Whether you are a long time member of Emanu El or have just recently joined, we hope these explanations will make you feel more at home as a part of our temple family.
Baby Naming/Brit Milah
We suggest that you contact one of our rabbis early during the pregnancy to discuss issues related to a baby naming or brit milah ceremony.
A brit milah (ritual circumcision) ceremony takes place on the 8th day after birth (count the day of birth as day one, unless the baby was born after sundown). It can be held at the hospital, at home, or at Emanu El. You can discuss with the rabbi whether to use a mohel (the person who performs the circumcision according to Jewish law), or your doctor. A baby naming can take place anytime, however many people do this on the eighth day also. It too can be held at home or at Emanu El as a private ceremony or during a worship service. If you wish to have a private ceremony at the temple, be sure you clear the date and time with both the rabbi and the program director who can assist you with arrangements. Several times during the year we offer a special program called So, You're Having a Jewish Baby, offering you the opportunity to meet with the Rabbi and a Mohel for an experience where you can share the joys and challenges of pending parenthood, learn about Jewish birth customs and ceremonies, and consider your future as a Jewish family.
In Reform Judaism we celebrate this rite of passage from childhood into adulthood at age 13 for both boys and girls. Youngsters conduct the Shabbat worship service, read from Torah, and deliver a speech at a Shabbat service. Preparation for this event, which is important in the life of both the child and the family, is done by our Religious School. To qualify, youngsters must be enrolled in our School.
Adult B'NEi Mitzvah
Some members who did not have the opportunity to celebrate their passage into Jewish adulthood at age 13 want to experience the joy of celebrating it later in life. Our Continuing Education Committee sponsors a special class for men and women wishing to have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony. Preparation time is about two years.
At the end of tenth grade in Religious School, youngsters celebrate a public affirmation of their commitment to live as Jews. This ceremony is celebrated at Emanu El on Shavuot, the festival that marks the receiving of the Torah by Moses at Sinai. This ceremony does not mark the end of religious school, but is a step along the way. Many go on to graduation at the end of the twelfth grade.
Conversion to Judaism is a significant act of personal religious commitment. As has always been true in Judaism, we welcome into our congregational family those who choose to make this life-changing, life-long decision. If you are interested in conversion, please meet with one of our rabbis. You will be given information on our introductory course in Basic Judaism, which is the starting point for exploring your interest.
When you or one of your children becomes engaged, one of your first steps should be to contact the rabbi you wish to have officiate at the wedding. And, if you want the wedding to take place at Emanu El, contact the program director to set the time and date. When choosing a date, remember that Jewish weddings are not performed on Shabbat or festivals (on Saturday evenings, they may be scheduled 45 minutes after sundown.)
Weddings & Receptions: Our facilities are available for a fee to our members and their children. Unaffiliated members of the Jewish community may use our facilities; however, costs differ and the needs of our members are a priority.
When death is imminent, families and friends need comfort, care, support, and guidance. Often times, difficult and complicated decisions need to be made and the emotional and spiritual needs are sometimes overwhelming.
Our rabbis are available for help during the difficult days and hours that precede death, whether your loved one is here in Houston or out of town. Please contact one of them if you want a rabbi to be with you. When death occurs, please notify the temple. If the office is closed and you need the help of a rabbi, you may contact one of them at home. The rabbi can help you with the arrangements for a funeral service and answer any other questions you might have.
There is no official Jewish funeral home in Houston, but our rabbis know which funeral directors are knowledgeable about Jewish customs.
Cemetery Space: Click here to visit the cemetery page.
Dedication of Tombstone
A stone may be dedicated within the first year (Jewish tradition suggests the eleventh month). Please set the date and time for this ceremony with the rabbi. You can make arrangements to purchase a stone from any monument company. Most of them are familiar with the requirements for stones at Emanu El Memorial Park. Please call the Temple Office for assistance. Memorial Tablets: On the walls in our Sanctuary are bronze tablets which have been purchased by family members in memory of loved ones. Lights are illuminated by each plaque on the Yahrzeit and at Yizkor time. Names on the memorial tablets are automatically included in our Book of Memory for Yom Kippur. The Temple Office will assist you in arranging for a plaque.