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Sample Readings for Ceremonies for Boys and Girls

Return to the Guide to Birth Ceremonies for Interfaith Families.

 

Mother's Blessing

MOTHER: We thank God for blessing us with a healthy, sweet and beautiful child. We pray that your life is filled with continued health and joyfulness. May you find strength in knowing how much you are loved, and by so many people.        , we wish for you a life of family, community, education and mitzvot. And we promise, as you make your way in the world, we will always be there for you. We love and respect you, now and forever.

OFFICIANTS: We ask you their family and friends to give your support in thought, word and deed. You can be examples of lives well lived and commit to supporting         and         in their journey of parenthood. It takes a village to raise a child--and they want you to be part of        's life, offering him love and guidance throughout his life. Now we can all join hands as         and         offer final blessings to        . After each please join us saying Amen.

PARENTS: May you have kindness and respect for both friends and strangers, for those that are similar to you and those that are different. Amen.

May you be generous--able to give and receive. Amen.

May you understand that the journey of life is as important as each step along the way. Amen.

Submitted by Julia Slotnick Sturm

Poem of Thanksgiving

FATHER: With all my heart, with all my soul, with all my might

I thank you, God, for the gift of this wonderful child.

MOTHER: I thank you for a healthy pregnancy, a safe delivery and a speedy recovery.

FATHER: With all my heart, with all my soul, with all my might

I pray for the continued health of        .

MOTHER: I pray for her to be strong in mind and body,

To grow steadily and sturdily in a home filled with joy and love.

FATHER: I pray for her to become a person who greets the world

With passion

Courage

Humility

Wisdom

And Humor

MOTHER: With all my heart, with all my soul, with all my might

I pray for God to watch over us, our family, and our community.

FATHER: I pray for the ability to love and nurture        ,

To provide for her and to educate her.

MOTHER: I pray for the ability to understand        ,

To allow her the freedom to grow.

TOGETHER: Dear God, help us to be good parents and to teach our daughter the values of Judaism, so that she may improve the world through her thoughts and deeds.

Amen.

-Adapted from Diamant, Anita. The New Jewish Baby Book. (277 pages, Jewish Lights Publishing, 2005)

Submitted by Keren McGinity

L'chi Lach

L'chi lach to a land that I will show you

L'ch l'cha to a place you do not know

L'chi lach on your journey I will bless you

And you shall be a blessing, you shall be a blessing

You shall be a blessing lechi lach

L'chi lach and I shall make your name great

L'ch l'cha and all shall praise your name

L'chi lach to the place that I will show you

And you shall be a blessing, you shall be a blessing

You shall be a blessing l'chi lach.

-by Debbie Friedman

Submitted by Lesley Williams

God's Love and Trust of Children/Bring Me Good Guarantors

RABBI: When Israel stood to receive the Torah, the Holy One said to them: "I am prepared to give you My Torah. Present to Me good guarantors that you will observe and study the Torah and I shall give it to you."

GUESTS: They said: "Our ancestors are our guarantors."

RABBI: The Holy One said: "Your ancestors are not sufficient guarantors. Bring Me good guarantors, and I shall give you the Torah."

GUESTS: They said: "Our prophets are our guarantors."

RABBI: The Holy One said: "The prophets are not sufficient guarantors. Bring Me Good guarantors and I shall give you the Torah."

GUESTS: They said: "Indeed, our children will be our guarantors."

RABBI: The Holy One said: "Your children are good guarantors. For their sake I give the Torah to you." (Shir HaShirim Rabba 1:24)

Submitted by Lesley Williams and Kathy Lowy

When God Wants An Important Thing Done

When God wants an important thing done in this world or a wrong righted, he goes about it in a very singular way. He doesn't release thunderbolts or stir up earthquakes. God simply has a tiny baby born, perhaps of a very humble home, perhaps of a very humble mother. And God puts the idea or purpose into the mother's heart. And she puts it in the baby's mind, and then--God waits. The great events of this world are not battles and elections and earthquakes and thunderbolts. The great events are babies, for each child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged with humanity, but is still expecting goodwill to become incarnate in each human life.

