- Brit Milah (circumcision)
- Pidyon Haben (redemption of the first born)
- Bat Mitzvah
- Bar Mitzvah
- Consecration of a tombstone
We encourage people to celebrate their happiness with our community. We look forward to celebrating semachot in our shule but, if it comes time for a bereavement, we work with you in dignity and it is our honour to help you in your time of need.
Births: In the case of a baby girl, you may wish to do a Hebrew baby naming in the Shule. The naming normally adds just a few minutes after the Torah reading for the day and is done as soon as possible after the birth.Baby namings occur only on days of Torah reading. Check out the page on our services discussing what honours are available.
Procedure: We ask that you consider a Hebrew name for the baby in advance (feel free to discuss it with our Senior Minister) and, for Jewish fathers, call up the father to the Torah (you do not need to be able to read Hebrew for this). In the case that the father is not Jewish, we would call up a Jewish grandparent, where possible. When you contact the office to organise the baby naming (for which there is no charge), we will invite you to suggest names of other family members/friends who you may also wish to honour on the day. On a Shabbat or Yom Tov, you may wish to sponsor the kiddush. On a weekday, you may wish to put on a lechayim.
Brit Milah (circumcision): The brit milah typically occurs at the conclusion of the morning (Shacharit) service and can take place on our premises or Rabbi can come to you. Unless there are medical reasons to delay, the brit milah will take place on the 8th day following the birth (ie the same day of the week as the birth, but a week later), so you will need to liaise with a mohel relatively early on. You can contact the Shule office on 9537 1433 for a list of mohelim. One should follow the brit milah ceremony with a light festive meal. As with all semachot, our Ministers will only attend if food is provided by a recognised Kosher caterer or Kosher food outlet. If the brit milah falls on days of Torah reading, check out the page on our services regarding what honours are available. On a Shabbat or Yom Tov, you may wish to sponsor the kiddush. On a weekday, you may wish to put on a lechayim.
Pidyon Haben (redemption of the first born): The pidyon haben (redemption of the first-born son) is a mitzvah whereby a Jewish firstborn son is “redeemed” by use of silver coins from his birth-state of sanctity. The redemption is attained by giving five silver coins to a Kohen. Although this seems like a quaint custom, it is in fact a Biblical commandment (Exodus 13:13): Every firstborn of man among your sons, you shall redeem. Numbers 3:47 – You shall take five shekels per head, according to the holy shekel, by which the shekel is twenty gerahs.
Never seen one before? You’d be in good company. The event is reasonably rare. The Shulkhan Arukh states that when a Jewish woman gives birth to a firstborn male by natural means, then the child must be “redeemed”. Therefore, it only occurs when the firstborn child (roughly 40% of births) is male (roughly 20% of births). Additionally, a first-born male does not require redemption if his birth was preceded by an earlier miscarriage by the mother that occurred after the third month of pregnancy – hence he is not considered “first of the womb”. And the ceremony does not occur when the first son was born by Caesarean section nor if the child is born to a father or mother who is from the tribe of Levi or Cohen. Hence, its relative rarity. The ceremony is done on the thirtieth day of the newborn son.
Procedure: In the traditional ceremony taking place before a minyan of 10 men, the father brings the child to the Kohen and recites a formula, or responds to ritual questions, indicating that this is the Israelite mother’s firstborn son and he has come to redeem him as commanded in the Torah. The Kohen asks the father which he would rather have, the child or the five silver shekels which he must pay. After the traditional jokes of the surrounding guests, the father states that he prefers the child to the money, then he recites a blessing and hands over five silver coins (or an equivalent amount of total silver). The Kohen holds the coins over the child and declares that the redemption price is received and accepted in place of the child. He then blesses the child. This ceremony is not done on a Shabbat or Yom Tov bu can occur on other days of Torah reading (check out the page on our services regarding what honours are available) or weekdays. You may wish to put on a lechayim.
Opsherin/Chalakah: This is the custom, by some, to cut the hair of their sons for the first time on their third birthdays, in a ceremony called an opsherin or upsherin (depending on Yiddish pronunciation) or chalakah. The custom (minhag) is has its sources from Rabbi Chaim Vital, the student of the great 16th century Kabbalist, the Arizal. The Arizal’s (Rabbi Isaac Luria, Zefat Israel) students reported that the Arizal would go to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron to cut the hair of his sons “in accordance with the well-known custom”. To this day, many have a custom to go to Meron for their son’s opsherin.
