Life Cycle

The Shaar Shalom Congregation takes great honour in being a place where our members can access life cycle assistance in times of joy and sorrow. Our members enjoy the services of spiritual leader who is available to officiate at life cycle events and offer rabbinical counselling within the framework of Conservative Jewish laws and customs.

B’rit Milah

The symbol of the covenant (partnership) with G-d is the B’rit Milah, or bris. Jewish tradition requires that a baby boy be circumcised on the eighth day of life, provided there are no health concerns. The commandment to circumcise is given at Gen. 17:10-14 and Lev. 12:3. The covenant was originally made with Abraham. It is the first commandment specific to the Jews. Circumcision is performed only on males.

The synagogue office can assist you in locating a mohel, who is specially trained to perform this mitzvah.

Baby Naming

A Jewish girl's name is officially given in synagogue when the father takes an aliyah after the birth. A boy's name is given during the B’rit Milah (ritual circumcision).

The formal Hebrew name is used in Jewish rituals, primarily in calling the person to the Torah for an aliyah, or in the ketubah (marriage contract).

B’nai Mitzvah

"Bar Mitzvah" means "son of the commandment”. "Bar" is "son" in Aramaic, which used to be the vernacular of the Jewish people. "Mitzvah" is "commandment" in both Hebrew and Aramaic.

"Bat Mitzvah" means "daughter of the commandment”. "Bat" is daughter and "mitzvah" is "commandment" in both Hebrew and Aramaic.

According to Jewish law, when Jewish children reach the age of maturity (generally twelve years for girls and thirteen for boys) they become responsible for their actions, and "become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah." Prior to this, the child's parents are responsible for the child's adherence to Jewish law and tradition, and after this age, children bear their own responsibility for Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics and are privileged to participate in all areas of Jewish community life.

The occasion of becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is marked with the young man or woman being called to the Torah for an aliyah for the first time and participating in leading the service, which may include reading the Torah and/or Haftorah portion at a Sabbath or other service, and giving a d'var Torah. Precisely what the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student does generally depends on his or her ability.

Preparation for a B’nai Mitzvah involves a course of study that begins in the early years of Hebrew School and culminates in the person being called to the Torah for the first time. The Shaar Shalom maintains a Bar Bat Mitzvah Planning Guideline.


The importance of marriage in the Jewish tradition is summed up in the Talmudic statement that when one marries, one becomes a complete person. Judaism has always viewed marriage as a sacred covenant.

Our spiritual leader will prepare couples for marriage and will officiate marriages eligible under Conservative Judaism.

Mezuzah Affixing by Rabbi

Traditionally, Jewish homes have a mezuzah affixed to the front door of their home. This comes from the commandment, which reads; “…inscribe them (the words of the Sh’ma) upon the doorposts of your homes and upon your gates” (Deuteronomy). Our spiritual leader is available to officiate at a Chanukat Ha Bayit, a dedication of the home where the mezuzah is affixed.

Funerals and Bereavement

The death of a loved one is a traumatic experience. Jewish law, custom and tradition provide the bereaved with guidance and support for coping with this difficult time. At the Shaar Shalom, we believe it is our sacred duty to ensure the final act of lovingkindness for our members is performed with respect, dignity, and adherence to Jewish tradition. The Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society) aids and assists members who have experienced a death in the family. The volunteers of the Chevra Kadisha prepare the body for burial, supervise funeral arrangements, provide the traditional meal for mourners following the funeral, and assist with a daily minyan for the shiva house. They assure a proper and respectful traditional Jewish burial for the deceased. Refer to the information prepared by the Chevra Kadisha on Jewish funeral and mourning customs on this website.

The Simon L. Gaum Bereavement Centre consists of a group of volunteers who will assist the Chevra Kadisha during the shiva period and will continue to support a grieving person/family during the difficult months that follow. All volunteers have participated in a grief workshop. The Bereavement Centre is administered under the direction of the Board of the Shaar Shalom Congregation and The Simon L. Gaum Bereavement Committee.

The Shaar Shalom Congregation maintains a cemetery on Connaught Avenue in Halifax, under the administration of the Cemetery Committee. All members of the congregation are entitled to be buried there. There is no charge to members for a burial plot.