-Edmond McDonald, Presbyterian Outlook

(from Edelman, Marian Wright. Guide My Feet: Prayers and Meditation on Loving and Working for Children. (240 pages, Beacon Press, 1995))

Submitted by Rev. J. Richard Fowler

A Parent's Pledge

I promise to…

Listen to my children

Communicate with my children

Teach my children right from wrong and be a good

Role model for them

Spend time with and pay attention to my children

Educate my children in mind, body and soul

Work to provide a stable family life for my children

Pray for and see God in my children and in all children

Vote for my children to ensure them fair opportunity

Speak out for my and other people's children's needs.

-Marian Wright Edelman (from Guide My Feet: Prayers and Meditation on Loving and Working for Children)

Submitted by Rev. J. Richard Fowler

Final Statement to be Read by Parents Together

How are we to perform the countless acts of love that are involved in raising        ? It is not such a mystery, really. Every lullaby, every diaper change, every smile, every sleepless night, every wordless prayer of thanks for this wonderful baby--in these and the unending ways we care for and teach and protect our children, we perform countless acts of love. And the world is made holier. And so are we.

Submitted by Michelle Missner

Children Learn what is lived.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith.

If children live with acceptance and friendship,

They learn to find love in the world.

-from the Christian traditions

Submitted by Cantor Ronald Broden

Community Support and Responsibility

This ceremony brings together those who are part of        's ancestry and identity--the parents (name those relatives who are here) and friends. This is the extended family of human beings who will be the answer to        's need for identity. You will be the stable, continuous members of the human community who will care about him/her and will be his/her support when s/he has need.

Each of us, parents, friends and family, have our particular responsibilities for this child. We hope for the wisdom to help guide him/her to reach his/her own fullest potential, to develop his/her own talents and to come to an understanding of his/her own place in the world and in the Jewish community (while honoring the heritages of both her/his parents).

We ask you, our friends and family, to help and support us in our great work of guiding the growth of our new baby as a responsible member and citizen of our community/of the House of Israel/of our shared world/our Earth. We recognize that each child belongs not only to his own family, but to all of us, and all of us are responsible to protect him/her and to nourish his/her growth.

ALL: We share in the joy of this ceremony and honor the power and tradition of this moment. We pledge ourselves to the care and well-being of this newborn child, (name), and welcome and accept her into our community (family).

-by Miriam Jerris

Submitted by Judith Seid

We wish you…

       , we wish for you a life full of learning. May you learn from books, from the people around you and from the wonders of nature. We wish for you a life full of love and we wish for you the capacity both to give and receive love fully and wholeheartedly. We wish for you a life full of striving for justice, a life full of deeds of kindness, a life of concern for your community and for your fellow human beings.

       , may you always stand firm and walk secure with the warmth of the earth in your body and fire of the sun in your spirit. We wish you the strength of the rock and mountains, the gentleness of grass and flowers with all their colors and fragrance. May you feel the joy of the wind as it moves through the fields of grain and tosses the branches of the trees in the forest.

-by Algernon Black

Submitted by Judith Seid

May you grow…

       , may you grow in a happy family, a supportive community, and a safe world. May you go forth into a life of learning, love and good deeds.

(This last sentence is the traditional Hebrew blessing. See Dedication to the Covenant.)

       , may your name endure with honor as long as the rivers run to the sea, as long as the sun casts the shadow of the mountains over the slopes, and heaven shows the fire of the stars.

-by Len Cherlin

Submitted by Judith Seid

May your child…

May your child, (parents' names), learn from you what it means to be a loving human being. May the warmth and generosity of your own personalities touch his potential and enrich it by the force of your example. You have the power to share yourselves with your child. You have the power to give him the greatest and most intimate of all gifts--the gift of your loving behavior.

-by Len Cherlin

Submitted by Judith Seid

May you be fearless and tender

May you be fearless and tender. May you enjoy the warm sun on your face and the flow of wind and water on your body. May you love the beauty of the world, its flowers and trees, the mountains and flowing streams, the movement of all living things. And may you know the music and the rhythm of nature and the drama and poetry of human creation. Above all, may you know the comradeship of good friends and the meaning of generosity and compassion, the love of many and the love of one above all others.

-by Algernon Black

Submitted by Judith Seid

An ancient Irish pagan blessing

May the blessing of light be with you always,

Light without and light within.

May the sun shine upon you and warm your heart

Until it glows like a great fire

So that others may feel the warmth of it.

 

And may the light of your eyes

Shine like two candle lights

In a window at night bidding the wanderer

To come in out of the dark and the cold.

