Local congregations, individual rabbis, agencies and organizations provide support, advice, counseling and services to assist individuals and families during various lifecycle events. The organizations listed below provide comprehensive information and referrals. See also Chapter 4, Religious Life and Congregations. Some of the following listings have been provided as a courtesy to our advertisers.
Cantorial and Rabbinic Association of Greater San Jose (CRAGS)
Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley
14855 Oka Rd.
Los Gatos, CA 95032
(408) 358-3033/ Fax: (408) 356-0733
Chair: Rabbi Philip Ohriner
East Bay Council of Rabbis
President: Rabbi Debra Cohn
Orthodox Rabbinical Council of San Francisco
Mail to: P.O. Box 22491
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 564-6769/ Fax: (415) 665-0394
Chairman: Rabbi Jacob Traub
Jewish Milestones Ritual Resource Lending Library
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
3200 California St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 292-1299 x1119
Contact: Rachael DeWitt
Birth, Adoption & Circumcision
Adoption & Infertility
Brit Milah (Circumcision)
The ritual of brit milah is performed to symbolize the covenant between God and the people of Israel. The brit takes place on the eighth day of a male baby's life (provided there are no health problems). Traditionally, the brit is performed by a mohel, a ritual circumciser familiar with the relevant laws and customs. Some of the following listings are provided as a courtesy to our advertisers.
Stuart Avram Zangwill, M.D./Pediatrician/Certified Mohel
Stuart Avram Zangwill MD/Pediatrician/Certified Mohel
Mark M. Rubenstein, M.D./Pediatrician (retired)
Mark M Rubenstein MD/Pediatrician (retired)
147 Los Altos Ave.
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Home: (925) 932-6650/ Cell: (925) 212-9964/ Fax: (925) 937-6650
Contact: Mark M. Rubenstein, M.D., Yvonne L. LaLanne, D.C.
Alternative Bris Support Group
Mail to: P.O. Box 1305
Capitola, CA 95010
Brit Bat/ Simchat Bat (Rejoicing For Daughter)
The birth of a baby girl is traditionally marked in the synagogue when her father or parents are called to the Torah on the Sabbath to give the newborn her Hebrew name. The past decade has seen the development of various naming ceremonies for girls. In fact, there is a growing liturgy around the brit bat, and various alternative rituals have been proposed. This ritual is frequently performed on the eighth day of a baby girl's life.
Pidyon Haben (First-Born Redemption)
A pidyon haben, redemption of a son, takes place 30 days after the birth of a first-born baby boy. The tradition is based on the belief that first-born sons were to serve God in the Temple. To redeem them from that obligation, five shekels were given to the Temple priests, who then served in the Temple instead. The ceremony today usually involves a symbolic charitable donation.
Bar & Bat Mitzvah
Typically celebrated in the synagogue, the bar/bat mitzvah marks a young person becoming an adult member of the community. Traditionally, the 13-year-old is called upon to recite the Torah blessings and to read a Haftorah, a selection from the prophets. Variations on the ceremony exist. Study programs are also available throughout the community for adult men or women who missed the opportunity to celebrate a bar/bat mitzvah as a teenager. Synagogues provide bar and bat mitzvah training. See Chapter 4, Religious Life & Organizations. Some of the following listings are provided as a courtesy to our advertisers
For Reform and some Conservative Jews, the confirmation year (10th or 11th grade) represents a special time of celebration and commitment. It includes study and meetings with the rabbi, culminating in a special service, often held during the Shavuot holiday, which commemorates the receiving of the Torah by the Jewish people.
A ritual pool of fresh "living" water, the mikvah is used for both physical and spiritual purification. For some Jews, married life involves laws of taharat hamishpacha (family purity), which require a wife's monthly immersion in a mikvah after menstruation before she reunites with her husband. The mikvah is used today by some brides and grooms before their wedding. Jews-by-choice traditionally visit the mikvah as part of their conversion process.
Dryan Family Mikvah
3070 Louis Rd.
Palo Alto, CA 94303
(650) 493-5555/ (650) 494-2737/ Fax: (650) 493-3425
Contact: Dena Levin
Mikvah Chaya Mushka
Chabad of Marin
1150 Idylberry Rd.
San Rafael, CA 94903
Contact: Pesha Ross
Mikvah Society of San Jose
1670 Phantom Ave.
San Jose, CA 95125-5654
(408) 371-9548/ (408) 264-3138; call for fax number
Contact: Pat Bergman
Mikveh Israel B'nai David
3355 Sacramento St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
In the traditional ceremony of "dedicating the home," a mezuzah is put up within 30 days of moving into a new home. A mezuzah is a small container that holds a handwritten scroll of parchment with Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 on the front side and the word Shaddai (Almighty) on the back. The passages contain the Shema, considered the watchword of Jewish faith, proclaiming the oneness of God. The mezuzah is placed on the upper third of the doorpost, on the right side as one enters.
