Stage 1: Preparatory Sessions
Context: Pastoral Counseling
Brit Milah/ Baby naming
- What is the name that you plan to give your child? Who are they named for? Is it important to you that they have a Hebrew name? Why?
- How will that Hebrew name be used in their lifetime?
- When do you imagine they will be called by their Hebrew name (in synagogue, by you, by their friends, by an Israeli on a summer trip they go on)?
- As you think about a Hebrew name consider modern Israeli names as well as biblical ones. Which has holds more resonance for you? Why? Do you know of any Israelis you want your child to be named for? Who possess qualities you wish they would possess?
Bar/ Bat Mitzvah
- Traditionally, Bnai Mitzvah is a time when the Jewish community can ‘count on’ the bar mitzvah to take responsibility for needs of the community. (For parents) what are the ways that your child will now exercise responsibility? (For the young adult) in what ways would you like to claim responsibility over your Jewish life? What Jewish decisions would you like to make? How does connecting to Israel factor into those decisions?
- When one becomes a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, one is not only responsible for the needs of the community where you live (e.g. your synagogue) but to Jews everywhere. What does it mean for you to see yourself as a part of the Jewish people? What kind of relationship would you want to develop with Jews living outside of your immediate community? In Israel? How might you develop those connections?
- The chuppah represents your Jewish home. When you think about building a Jewish home together, what are the ritual objects in that home? And what are the “Jewish values” that will animate your lives together, which ones?
- When a Jewish couple marries, it is said of them that they are creating a “bayit neeman b’yisrael” or “a faithful home among the people of Israel.” How do you relate to the concept of being a part of the “people of Israel”? Does that hold any resonance with you? Did it hold resonance for your parents? Is it important to you that it resonates with your children?
- When we get married we write a new chapter in a book and we get to choose everything about that chapter – the font, the size of the letters, the storyline. Before you get to write your own chapter, does your chapter follow the storyline of the chapter that came before (that your parents wrote?) or the one that came before that (that your grandparents wrote?) In what ways is your chapter going to be different? Similar? What is the connection with Israel in your chapter? What was the connection to Israel in chapters that preceded yours?
- One of the metaphors for married life is that of a journey. What are the Jewish journeys you would like to plan together? What about your first journey to Israel?
- Traditionally, when we bury our dead, we throw earth from land of Israel into the grave; some place a satchel of sand in the casket itself to link us to the land of Israel. Is there a special connection that your beloved had to Israel that you would like me to mention during the service?