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Blessing One's Children

From Kolot

"The Book of Blessings," published by Marcia Falk in 1996, has become a cherished treasure of modern liturgy. In her commentary on Blessing the Children she writes: "The custom of blessing one’s children on the eve of the Sabbath and holidays is an especially poignant Jewish ritual, but the content of the traditional blessing is rather puzzling. …[I]t asks God to make the male child like Ephraim and Menasheh; an adaptation for girls asks that they be like the foremothers Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. Why Ephraim and Menashe, one cannot help but wonder – indeed any particular ancestors at all? In its specificity, this blessing seems restrictive rather than expansive; it doesn’t open out to the range of possibility and promise that ought to characterize youth."

She offers these alternative blessings.

To a girl:

 _______________ (the child’s name), 

 Hayi asher tihyi –                                       
 vahayi beruhah
 ba’asher tihyi.

Be who you are –
and may you be blessed
in all that you are. 

To a boy:

 ________________ (the child’s name),

 Heyeyh asher tihyeh –                                
 veheyeyh baruh
 ba’asher tihyeh.

Be who you are –
and may you be blessed
in all that you are. 

From The Book of Blessings (Boston: Beacon Press), copyright 1996 by Marcia Lee Falk