An Intimate Name Change Ceremony For Healing

Found In: Healing from Illness

Tags: mi sheberakh

By Eliana Garrett | Complete Ceremony

Every person has three names:
One her father and mother gave,
one others call,
and one she acquires herself. (Ecclesiastes Rabbah, 7:1-3)

Using the interpretation of Jewish law found in "Code of Jewish Law" E.H. 129: "Bet Shmuel" 33 there; "Igrot Moshe" by R' M. Feinstein, E.H. IV 104, which states: "In essence, any name that a person is called by for thirty days, it becomes his/her Halachic name," the following ceremony was designed as an intimate alternative, or an ancillary feature of the more traditional methods of name change.

In preparation for this ceremony you will need:
- Matches
- 20 small candles
- Book of Psalms


Our Hebrew name is given to us in the language of the celestial courts. It is called when we are first given life, and called when we read Torah. It is spoken by the angels. Today, our dear friend (Old Name) comes before us that we may recognize their new name, given to her/him as an emblem of healing, and a sign of the light that lies ahead. We welcome you into our lives and hearts, (New Name).

Community response:
We welcome you ______
[The above line is recited in unison, communally confirming and publicly acknowledging the new identity, and the healing it represents.]

We know from our tradition that to spell a name with the verses of Psalm 119* is to seal it in the eyes of G-d. We who have gathered here in love and support read these verses in your honor, and in the hope that G-d will hear us, and grant you peace.

(* The lines of Psalm 119 are written in groups of six. The lines in each group begin with a unique letter of the Alef Bet. Locate in advance the verses that spell whichever name has spoken to the guest of honor)

[As each guest concludes their reading, they should approach the assembled and unlit candles.]

[While lighting a single flame, chant/repeat the following] 

El na, refa na la.
God, please heal her.

(This was Moses’ brief, yet powerful spontaneous prayer for his sister Miriam, after she was stricken with the biblical disease tzara’at.)

Bearer of the new name:
[Recite the following verse, and light a candle in affirmation]

Elohai neshama shenatata bi tehorah hi.
G-d the soul you have placed in me, she is pure.

Leader: (Note: this blessing is written in the feminine form, and would need to be altered if a masculine blessing is preferred.)
May the One who blessed our ancestors — Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah — bless and heal the one who is ill: ________________ daughter of ________________ . May the Holy Blessed One overflow with compassion upon her, to restore her, to heal her, to strengthen her, and to enliven her. May the One send her, speedily, a complete healing — healing of the soul and healing of the body — along with all the ill, among the people of Israel and all humankind, soon, speedily, without delay, and let us all say: Amen!

Mi Sheberakh avoteinu: Avraham, Yitzhak, v'Yaakov, v'imoteinu: Sarah, Rivka, Rachel v'Leah, Hu yivarekh virapei et haholah _____________ bat ______________ . HaKadosh Barukh Hu yimalei rahamim aleha, l'hahlimah, u-l'rap'otah, l'hazikah, u-l'hay-otah. Lah bim-hera r'fuah shlemah, r'fu-at hanefesh u'r'fu-at hagoof, b'tokh sh'ar holei Yisrael v’holei yoshvei tevel, hashta ba'agalah u'vizman kariv, v'no-mar, Amen!

D’var Torah from the guest of honor may be given, on why they chose this name and what they hope it will bring to their lives. Additionally you could ask each guest to voice a wish or affirmation in their honor.


Psalm 20
1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
3 May He remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. Selah
4 May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
5 We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.
6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; He answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
9 O LORD, save the king! Answer us when we call!

Psalm 91
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
3 Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge—
10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Psalm 103
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children—
18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul.

We have been told that wherever ten gather in the name of G-d, their voices will be heard. May that be so this night, and may the light of hope we have lit guide and protect ______ as she/he navigates the coming days, months, and years, surrounded by the love of all who know her/him.
And let us say, Amen.