A Ritual for Returning to Judaism

Found In: Choosing & Affirming a Jewish Life

Tags: mikveh

By Rabbi Michael Ragozin | Complete Ceremony

Overview

This ritual was performed by the individual returning and the rabbi.  The readings below were done in the chapel, standing before an open aron kodesh.

Prior to the mikveh

Chant three times:

Return us, O LORD, to Yourself, And let us come back; Renew our days as of old! (Lamentations 5:21)

Kavanah before entering the mikveh

Rabbi Akiva said, "Happy are you, O Israel! Before whom do you cleanse yourselves? Who cleanses you? Your Father Who is in Heaven, as it is written, 'And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean' (Ezek. 36:25), and it is also written, 'O You Hope of Israel, the Lord' (Jer. 17:13), just as a mikveh cleanses the unclean, so does the Holy One, blessed be He, cleanse Israel. (Mishnah Yoma 8:9)

Before entering the mikveh, think about what you want to give up and what you want to bring into your life.

Immerse in the mikveh

After exiting the mikveh

Recite/sing the following:

A song of ascents. Out of the depths I call You, O LORD.  O Lord, listen to my cry; let Your ears be attentive to my plea for mercy.  If You keep account of sins, O LORD, Lord, who will survive?  Yours is the power to forgive so that You may be held in awe.  I look to the LORD; I look to Him; I await His word.  I am more eager for the Lord than watchmen for the morning.  O Israel, wait for the LORD; for with the LORD is steadfast love and great power to redeem.  It is He who will redeem Israel from all their iniquities. (Psalm 130) 

 

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day.  Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.  Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead;  inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) 

Fashion a pure heart for me, O God; create in me a steadfast spirit.  Do not cast me out of Your presence, or take Your holy spirit away from me. (Psalm 51:12 – 13) 

Closing (rabbi to returner)

As our sages teach (Yebamot 46b), that through immersion in the mikveh one enters under the wings of the Shechinah (Divine Presence), we welcome you back under the wings of the Shechinah.