Marriage within the Jewish community is packed with familial, social and religious considerations. Jewish weddings are often a joining not only of two individuals and their families, but also of different parts of the community. Above all, a wedding is a simcha, a commandment in which the bride and groom rejoice. The main elements of a wedding are kiddushin and erusin--sanctification of betrothal; the betrothal blessing; presentation of the ring; reading of the ketubah (marriage contract) and its presentation to the bride; recitation of the seven marriage blessings; drinking of wine to sanctify the marriage; and breaking of the glass (to remember the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem even on joyous occasions). Additional traditions are the bedeken, in which the groom places the veil over his bride's face, and the encircling of the groom by the bride. Although a Jewish wedding need not take place in a synagogue, most Jews planning to marry turn to a rabbi or synagogue for some aspect of the wedding. For information about synagogues and rituals, see Chapter 4, Religious Life & Congregations. Marriage preparation classes are offered in many branches of Jewish Family & Children's Services, listed in Chapter 6, Social Services.
Also see Chapter 4, Religious Life & Congregations. The following listings are provided as a courtesy to our advertisers.
Couples contemplating divorce are urged to consult with a rabbi regarding the advisability of obtaining a religious divorce in addition to a civil divorce.
Rabbinical Court for Jewish Divorce
Congregation Emek Beracha (Palo Alto Orthodox Minyan)
(650) 857-1800/Fax: (650) 857-0601
Administrator: Rabbi Yitzchok Feldman
The Jewish traditions related to death and mourning are intended to recognize death as a part of life. Burial takes place as soon after death as possible.Traditional caskets are of plain wood; embalming and viewing of the body are shunned and flowers are discouraged. Rabbis should be consulted for specific questions about burial and mourning practices such as the observance of shiva, recitation of the Kaddish, yahrzeit observance and attending yizkor services. Funeral homes and chevra kadishas (burial societies) can also answer questions.
Bereavement and Healing Program
Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco
2150 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
Director of palliative and end-of-life care program: Redwing Keyssar,
Grief and Growing: A Healing Weekend for Bereaved Individuals and Families
Bay Area Jewish Healing Center (BAJHC)
3330 Geary Blvd., 3rd Floor West
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 750-4197/ Fax: (415) 750-4115
Contacts: Rabbi Eric Weiss, Rabbi Natan Fenner
Chevra Kadisha of the South Bay
c/o Congregation Am Echad
1504 Meridian Ave.
San Jose, CA 95125
(408) 264-3138/ (408) 425-6911/ Fax: (408) 268-6558
Contacts: Pat Bergman, Menashe David Taban
Sinai Memorial Chapel
Sinai Memorial Chapel
Tel Shalom Burial Association
Congregation Beth El
Rolling Hills Memorial Park, 4100 Hilltop Dr.
Richmond, CA 94803
Mail to: 2675 Tamalpais Dr., Pinole, CA 94564-1241
(510) 245-7401/ (510) 758-2873
Contacts: Sharon Mittleman, Fran Welstand
B'nai Israel Cemetery
430 Magnolia Ave., Petaluma, CA 94952
Mail to: 740 Western Ave., Petaluma, CA 94952
(707) 763-2769/ (707) 762-0340
Chair: Dave Weinstock
Gan Yarok at Fernwood Cemetery
Fernwood Cemetery - Funeral Home - Crematory
301 Tennessee Valley Rd.
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Contact: Kathy Curry
Ner Tamid Jewish Cemetery
St. Helena Cemetery
2461 Spring St.
St. Helena, CA 94574
Contact: Donna Mendelsohn
Gan Hazikaron/Garden of Remembrance Cemetery
Peninsula Temple Beth El
Highway 92 at Skyline Blvd.
San Mateo, CA 94403
Director: Blair Brown
Home of Peace Cemetery
Mail to: 1010 University Ave.
San Jose, CA 95126-1842
Cemetery: (408) 674-5867
Temple office: (408) 292-0939/ Fax: (408) 292-7625
Cemetery administrator: Wayne Rose
Santa Cruz & Monterey
Home of Peace/Home of Eternity
Temple Beth El/JCC
3055 Porter Gulch Rd.
Aptos, CA 95003
(831) 479-3444/ Fax: (831) 475-7246
Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel: (831) 423-5721
Contact: Wally Brondstatter