Music by Deanna Neil
I will send peace flowing over her like a river (x3). Amen (x3)
I will comfort you as a mother comforts her child (x3). Amen (x3)
I will send peace flowing over her like a river (x3). Amen (x3)
Source: Isaiah 66:12-13
How to Bless the New Moon
By Rachel Kann
Back before the journey began,
the massive desert expanse,
before the sea had even split,
way way back in Egypt,
the first collective gift-transmission was given:
With transcendental gentleness, the
lifted your chin;
directed your attention
toward the heavens,
Let the moon’s cyclic and fluid beauty
hew you to the rhythm
of time’s unending spiral,
use this precise present
as your very beginning.
Sanctify every recursive moment of holiness
Follow the mystery hidden in shadow.
Seek beneath the surface.
Let others bask in the surety of sunlight.
You were born of the moonlight tribe.
Let others be about answers.
You be about questions.
Live in the liminal.
Listen for the subtle metal-scrape:
these are keys unlocking each restraint.
Listen for the whisper:
this is the giving over
of the calling forth
of the new moon
this is your liberation.
Light two candles (or one for each member of your family). Pause for a moment to look into the flames. Circle the flames with your hands three times and then cover your eyes as you recite the blessing. Peeking is OK!
בָּרוּך אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם אַשֶׁר קִדְשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶל שַבָּת
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, whose mitzvot add holiness to our lives and who has given us the mitzvah to kindle the lights of Shabbat
Fill a glass with wine or grape juice. The word kiddush, means holy. This moment, just before we take a sip, will only happen once. Savor it as you say this blessing, then drink.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ri hagafen.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
Before we eat, we wash our hands. You can use soap and water (for at least 20 seconds). Or you can use a cup to pour water over your hands. Feel the water splash on your hands and notice the temperature. As you dry your hands, say the blessing.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, whose mitzvot add holiness to our lives and who has given us the mitzvah of washing hands.
Take the cover off your challah (or any kind of bread) and hold it up, like Simba over Pride Rock as you say the blessing together.
בָּרוּך אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם הָמוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן הַאָרֶץ
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.
Take a deep breath. Think about where you were last Friday night. Where were you? How did you spend the evening?
Now, follow the thread from Friday into Saturday, Sunday and through each day of the week. What was something that made you smile? What challenged you? Did you eat something delicious? Did you quarrel with someone? Whatever happened, seal the week with another deep breath and get ready to sink into the comfort of Shabbat.
Here is a brief blessing, in Aramaic, to give thanks after your meal
בריך רחמנא מלכא דעלמא מריה דהאי פיתא
Brich rachamana malka d’alma marei d’hai pita.
We are blessed with compassion by you, Infinite One, who sustains us with bread.
Adapted from the Babylonian Talmud (Brachot 40b) by OneTable: https://issuu.com/onetableshabbat/docs/ultimate_shabbat_guide?e=33133766/60166643
May it be Your will, at this season of our election, to guide us towards peace.
By voting, we commit to being full members of society, to accepting our individual responsibility for the good of the whole. May we place over ourselves officials in all our gates…who will judge the people with righteousness (Deut 16:18), and may we all merit to be counted among those who work faithfully for the public good.
Open our eyes to see the image of God in all candidates and elected officials, and may they see the image of God in all citizens of the earth.
Grant us the courage to fulfill the mitzvah of loving our neighbors as ourselves, and place in our hearts the wisdom to understand those who do not share our views.
As we pray on the High Holidays, “May we become a united society, fulfilling the divine purpose with a whole heart.”
And as the Psalmist sang, “May there be shalom within your walls, peace in your strongholds. For the sake of my brothers and sisters and friends, I will speak peace to you.” (Ps. 122:7-8)
May you contribute all that you can contribute and not punish yourself for what you couldn’t do.
May the good people win and the bad people lose.
May you not eat or drink too much crap while you wait for results.
If the good people lose and the bad people win, may you survive to fight another day.
May you have a good wifi connection so that you may be able to watch as many kitten and puppy videos as you need to so that you can stay calm.
May you have friends to celebrate and commiserate with.
May you get a good night’s sleep.
May the line to vote on Tuesday be long and filled with first time voters.
And may we emerge from it all with hope.
And let us say, Amen
A Prayer for Voting
By David Seidenberg
With my vote today I am prepared and intending to seek peace for this country, as it is written:
“Seek out the peace of the city where I cause you to roam and pray for her sake to God, for in her peace you all will have peace.”
May it be Your will that votes will be counted faithfully and may You account my vote as if I had fulfilled this verse with all my power.
May it be good in Your eyes to give a wise heart to whomever we elect today and may You raise for us a government whose rule is for good and blessing to bring justice and peace to all the inhabitants of the world and to Jerusalem, for rulership is Yours!
Just as I participated in elections today so may I merit to do good deeds and repair the world with all my actions, and with the act of [fill in your pledge] which I pledge to do today on behalf of all living creatures and in remembrance of the covenant of Noah’s waters to protect and to not destroy the earth and her plenitude.
