Jewish life cycle
The basic events in the Jewish life cycle are birth, circumcision/naming, coming-of-age, marriage, and death. Each of these events is commemorated in Jewish ritual. When a Jewish boy is born, he traditionally undergoes a ceremony known as a Brit Milah. This is a ritual circumcision performed by a mohel when the infant is eight days old. If he is a first-born son, an additional ceremony is performed when the boy is 31 days old, called pidyon ha-ben. Since all first things belong to God, the first-born son must be consecrated to God as well; he is ransomed back in the ceremony, usually for five silver shekels (or dollars). A boy is given his name at the brit, but a special naming ceremony for girls has become popular, usually occurring at a synagogue service, during the parents' aliyah. It is a custom, or minhag, among Ashkenazim to name a child after a deceased relative, but among Sephardim it is permitted to name the child after someone living. The coming-of-age ceremony is called a bar mitzvah for boys and a bat mitzvah for girls. At the age of 13 for boys, and 12 or 13 for girls, the child formally enters the community of adults, and is bound to uphold the commandments. The ceremony generally includes reading from the Torah and/or the haftarah during a Shabbat (Sabbath) synagogue service. In Orthodox Judaism, however, the bat mitzvah girl often delivers a dvar Torah at home or at synagogue on a Sunday. In Reform and Conservative Judaism, teenagers often observe a second coming-of-age ceremony known as confirmation, which was adopted from Christian culture. It marks the completion of a series of courses in Jewish studies, usually at age 16 or 18. The next event in the Jewish life cycle is marriage, commemorated with a Jewish wedding. A Jewish wedding has a number of requirements, such as a veil for the bride, a chuppah, or canopy, to stand under, the circling of the groom by the bride seven times, a blessing over wine drunk together, the...
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