According to this custom, the child has his first haircut at the age of 3, reminiscent of the Biblical prohibition (Leviticus 19:23), known as orlah, against partaking of the fruit from a tree in its first 3 years. The third birthday is traditionally when the child has been weaned off its mother, is toilet trained and ready to socialise. As the child now moves into a new stage a maturity, many have a custom of giving the child a kippah and tzitzit to wear from the age of 3 when the child also commences learning his/her first words of Torah. Like all life cycle events, this is celebrated publicly and is often accompanied by the boy reading his first Hebrew letters and then eating sweets or licking honey so that the Torah should be “sweet on his tongue!”
Although, there is little or no formality to the opsherin, many have a custom to take the boy to their rabbi to have the first “snip” and to receive a blessing from their rabbi. As girls typically grow their hair, the concept of an opsherin is foreign to girls.
Bat Mitzvah (girl’s 12th Hebrew birthday): See our page on celebrating a Bat Mitzvah with us. If you are not currently a member, you will be offered free membership for the first year as our gift to you. Complete the form on our membership page.
Bar Mitzvah (boy’s 13th Hebrew birthday): See our page on celebrating a Bar Mitzvah with us. The calculation of the date is relatively straight forward. We identify the boy’s Hebrew birthdate and then add exactly 13 years to the same Hebrew birthdate. The boy can then be called up on the first Torah reading on, or following, that 13th Hebrew birth day. We encourage the boy and his family to come to morning service on the day of his 13th Hebrew birthday to put on tefillin. Typically, the boy will “celebrate” his Bar Mitzvah on the Shabbat either on the actual day of, or immediately following, his 13th Hebrew birthday. As each Shabbat has a specific Torah reading for that week, that is known as the boy’s “Bar Mitzvah parashah or sedra“. Check out the page on our services, which also discusses what honours are available. If you are not currently a member, you will be offered free membership for the first year as our gift to you. Complete the form on our membership page.
Aufruff: This is when the groom (chatan) is called up prior to the wedding and is most often either the Shabbat immediately prior to the wedding or on the Shabbat prior to that. While an Aufruff can take place on other days, it will only be on days of Torah reading. Check out the page on our services discussing what honours are available. You will need to download our call-up list here. It also includes an invitation to purchase lollies for a lolly throw through us.
Wedding: This is a lovely time of celebration and we’d be thrilled to be a part of your celebration. Our wedding team includes Rabbi Yaakov Glasman and Rabbi Hillel Nagel but you’re welcome to involve a rabbi of our choice, subject to discussion with Rabbi Glasman. Having your wedding in St Kilda Shule is the perfect setting for a wedding. We supply the ketubah, the chuppah (although you can hire another of your choice), the wine, a glass for breaking and an ambience without parallel. Typically, the wedding will commence with the groom and some friends waiting in our groom’s room in the Shule and the bride and her bridal party in the Shule boardroom. Rabbi will bring the groom from the groom’s room to the bride for the bedeken and then to the chuppah (typically in the Shule but can be on the grass area in front of the Shule) and then the bride follows to the chuppah. Check out our Wedding spiel that explains most of the process. Note that there are times of the year when, for halachic reasons, weddings do not take place.
The couple will need to complete and return to us all of the following:
- Notice of Intended Marriage
- Application to be married (based on the above document)
- If you are not currently a member, you will be offered free membership for the first year as our gift to you. Complete the form on our membership page.
- If you wish to book either our Danglow Centre or the Adele Southwick Centre for a kabbalat panim prior to the chuppah or for a reception following the chuppah, please complete the venue hire form.
- If you are also having an Aufruff call-up on the Shabbat prior the wedding or, for Sefardim, a Shabbat chatan on the Shabbat immediately following the wedding, see the section above on Aufruff. You will need to download our call-up list here. It also includes an invitation to purchase lollies for a lolly throw through us.
Burial: We help families through this sensitive time. Typically, we will receive the call from the Melbourne Chevra Kadisha (MCK) after a family has notified them of the passing of a loved one, but we can assist you in contacting them, if required. Financial arrangements made with MCK are for their services. Because our Rabbi can spend the better part of a day (including meeting with the family, liaising with MCK, preparing a eulogy, driving out to the cemetery, conducting the funeral service, driving back to work and conducting a night time minyan), the Shule charges a funeral fee of $750. Funerals of financial members are free of charge. Because of the sensitivity of this time, the Shule may delay in sending out invoices for these services, up to 2 months after the funeral, although families can request the invoice earlier. Our rabbi will attend a minyan in your home and, if requested, the Shule is available for minyanim.
