Allison Sibley Michael
This past week, it was my very great honor to be part of the process of bet din and mikveh that welcomed Ali into the Jewish people. Ali, it has been a delight studying with you and serving as guide for this portion of your spiritual journey. I know that you will be a blessing to us in the years to come; today, however, we have a few blessings for you.
Ali, we bless you with the sensory experiences of Judaism – the sights, the smells, the tastes and the sounds – the candles’ light that begins Shabbat; the oil heating for Chanukah latkes; the matzah and maror at the Passover seder; the chanting of the Torah to melodies that are centuries old, all these and so much more, which combine to create our Jewish lives and fill them with wonder and delight.
Ali, we bless you with the intellectual experiences of Judaism – the Shabbat morning talks that may focus on a single verse, or even one word, of the Torah text; the seder which begins with questions from the youngest present and may last until the early hours of the morning; and particularly your own place in the ongoing conversation of Jews through the centuries as we, each of us, scholars and students, study the practices, laws, stories and teachings of Judaism to direct and forge our daily lives.
Ali, we bless you with the spiritual experiences of Judaism – the oneness with the congregation as the Sh’ma is recited; completing a minyan to enable another to pray the Kaddish; the acts of lovingkindness and tikkun olam that characterize a Jewish life; the ongoing search for holiness and wholeness, the never-ending journey of exploration and growth; and the wrestling to forge a personal relationship with the divine.
Ali, we greet you today as a full member of the Jewish community, even if only briefly as a member of West End. We will miss sharing your journey with you but know that you will be a blessing to your new community in Pennsylvania. We bless you with all of the privileges and responsibilities of being a Jew. We bless you particularly with the questions, seeking and excitement that come from choosing to be a Reconstructionist Jew. May your life as a Jew be blessed. And, let us say: Amen.