Celebrations & Lifecycle

At moments of transition, whether celebrating or when we are in need of support, the value of community cannot be overstated.

A congregational community accords the sacred privilege of participation in one another’s lives. At Bet David, we have understood this for more than 40 years. We welcome new lives through birth. We celebrate marriage. We confront illness and loss. We do these things together, and knowing that we are not alone imbues our experiences with meaning.

Adrian M SchellPlease contact 
Rabbi Adrian M Schell for assistance:
Glynnis Kanar, Assistant



Brit Milah/Brit Bat
You had a baby? Mazal Tov!

Miller Berman Naming picWelcoming a new member of the family is a profound experience. Bet David would be honoured to welcome our child into your family, the Congregation’s family, and the family that is the Jewish faith. Tradition calls for us to circumcise our sons on the eighth day of life in a ritual called brit milah, the covenant of circumcision. During this ceremony, boys also take on their Hebrew names. This ritual can take place either in the home, in the practise of the Mohel, or during one of Bet Davids’s Shabbat services. Girls are welcomed, and given their Hebrew names in a ceremony called brit bat, the covenant of the girl. This ritual can take place either in the home or during one of Bet Davids’s Shabbat services. Our Rabbi is readily available to meet with you before or after your child is born in order to discuss the details of the appropriate ritual, which will welcome your child, honour your family and link us all in the chain of Jewish tradition. He’d also be glad to help you to choose a Hebrew name!

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

At 13, Jewish children come of age as Jews and automatically become Bar Mitzvah (“son of the commandment”) or Bat Mitzvah (“daughter of the commandment”). Over the years, the service in which a child demonstrates his or her newly-acquired Hebrew skills has taken on the same name: Bar or Bat Mitzvah. At Bet David many families choose to celebrate their child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah with a service in which the child reads or chants part of the weekly Torah, reads the Haftarah portions and delivers a d’var Torah, the lesson derived from that Torah reading.

At Bet David’s Religion School, students are gently introduced to Hebrew and Progressive Judaism. Students meet with private tutors and work in concert with our Rabbi on their Torah readings and d’vrei Torah. We heartily encourage children to work to their full potential and to participate in the service in ways that suit their skills and interests.

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah program begins with a first meeting with Rabbi Schell and continues with the education programme. Not only are Bar or Bat Mitzvahs important milestones in Jewish education—as well as a family milestone; they are also a simcha for the entire Bet David Congregation!


Becoming a Jew involves becoming part of a people. Like all nations the Jewish People has its own culture and civilisation, comprising religion, language, cuisine, art forms and other facets of life. Completion of Bet David’s Jews-by-choice programme is the first step to becoming a Jew. We hope that you will come to share with us our enthusiasm for what choosing Judaism represents. Abraham and Sarah were not born as Jews — they were the first to “choose Judaism”. Ruth, a convert to Judaism, was the great grandmother of King David. We recognise the tremendous contributions converts have made to Judaism. We also recognise the difficulties in the choice: with personal feelings, families of origin and certain members of the Jewish community. … continue reading




Mazel Tov! Engaged? Thinking about it? Entering into marriage can be exciting, but it can also be fraught with questions. To ease the process, and provide some answers, Rabbi Schell would love to meet with you and talk about your future as a couple. Rabbi Schell is a registered marriage officer for South Africa and can solomnize marriages according to the Marriage Act and the Civil Union Act.

We look forward to celebrating with you and we welcome all couples who crave connection with the Jewish community. Same-sex couples can sanctify their partnership in the form of a chuppah and civil union at Bet David. Our Rabbi is happy to officiate for those couples, just as he does with any other couple.


Sadly, some marriages end. Jewish tradition has long recognised and accepted this reality. We are here to help you navigate this transition by lending a compassionate and non-judgmental ear. All communications are confidential. If you are interested in obtaining or giving a get, (the traditional Jewish divorce decree) we can direct you to the appropriate resources.

Illness & Hospitalisation

Bikur cholim, visiting the sick, is an important Jewish tradition and, as such, is taken very seriously at Bet David. While Rabbi Schell or members of our Care Committee would like to visit you or a loved one who is ill, we respect your right to privacy. Please contact the Shul’s office to report a hospitalisation or illness and direct us in the most appropriate way to respond.

Grief & Mourning

End-of-life issues can provide seemingly insurmountable challenges. When a loved one dies, the sense of loss can overwhelm. Bet David invites you to find strength and comfort in our Jewish traditions. In concert with Johannesburg’s Chevrah Kadisha, we can provide you the resources you need and Rabbi Schell would be honoured to officiate at the funeral or memorial services or arrange for a shiva. What to do when someone dies?

Planning an Event at Bet David

Whether you are looking for an intimate meeting space or a great banquet hall, the beautifully facilities at Bet David offer the perfect place for just about any event. Our facilities are available to members for life-cycle events such as weddings, bar/bat mitzvah parties, birthday celebrations, brit milahs, baby namings, anniversaries, and other meaningful events. Our staff can assist you in making your celebration exactly what you want it to be. To schedule a tour or find out more about holding an event at Bet David, please contact Glynnis.

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