Life Cycle Ceremonies

We take pride in welcoming all who wish to grow, celebrate, and find comfort in Jewish lifecycle ceremonies. We'll work with you to identify and personalize Jewish texts and rituals. Together, we'll create an individualized ceremony that is a reflection of you and your family's values and traditions. 

We facilitate Baby Welcoming/Naming Ceremonies, Weddings/Commitment Ceremonies, Funerals and Memorial Services.

Our B'nai Mitzvah program is the only of its kind in the region. Teens select a topic related to Judaism and spend a year with a 1 on 1 mentor crafting a presentation for their friends, family, and community.

Baby Welcoming/Naming

Celebrating the birth or adoption of a child is an opportunity for
family, friends, and community to make commitments to the child and to celebrate their new life. It's also an opportunity for parents to share the values with which they intend to raise their child. 

 

Choosing English, Hebrew, and/or Yiddish names can link a child to the story of the Jewish people, creating an ongoing evolution of what it means to be Jewish.

A baby naming/welcoming ceremony could include the parents reading a letter to the child, guests writing down hopes for the child, wrapping the baby in cloth that is significant to your family, and more. Like any good celebration, food is always a good idea.

Email lifecycles@folkshul.org  and our Life Cycles Coordinator will be happy to answer any questions and help you start planning your ceremony. 

B’nai Mitzvah

Our bar/bat/breet mitzvah ceremonies are part of our Folkshul curriculum and open to all enrolled students. In addition to the regular class work, the b'nai mitzvah student chooses a topic of Jewish thought/history/culture that is important to them and spends about a year studying that topic with an adult mentor from the community. The student then presents the fruits of their study as the centerpiece of a customized ceremony that the family helps to create.

The process is designed to have the child integrate their personal interests with their Jewish values and knowledge. The hope is that this will encourage the student to explore and discover elements of the Jewish experience that are personally meaningful. The process is also designed to be relevant to modern Judaism and reflect ethical, intellectual, and Humanistic principles, as well as welcome the young adult into the worldwide, historical, and local Jewish community. 

Our program welcomes all children of all genders, learning styles and talents. We find our students walk away from their b'nai mitzvah work with a sense of pride and accomplishment, and then walk through their lives with confidence in themselves and their Jewish identities.

Topics of recent B’nai Mitzvah include: My Family's Journey to America, Klezmer Music, Jews in Comic Books, Anti-Jewish Propaganda in Nazi Germany, African American and Jewish Relations, History of the Bar Mitzvah and Rites of Passage in other Cultures, The Plight of Argentinean Jews, The Use of Wine in Jewish Tradition, and Women Who Heal The World. 

Weddings & Commitment Ceremonies

Secular Humanistic Judaism positions marriage as an equal partnership with characteristics of mutual support, intimacy, and growth. 

 

Secular Jewish wedding ceremonies reflect humanistic values  and celebrate Jewish culture. We can include a ketuba, a chuppah, ring exchange, and breaking of glass (by one or both partners), and other personalized interpretations of the Jewish wedding ceremony.

 

We're happy to comfortably co-officiate with leaders from other cultures and faiths. We support the union of any two adults regardless of their gender or sexuality. 

Email lifecycles@folkshul.org and our Life Cycles Coordinator will be happy to answer any questions and help you start planning your ceremony. 

Funerals & Memorials

Death is inevitable to everyone and hardest on those who are grieving. We can recognize the difficulty of loss, celebrate the life of our loved one, and find comfort in coming together.

 

Mourning within a community allows the family to share memories and allows the community to provide support for the grieving family. 

A Secular Humanistic funeral or memorial service can include secular versions of the mourner’s kaddish and other traditions. The family helps create the service that reflects their beliefs, and the wishes of their loved one, in a way that feels both comforting and authentic.

Having an officiant at a Shiva call can help the mourners to focus their thoughts and express their emotions. A short Shiva service can be arranged for family and guests.

Email lifecycles@folkshul.org  and our Life Cycles Coordinator will warmly answer any questions and help you start planning your ceremony. 

Our Ceremony Officiant

Kate Forest grew up as a Secular Jew and has raised her children in the Secular Humanistic Jewish community. As the Life Cycle Ceremonialist for Folkshul, she has ushered families through the b’nai mitzvah process, welcomed babies through naming ceremonies, and celebrated the lives of those who have died.

 

She is enrolled in the Officiant program of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, and is licensed to perform weddings in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 


When working with individuals and families to craft meaningful ceremonies, she draws on the participants’ personal diverse experiences. She believes that each individual’s unique qualities should be reflected in meaningful and relevant life events. 
Bringing her experience as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over twenty years’ experience, she is also a professional writer and enjoys eliciting the creative story within each person.

 

She is open to working with leaders from different faiths and looks forward to incorporating diverse elements in life cycle ceremonies.

In her capacity as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Kate provides chaplaincy services to any Folkshul member. Visiting a hospital or home during an illness, Kate can counsel the family through difficult times, providing practical advice as well comfort

 

You can contact Kate at lifecycles@folkshul.org 

Mailing Address: PO Box 17 Wyncote, PA 19095

Location: Folkshul is held at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy:

8000 Cherokee Street, Philadelphia, PA 19118

Email: Folkshul@folkshul.org

Phone: 215-248-1550 

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