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Blessing Children

By Kolot

Feminine God-Language, Female Child

Tisimech Elohim k'Sarah Rivka Rachel vi-Leah
Tivareych Otach Ya v'tishmirech
Ta'er Ya paneha elayich vi-tichunech.
Tisa Ya paneha elayich vi-tasem lach shalom.

Masculine God-Language, Female Child

Yisimech Elohim k'Sarah Rivka Rachel vi-Leah
Yivarech Adonai v'yishmirech
Ya'er Adonai panav elayich vi-yichunayich
Yisa Adonai panav elayich vi-yasem lach shalom.

Feminine God Language, Male Child

Tisimcha Elohim k'Ephraim vi-chi-Menashe.
Tivarechicha Adonai vi-tishmirecha
Ta'er Adonai paneha elecha vi-tichunecha
Tisa Adonai paneha elecha vi-tasem licha shalom.

Masculine God-Language, Male Child

Yismicha Elohim k'Ephraim vi-chi-Menashe.
Yvarechicha Adonai vi-yishmirecha.
Ya'er Adonai panav elecha veechuneka.
Yisa Adonai panav elecha vi-yasem licha shalom.

For a Girl: May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.
For a Boy: May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe.
May God bless you and watch over you.
May God shine the light of Her face upon you and may She be gracious to you.
May God lift Her face towards you and grant you peace.

Marcia Falk, a contemporary feminist liturgist offers her own version of this blessing. Instead of wishing that the child be like someone else, this blessing asks that the child be as s/he is.

To a girl:

___________, Hayi asher tihyi — vahayi b'rukhah ba'asher tihyi.

To a boy:

__________, Heyeh asher tihyehveheyeyh barukh ba'asher tihyeh.

(child's name), Be who you are — and may you be blessed in all that you are.

Two Families Share their Stories

My family modified the traditional blessing of the children to be more inclusive by age and gender by having the oldest at the Shabbat table bless the next oldest. Therefore, I bless my partner, who blesses our six-year-old daughter, who blesses her 16-month-old brother, who kisses the keppi (head) of his teddy bear. As our Shabbat table changes, so does the order of blessings, except that the teddy bear always gets the kiss on the keppi.
    —Catherine Sull
Our four-year-old daughter likes to bless everyone by putting her hand on people's heads and saying a blessing in her "secret" language. It is great to see her feel that she has the power to bless folks and not just receive blessings. Our hope is that as she gets older her blessings will be more substantial than just "waka, waka, waka etc...." Who knows, though....
    —David Gerwin and Lisa Gersten

Originally published in A Kolot Egalitarian Bentcher: Shabbat Blessings and Customs for Your Home (Philadelphia,PA: Kolot. 2001). Used by permission of Kolot, Catherine Sull, David Gerwin, and Lisa Gersten. Marcia Falk's blessings excerpted from The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival, Harper 1996, © 1996 Marcia Lee Falk. Used by permission of the author. www.marciafalk.com