 

And may the blessings of the rain be upon you,

The sweet and tender rain,

May it fall upon your spirit

As when flowers spring up and fragrance fills the air.

 

And may the blessings of the great rain

Wash you clean and fair,

And may the storms always leave you stronger

And more beautiful.

 

And when the rains are over

may there be clear pools of water.

Submitted by Judith Seid

May your life be one of security and trust

May your life be one of security and trust. May your life shine with dignity and freedom. May your life know the creative harmony of peace.

-by Len Cherlin

Submitted by Judith Seid

Your life is a seed

Your life is a seed for the growths of tomorrow

This is the winter, the season for resting, that in the springtime

The earth may green with growing for a rich harvest.

May the good earth nourish you,

May you never lose touch with the living powers of the earth

Or the warm companionship of others.

May the arts nourish your spirit

And the challenges of life sharpen your powers of mind and heart.

May you never lose the sense of your own worth.

May you always have faith in your creativity

And may you grow in the power to love and be loved

And may the cup of your life be filled to overflowing.

Submitted by Judith Seid

May you live each day…

May you live each day with fullness of mind, generously and without hesitation. May you rise up in anticipation of each new day and lie down satisfied at night. May your life bring justice and peace and comfort to those who need it.

Submitted by Judith Seid

We are humbled

We are humbled by the awesome power of this moment.

From our lives, we have brought forth life.

Through our love, we have fashioned a child of love.

The mystery of beginnings is with us we acknowledge its presence.

May the life we have birthed be a blessing to all s/he meets.

And may s/he count us among her/his blessings as well.

-Adapted from Rami Shapiro

Submitted by Judith Seid

Sample Songs

This Little Light of Mine

Heveynu Shalom Aleikhem

Submitted by Judith Seid

Sample Poems

The Pasture by Robert Frost

Putting in the Seed by Robert Frost

Pippa's Song by Robert Browning

Woman of Valor (excerpts)

Submitted by Judith Seid

The Crowning

in sleep you are a small queen

swaddled in the lace of shadows

 

a smile drifts on your lips

your palms upturned

in fearlessness

 

what have I come in here

to cover

to uncover

 

what do I know

of majesty

born as your head crowned

in me

 

so now it is my turn

to be amazed and small

 

for in sleep you are a small queen

swathed in the lace of shadows

-by Rachel Loden

Submitted by Judith Seid

Children of Happiness

Children of Happiness are not like ordinary children. You can tell one of the Children of Happiness by the way it is different. A Child of Happiness always seems like an old soul living in a new body, and her face is very serious until she smiles, and then the sun lights up the world. You look at the eyes of a Child of Happiness and you know the child knows everything that is truly important. Children of Happiness always look not quite the same as other children. They have strong, straight legs and walk with purpose. They laugh as do all children, and they play as do all children, they talk child talk as do all children, but they are different, they are blessed, they are special, they are sacred.

They are to be cherished and protected, even at the risk of your life. They will know sadness, but will overcome it. They will know alienation for they see past and through this reality. They will endure where others cannot. They will survive where others cannot. They know love even when it is not shown to them.

They spend their lives trying to communicate the love they know.

-by Anne Cameron

Submitted by Kathy Lowy

Grandparents' Blessing

We have been taught each child carries its own blessing into the world.

Grandchildren are the crown of their elders and the glory of their parents.

        comes from a wonderfully rich heritage of strong loving women who come from many different countries and many different faiths. Each of these women who will pass her through their chain of love, posses qualities we hope         will acquire. Clarity of purpose, wisdom, grace, confidence, generosity, strength, knowledge, a sense of humor, passion and a reverence for all manifestations of life.

Submitted by Kathy Lowy

Mi Shebairach

The one who blessed our mothers, Sarah and Rikvah, Rachel and Leah and the prophet Miriam and Abigayil and Queen Esther daughter of Abichayil. May he bless this beloved girl and let her name be         with Good Luck and a blessed hour; and may she grow up in good health, peace and tranquility. And may her Father and Mother see her joy and her wedding and sons, riches and honor and may they be healthy into old age; And may this be divine will. Amen.

Immersion Prayer

HONORED RELATIVE (Perhaps Aunt): Tradition is that Abraham entered into the covenant with God through the ritual of circumcision, Sarah his wife entered the covenant through ritual immersion in a mikveh, a ritual bath.