Shule services: Ideally the mourner(s) should say Kaddish for 11 months following the passing of a loved one. Our Shule runs a friendly morning service each morning (see the calendar for times) at which one can say kaddish and other congregants are keen to assist you. The Shule also runs a Friday night service at which you can say kaddish. During the week of shivah, an immediate mourner (spouse, sibling, parent, child) may not be called to the Torah BUT it is customary for a mourner to be called to the Torah soon after the Shivah period is concluded. Rabbi may invite you to come to Shule on the Shabbat following the Shivah period to have a call-up.
Where a mourner cannot get to Shule or say kaddish for the full 11 months, consider making an arrangement for someone else to say kaddish on your behalf. A Melbourne-based website (kaddish.com.au) offers this service for a fee. Remember that between the morning, afternoon and night time services daily (plus musaf on Shabbat and festivals), there are some 1000 services over the 11 months and just $1 a service would cost $1000 over the 11 months.
Consecration of a tombstone: It is customary to organise a tombstone and have it consecrated during the first year (but after the Shivah period) following the passing of a loved one. Details can be obtained from the Melbourne Chevra Kadisha (MCK). Our rabbis are honoured to conduct the consecration service for you. Note that there are times of the year when, for halachic reasons, consecrations do not take place. To book a consecration of a tombstone, call Frances in our office on 9537 1433 (Ext 902) and she will check the Rabbi’s availability and that of the MCK and finalise details with you. There is a $500 fee payable to the Shule for the Rabbi to conduct a consecration. No fee is charged where a financial member is responsible for the accounts of the estate.
Yahrzeits: This is the Hebrew anniversary of the date of passing. Where there is a significant delay between the date of passing and the date of burial, discuss with the Rabbi about the commemoration date of the first yahrzeit. We can calculate the date of the yahrzeit for you and advise you, in advance, each year of the forthcoming yahrzeit. The annual emailed reminder is a free service run by the Shule. Contact Frances on 9537 1433 (ext 902) to set up a reminder. She will request the name of the deceased, the Hebrew name, the date of passing (and the rough time as this may affect the Hebrew date) and your relationship to the deceased. Frances also confirms details with the Melbourne Chevra Kadisha to avoid inadvertent errors. It is customary to honour the deceased on a yahrzeit by a) lighting a “yahrzeit” candle commencing the night before the scheduled date; b) saying kaddish in memory of the deceased commencing the night before the scheduled date (and you are welcome to join us at our daily morning service); c) do a good deed in memory of the deceased. All sorts of good deeds are acceptable. There is a longstanding tradition in St Kilda Shule that family (and sometimes friends) make a “memorial offering” to the Shule in memory of a loved one. The Shule publicly acknowledges such offerings on the Shabbat on the day of the yahrzeit or immediately preceding the day of the yahrzeit, at the conclusion of the Torah reading. Many people choose to set up a “permanent offering” through Frances (typically, a multiple of $18) and these offerings are noted in the reminder email prior to a yahrzeit.
Increasingly, people are choosing to dedicate a “yahrzeit plaque” in the vestibule of the Shule. Once this is done, the Shule arranges for the light on that plaque to be illuminated on the Shabbat coinciding with the yahrzeit or immediately preceding the yahrzeit each year as well as on days of Yizkor (see below). This is also acknowledged automatically each year when the memorial offerings are read out in Shule following the Torah reading. This forms a long-term dedication that can continue well after the person making the dedication may him/herself pass on. A yahrzeit plaque with a single name is just $495. Those with two names (such as both parents) is just $795.
Yizkor: Often confused with yahrzeits (see above), Yizkor is the memorial prayer said 4 times a year: on the last day of Pesach, on the second day of Shavuot, on Yom Kippur and on Shemini Atzeret. In St Kilda Shule, people make an offering in advance of these chagim to have the names of loved ones listed during the Yizkor prayer. On the three pilgrimage festivals (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot), the names are read out by the Rabbi during the Yizkor prayer. On Yom Kippur, given the size of the list, the names are not read out but are published in a booklet for that Yom Kippur (see sample from 2016). A form can be downloaded here to record your intention to be included in the forthcoming Yom Kippur yizkor booklet. Call Frances on 9537 1433 (Ext 902) or email her on firstname.lastname@example.org to request to be added to any of the yizkor lists.