the holiday of Simchat Torah. Our students ascend the bimah, recite the Shema, are blessed, and receive their very own miniature Torah scroll.
To receive information about enrolling your child in religious school, please contact Laura Wildman in the education office.
Bar or Bat Mitzvah
A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is actually the celebration of a beginning; a child taking responsibility for his or her own Jewish identity. A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a joyous event for the family as well as for our entire congregation. Our goal is to help our children grow into their awareness of the obligations and privileges of belonging to the adult Jewish community.
For detailed information on requirements, preparation, training, and event planning, contact Esther Olson.
Bar or Bat Mitzvah for Adults:
Deepen your Jewish practice and learning through this path of serious exploration and study. With mentorship and guidance from our clergy, you’ll participate in a process that’s structured to support your curiosity and growth in relationship to Torah, Jewish practice and God.
Learn more here.
During the tenth-grade year, students in our religious school program take part in special study with the clergy as preparation for Confirmation – a ceremony in which they celebrate the public affirmation of their Judaism. The ceremony is celebrated at United Hebrew on the Friday evening prior to Shavuot – the festival that marks the receiving of the Torah by Moses at Sinai.
A wedding symbolizes the greatest hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a couple. We at United Hebrew are always honored to be a part of such an important event. Whether the wedding is for two Jews, a Jew and a non-Jew, heterosexual or same-gendered couples, the clergy of United Hebrew looks forward to guiding you through the process from the moment of engagement through the breaking of the glass.
Seeking to form sacred relationships with those intending to marry, we can counsel you on every aspect of your preparations for the wedding and life beyond. We work with each couple to ensure that their marriage is as wonderful as the ceremony itself.
Please contact Esther Olson for information.
Aufruf/Blessing before Marriage
As part of the wedding celebration, the couple may be honored at a Shabbat service prior to the marriage ceremony with a special blessing. This can be done on a Friday evening with a blessing before the Ark or a Saturday morning, with an Aliyah to the Torah and a special blessing. Please contact Esther Olson for more information.
Anniversaries and Birthdays
Families wishing to celebrate significant wedding anniversaries should contact Rabbi Rosenberg. This celebration can take place in the synagogue or another appropriate location. The congregation also celebrates the anniversaries of all congregants married in a particular month and those who have birthdays at the Shabbat service on the third Friday of each month.
United Hebrew warmly welcomes individuals who are interested in converting to Judaism. We encourage you to contact one of our Rabbis.
Our clergy meet with congregants on occasion for short-term counseling. We are also available to direct congregants to appropriate long-term counseling settings.
Every Friday evening at services, we ask for names of those who are ill and offer a misheberach – prayer for healing. The clergy are available to call or visit the sick.
Please call the office at 314-469-0700 or e-mail Esther Olson whenever you know of someone’s illness or if you or a family member needs assistance.
Death, Burial, Mourning, and Unveiling
When death is imminent, families and friends need comfort, support, care, and guidance, which our congregational community can provide. With the passing of a loved one, many arrangements need to be made and our staff is here to assist you. Personal rabbinic guidance and written materials are available to help families organize their plans and prepare.
At the time of death please notify the congregation. Funeral services are scheduled directly with the funeral homes and rabbi.
For information about burial in our United Hebrew Cemetery, please call the Cemetery Director, Barry Needle, at 314-427-5900.
Shiva: Following interment, mourners may wish to observe the period of shiva (the seven days of mourning following burial) by holding a service in which one can say Kaddish and greet those who have come to comfort the mourners. Please speak with the clergy about arranging these services.
Kaddish: United Hebrew will read the name of your loved one during Shabbat services throughout the period of Shiva (the first seven days of mourning) and Sh’loshim (the first thirty days of mourning).
Stone Dedications: The placing of a marker on a grave is a way to honor and show care for someone we love. Jewish tradition emphasizes the importance of not visiting a gravesite for the first thirty days after burial because the pain of our loss is strongest at that time. Placing a marker may happen any time after the thirty days, but usually occurs between eleven months and one year following death.
However, one does need to contact the stone engraving company months before the dedication in order to allow adequate time for this part of the process. The clergy are available for consultation regarding what to inscribe on the stone. The date will also need to be reserved with the cemetery (so that they may prepare the site). While some families request the assistance of a member of the clergy for the service, the service does not require clergy officiation. We are happy to provide you with copies of an “Dedication Service” if you choose. Otherwise, please call Esther Olson to schedule a date for a Stone Dedication.
Yahrzeit: On the anniversary of death, your loved one’s name will be read at services that week, including Shabbat. You may also choose to light a Yahrzeit memorial candle in your home.
Yizkor: Four times a year, there is a special memorial service in remembrance of all our deceased loved ones. It takes place on Yom Kippur afternoon, on the mornings of the seventh day of the holidays of Sukkot and Pesach, and the morning of Shavuot.
Memorial Plaques: Memorial plaques may be dedicated to a loved one and displayed on the memorial wall in the Rabbi Samuel Thurman Memorial Hall. On the occasion of one’s yahrzeit, these plaques are placed on the memorial plaque in the Sanctuary. Please contact Elayne Grossberg for more information.
Read more about making arrangements for burial or purchasing a plot at United Hebrew’s Cemetery.