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Life Cycles

Welcome to our Life Cycle Services section. We hope we can inform and be of service to you whether you are an Oraynu member or not. See the special benefits you get when using Oraynu’s life cycle services by clicking here.

Since time immemorial, throughout the world, and across all cultures and faiths, we have marked the cycles of nature by celebrating seasonal festivals. We have also marked the passages of human life, from birth to death, by celebrating life cycle events. The rituals, symbols and ceremonies of life cycle events have evolved with our changing ideas, beliefs and needs.

Humanistic Jewish Life Cycle Ceremonies

In Humanistic Jewish ceremonies we incorporate meaningful traditions and values from our rich Jewish heritage, and from other cultures. In creating our custom ceremonies we adopt or adapt existing rituals so they are consistent with our secular humanistic philosophy—that we have the power and responsibility to make our lives and the world a better place, without supernatural intervention. We also innovate and create new and meaningful humanistic rituals. All ceremonies are egalitarian and do not include theistic language or worship. They are respectful and inclusive and serve the needs of Jewish and intercultural/interfaith couples and families, as well as the LGBTQ communities.

In addition to the more common life cycle events like baby namings, bar/bat mitzvot, conversions, funerals and weddings, our rabbis can create and officiate at events that mark transitions such as special birthdays, moving into a new home, graduating from an educational program, attaining professional status in one’s field of study, or retiring. They can also assist in celebrating important firsts and special achievements in your life. Our rabbis also provide guidance and counselling for your Jewish and spiritual needs.  As a full service congregation we also offer burial and cremation plots at our cemetery.

The purpose of Humanistic Jewish life cycle ceremonies is to:

  • enable individuals to feel important and valued
  • help individuals find a sense of belonging
  • validate the individual’s increasing knowledge, wisdom and competence
  • mark the meeting of life goals
  • support individuals or families in times of need, sorrow or joy
  • reinforce Jewish identity
  • reinforce Jewish values
  • recognize the importance of family, friends and community at times of transition
  • teach and spread the philosophy and values of the community
  • help communities to share in the life of individuals and
  • help to perpetuate communities and reinforce community bonds

Our Rabbis/Officiants

Personal, poetic and meaningful ceremonies are created and officiated or co-officiated by our ordained rabbis, Rabbi Eva Goldfinger and Rabbi Denise Handlarski, who are also licensed to officiate marriages/weddings in Ontario. Our rabbis will perform ceremonies in the Greater Toronto Area or travel to the destination of your choice—national or international.