Our Mothers, Rebekkah and Rachel were betrothed and began new lives at the gentle flowing waters of the well.

HONORED RELATIVE (Perhaps uncle): Our Mother Tzipporah gave life to her child Moses in the ever-flowing waters of the Nile.

Our Sister Miriam danced for the saving of lives beside the overflowing waters of the Sea of Reeds.

HONORED RELATIVE: Water is God's gift to the living souls, to cleanse us to purify us to sustain us and renew us.

Moses and Aaron and the priests of Israel washed with cleansing waters before attending to God's Service at the Altar.

HONORED RELATIVE: As God separated the waters in the first creation, so do we ask that protecting waters surround this child.

And it is written: "I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean." (Ezekiel 36)

(The honored relative symbolically cleanses child's feet as she enters into God's Covenant. Grandparent wraps         in tallis.)

GRANDPARENT: And it is written, "I am a well of living waters, a garden spring, A stream flowing from the heights of Lebanon." (Song of Songs 4:15)

You are blessed, O God Spirit of the world who has sanctified us with our commandments and commanded us concerning ritual immersion.

Submitted by Kathy Lowy

Lighting the Candle

There is a new light in our hearts and in our home.

As         has been brought into the covenant of the Jewish people, we would like to take this moment to dedicate her life to ma'asim tovim or good deeds of family and community.

Submitted by Kathy Lowy

Parental Blessing

Our God and the God of our Mothers and Fathers bring this Baby girl into a life of joy, a life of goodness, a life of wisdom. May it be your will that our daughter be a maker of peace and a pursuer of peace between one person and another, and let her light shine round her to illumine her companions. Strengthen our will and our strength to guide her in the ways of Torah and faithful devotion to you. Give us the ability to lead her in the path of the valiant women and men of Israel whose actions have shown brightly in all generations of our people's history.

Submitted by Kathy Lowy

Reading for Brit Milah

I present to you my son, intact in body and spirit to meet the world. You, his family and friends, are circled 'round today. (Godmother/sandeket brings child into circle and prayer continues.)

All the basic elements greet his spirit today: the greening earth, the gentle spring air, the single steady flame of your havdalah candle, and the water of (body of water).

With these basic elements, we bless all the parts that embody your spirit:

Your mind, may it be quick and clear;

your eyes and your ears, may they see and hear the soft spoken truth;

your mouth, may it speak with courage and timely gentleness;

your hands, may they shape your world with strength and care;

and finally, your heart, may it be full of the passion that is the best of humanity.

Tonight we pledge ourselves to your protection, your care, and your guidance.

Let the earth ground and strengthen you;

let the winds inspire you;

let the fire light your true path;

and let the water wash and refresh you.

May you always be guided by the love that surrounds you here and now and always.

Submitted by Morissa Fregeau

The Guide to Birth Ceremonies for Interfaith Families is also available in PDF or Word formats.

Hebrew for "covenant of circumcision," a ritual for Jewish boys when they are 8 days old. It is commonly known as "bris," which is the Ashkenazi or Yiddish pronunciation of "brit." Hebrew for "separation" or "distinction," the ceremony marking the end of the Sabbath on Saturday evenings. Female version of the Hebrew word "sandek," which means ?godfather,? the word is specific to the role of holding the baby during a brit milah ceremony. Plural form of the Hebrew word "mitzvah" which means "commandment," it has two meanings. The first are the commandments given in the Torah. ("You should obey the mitzvah of honoring your parents!") The second is a good deed. ("Helping her carry her groceries home was such a mitzvah!") A member of the Jewish clergy who leads a congregation in songful prayer. ("Hazzan" in Hebrew.) A language of West Semitic origins, culturally considered to be the language of the Jewish people. Ancient or Classical Hebrew is the language of Jewish prayer or study. Modern Hebrew was developed in the late-19th and early 20th centuries as a revival language; today it is spoken by most Israelis.
Hebrew for "collection," referring to the "collection of water," is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism. Today it is used as part of the traditional procedure for converting to Judaism, by Jews who follow the laws of ritual (body) purity, and sometimes for making kitchen utensils kosher. Yiddish for "prayer shawl," a ritual item that is worn and has knotted fringes (tzitzit) attached to the four corners. Hebrew for "my master," the term refers to a spiritual leader and teacher of Torah. Often, but not always, a rabbi is the leader of a synagogue congregation. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), or the scroll that contains them.
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