Jewish Life Events

In addition to the holidays and festivals and days of remembrance and mourning that Jews celebrate and commemorate every year, Jews also mark certain occasions in life – from  birth to death – by uniting ( in happiness or sadness) as a community.

These life-cycle events include the circumcision of Jewish boys after birth, the Pidyon Haben, or redemption of the firstborn son, and baby-naming ceremonies for Jewish girls – all joyous events that bring family and friends together and serve as the first link between these children and the Jewish people.

Once these children have matured to age 12 or 13, they become full-fledged adult members of the tribe, by becoming bar or bat mitzvah. This means that Jewish religious rights and privileges are extended to them and they can no longer rely on their parents to take responsibility for their Jewish observance.

The next great event in the Jewish life-cycle is marriage, or choosing to leave the parental home to begin a new life together as a couple. This is symbolized by the signing of the ketubah, or the Jewish wedding contract, and a ceremony under a chuppah, the wedding canopy.

Of course, no life cycle is complete without death. Just as cheerful events are celebrated in Judaism by coming together, so too loss provides an occasion to unite. Jewish law and practice both honor the deceased and show concern for the well-being of those in mourning.

All of these Jewish life-cycle events are discussed in greater depth in the articles below.  

Life events

Jewish religion and beliefs