I welcome all of you, the women who have supported me through my difficult and joyous times. You are the Minyan of my Life. This ceremony is a commitment by me to a new beginning. Throughout our lives as we grow and change with new experiences, we say goodbye to old worlds and create new ones. I have visited the Mikveh to cleanse myself of old hurts and past chaos, forgiving the broken vows of my marriage. I would like to publicly acknowledge the good years that I shared with Ian, which produced our three wonderful daughters: Robin, Stephanie and Meredith.
This is a time for saying Shalom. I am honoring my old life as it is passing away and welcoming my new one as it is born.
I would like to go around the circle and have each of you introduce yourself and explain your connection to me.
Poem On Being A Woman
A responsive reading
In the traditional liturgy, Jewish men thank God daily for being born a man. In this poem Adela Karliner describes the value of being a woman.
Blessing of Tears
When we gather together to worship as women,
I thank God that I was born a woman.
As we bless each other and the women in our lives
The tears flow and through them we are connected
By grief, love, joy and insight.
Women connect to each other,
To mothers, grandmothers, foremothers,
To daughters and to granddaughters.
Your grandmother becomes mine
And my daughter becomes yours.
This connection is powerful–a strong current of feeling
Conducted by the medium of our tears.
To some, tears may be a symbol of woman's weakness.
Here they are the symbol of a woman's strength
Her ability to express feeling, empathy, connectedness.
Sh'khinah, I pray that Your spirit may pervade
Those whose tears will not flow; that they may
Experience the release of feeling that connects
Us to each other, to the tradition of our ancestors,
To our progeny and to all humanity.
For the blessing of tears,
I thank God I was born a woman.
Cindy Paley will now lead us as we sing:
B'ruchot ha-ba'ot tachat kan'fei ha'sh'khinah
B'ruchim ha-ba'im tachat kan'fei ha'sh'khinah
May you be blessed beneath the wings of Sh'khinah
Be blessed with love, be blessed with peace.
This part of the ceremony is associated with Keri'ah-rending of a garment in mourning, because I am mourning the death of a marriage as well as the loss of intimacy, love and unfulfilled dreams. Divorce is like rewinding a tape, going backward to the marriage ceremony.
Taking the cloth an ripping I say: "May the tearing of this pillowcase, representing the intimate love that was shared in my marriage, help me to set aside a completed portion of my life, allowing me to weave new and beautiful times and garments."
The passage of divorce is like a paving of one's way.
To what does it compare?
To the earth when it moves and quakes and shifts beneath one's feet
And when the movement stops one walks away shaken, touched, transformed.
Our prayer book praises God who makes day and night, rolling away the light before the darkness and the darkness before the light. In each individual life as in the life of creation there is light and darkness, times of great happiness and times of grief. In lighting this candle I am symbolically moving from the darkness of loss to the light of hope.
Once again let us join with Cindy in singing:
Yotzeir Or/The Miracle of Light
Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam,Yotzeir or u-vorei choshekh, oseh shalom u-vorei et ha-kol.
Yotzeir or u-vorei choshekh, oseh shalom u-vorei et ha-kol.
Or chadash al Tziyon ta'ir V'nizkeh kulanu m'heira l'oro.
Maker of light and Creator of darkness, who ordains peace and fashions all things,
Cause a new light to shine upon Zion, and may we all be worthy to delight in its splendor.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven;
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
We now begin the healing part of the ceremony. Stones carry great symbolism in Judaism. When our ancestors Jacob and Laban parted they built a mount of stones to stand as witness to their relationship and separation. We place stones on a grave for remembrance of a special relationship and what is no more. I would like you to help me with these stones of memory and wishes. I begin by placing several stones into this vessel to remember the good times Ian and I shared together, times of love, laughter, hope, friendships and our children. As we pass the stones around the circle l would like each of you to add your own special thought for my future, either spoken or silent.
(Halfway through, Rabbi August will explain the relevance of this ceremony to Parashat Ki Tissa (Exodus 30:11-34.35)--the broken pieces of the first tables God gave Moses.)
WINE...GLADDENS OUR HEART
We conclude this ceremony with wine. You may notice that this cup is only half full. There are many times we ask ourselves--is life half full or half empty? Many of you know that I was married to someone who always saw the glass as half empty. But the choice is ours. I choose to view my cup as half full and to fill this cup to overflowing because I am thankful for all that I have and hopeful for my future with a heart filled with joy.
Please join me in the B'rakha
Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, borei p'ri ha-gafen.
Praised be Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the Fruit of the Vine.
"Renew my vision, O God; give meaning to my life and substance to my hopes. Let me see that there can be no light and beauty without darkness and pain, so that I may grow beyond this time of struggle and loss. Give me the courage to integrate all that I have learned in this time of confusion and disorientation so that I can transform my life.
TOWARDS THE FUTURE
Woman Wisdom: A Psalm for Shedding Pretenses
Happy are we when we can be ourselves
And be thoroughly accepted
When our identity and personality
Are appreciated and affirmed.
Happy are we who need not mask
The feelings that flow within us and through us
And out into the world around us
Warming the hearts of our friends.
Help us, O God, to
Drop the lifelong defenses that prevent us from
Revealing to any at all
The self we would wish to be.
Visions of Hope
God, cleanse my memory of shadows and pain.
Help me see that I have been truly blessed
So that I may receive your blessing.
Whisper to my soul melodies of long-ago love.
With songs of love as my past
Visions of hope will be my destiny.
My ceremony is now concluded. However I choose to see this not as an ending, but a beginning---the first day of the rest of my life. Please join with me as we sing:
Barukh attah Adonai
Eloheinu melekh ha-olam
v'higianu, la-z'man ha-zeh
Holy One of Blessing
Your presence fills creation
You bring us here
You keep us alive
Sustaining our lives
Helping us reach this day.
MAY WE BE BLESSED
May we be blessed as we go on our way.
May we be guided in peace.
May we Be blessed with health and joy.
May this be our blessing.
May we be sheltered by the wings of peace
May, we 'e kept in safety and love.
May grace and compassion find their way to every soul
May this be our blessing.
WORDS OF SUPPORT FROM FRIENDS
- Be inwardly outrageous
- Dress to please yourself
- Let your creative spirit tumble, leak, spring, bubble, stream, dribble out of you
- Make more mistakes!
- Investigate your dark places with a flashlight
- Weave your life into a net of love
- Tell the truth faster
- Paint your soul
- Celebrate your gorgeous friendships with women
- Describe yourself as marvelous
- End blaming
- Shout: I'm here! I'm succulent and I'm loud!
- Bathe naked by moonlight
- Be rare, eccentric and original
- Be delicious
- Cradle your wounded places like precious babies
- Discover your own goodness
- Invent your life over if it doesn't feel juicy
- Practice extravagant lounging
- Seek out other succulent wild women
- Encourage the sharing of mutual treasures
- Buy yourself gorgeous flowers
- Smile when you feel like it
- Marry yourself first, promise to never leave you