May You give to all the peoples of this country, the strength and will to pursue righteousness and to seek peace as unified force in order to cause to flourish, throughout the world, good life and peace and may You fulfill for us the verse:
“May the pleasure of Adonai our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us, may the work of our hands endure.”
The Beta Israel, as the Ethiopian Jews are known, hold that they are descendants of the tribe of Dan. The traditions telling of their arrival to Ethiopia range from the times of Moses to King Solomon & the Queen of Sheba to the splitting of the Kingdom in ancient Israel. Although they were mentioned by travelers at various points, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that more had become known about Ethiopian Jews after they had arrived in Israel.
Ethiopian Jews had a form of Judaism that showed traces of halakhic Judaism yet was very different from most Jewish Rabbinic communities today. They had lost Hebrew, and have a language known only by the priests, in which they would learn and spread Jewish knowledge. They had a form of Shabbat and many of the holidays, but no festivals established after the first Temple period – in other words, no mention of Purim or Chanukah.
One of the most notable aspects of the Ethiopian Jewish experience is the Sigd festival celebrated 50 days after Yom Kippur. The holiday is unique to the Beta Israel. Following the traditions of Yom Kippur, the festival is meant as a day of fasting, purity and renewal. However, it is not meant to mimic Yom Kippur, but rather enhance upon that experience. If Yom Kippur is a day of personal introspection, Sigd is meant as a time for communal reflection.
With preparations being done the week before and celebrations often being carried out for a couple of days after, the main event is on the 29th of Heshvan. Those who lived in smaller villages would stay by family members in the larger villages so that during Sigd they could all be together. The qessotch would choose a high point upon which the community would ascend and prepare by placing stones in a circle with a special table to hold the holy books in the center, at the top of the chosen mountain.
On the 29th of Heshvan (a month that in most of the Jewish world is known as mar Heshvan, or bitter Heshvan, as it is a month without holidays) the Beta Israel would wake up early, dip in the river and dress in holiday clothes. The qessotch would take the Orit (Torah) from the ark and carry it to the mountain. (Qessotch were not necessarily kohanim; rather they can be thought of as the equivalent to rabbis as they were the most learned in their communities.) The rest of the community would likewise ascend the mountain, carrying holy books or stones on their heads. According to some the stones represent the tablets given at Mt. Sinai.
At the top of the mountain, the qessotch would unravel the Orit and the high priest would enter the circle of stones. As with the fasting, this is reminiscent of the traditions of Yom Kippur as during the times of the Temple, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies. He would then read texts that included Exodus 19-20 (ceremony Mount Sinai) and Nehemia 8 (Covenant Ceremony). The holy texts are called “Mashafa Kadus” by the Beta Israel.
Both texts remind that the traditions of the Sigd have Biblical references. Where Moses went to the top of the mountain, Mt. Sinai, from which the community heard holy texts, the Beta Israel perform a similar ritual during this holiday. Similarly, the community would atone for their sins after the texts were read, and bow before God, just as the Jewish people did in the times of Ezra and Nehemia. Sigd revolves around the renewal of the covenant, just as the covenant was renewed in Nehemia 8.
"וַיְבָרֶךְ עֶזְרָא אֶת יְהוָה הָאֱלֹהִים הַגָּדוֹל וַיַּעֲנוּ כָל הָעָם אָמֵן אָמֵן בְּמֹעַל יְדֵיהֶם וַיִּקְּדוּ וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲוֻּ לַיהוָה אַפַּיִם אָרְצָה." נחמיה ח:ו
“And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered: 'Amen, Amen,’ with the lifting up of their hands; and they bowed their heads and fell down before the LORD with their faces to the ground.” Nehemia 8:6
In fact, this element is so significant in the holiday that the name itself refers to it. Sigd in its Semitic root means prostration.
At the end of the ceremony, the Beta Israel would blow trumpets and declare "לשנה הבאה בירושלים", for their desire to celebrate in Jerusalem next year. The qessotch would bless the crowd and distribute dabbo, a special bread, and talla, a type of beer, to the community. They would then descend the mountain, dancing and singing along the way.
There are a couple of traditions as to when this holiday was established. On the one hand, it is held that it was established in the sixth century BCE as a day of thanks following a civil war between local Christian and Jewish factions. Another tradition dates it to the fifteenth century, established as an attempt to counter the Christian influence on the local Jewish community.
When the Beta Israel arrived in Israel, there was debate over whether to continue the celebration as they had finally arrived to the Holy Land. It was decided that as long as the Temple is not built, they would continue. The community, however, was split as to where to perform the celebrations. A majority continue to do so on a high point in the landscape, most notably the Armon Hanetziv promenade in Jerusalem, from which one can see the Western Wall. A smaller percentage, mainly those from the Tigray Province in Ethiopia celebrate at the Western Wall itself.
In 2008, Israel recognized Sigd as a national holiday. This became a sign of further integration of the Ethiopian experience into the larger Jewish experience. The largest celebration of Sigd in Israel today is at Armon Hanetziv, where state dignitaries join – including the president and prime minister. Today the festival is kept more symbolically, with individuals fasting until midday. However, the ascension with the Orit and the reading of the texts is still done before a crowd of Ethiopians as well as Jews of other origins.