Havdalah Service for Moving Away from One’s Long-time Home

By Jacob Best Adler

Gesher Tzar M’od

Kol ha’olam kulo gesher tzar m’od,

v’haikar lo l’fakheid k’lal.

כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ גֶּשֶׁר צַר מְאֹד
וְהָעִקָּר 
לֹא לְפַחֵד כְּלָל 
 

The whole world is a very narrow bridge,

and the most important thing is not to be afraid.

—Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav

 

On havdalah

The havdalah service brings Shabbat, our day of rest, our glimpse of perfection, to a close. Just as we mark the beginning of Shabbat with ritual, so too, we mark its ending with a ritual. The word havdalah comes from the verb l'havdil, which means "to distinguish," or "to separate." Our havdalah ritual helps us to leave a special time and enter a new, unknown space. Havdalah marks the boundaries between two states of being: holy and everyday; light and dark; day and night; here and there.

At this time, we'd like to invite you to share a memory about your time spent here with the [name of family]: in this house, in this town, in this community, in this part of the country, in this world.

[Stories are shared.]

On the ritual objects

We affirm the holiness of this place in space and time by sanctifying it with a glass of wine. Though we drink some of the wine, we leave the cup partially full. The spicebox contains different spices with sweet scents, a reminder that even as we leave a sacred space, the sweetness of the spices, individually and as a combined multitude, will linger in our memories.

The flame of the twisted, multi-wicked candle represents the intertwining of lives together in community, the power of many working together, and the warmth created by community and togetherness.

On the separation ritual

Our havdalah ritual closes with the extinguishing of the candle in the remaining wine. The candle crackles as it is extinguished, affirming the significance of this moment of separation.

Reader: When this moment comes, we will be completely silent, in order to give the moment its full weight. Although this act is a sad reminder of separation, it is necessary to acknowledge our sadness in this moment of parting.

Reader: We are comforted in the knowledge that we will have the opportunity to light the candles together again in the near future, and that we will continue to feel the warmth of our shared love as long as we keep the fires burning in our hearts.

 

Havdalah Blessings

Wine

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָפֶן

Barukh atah Adonay eloheynu, melekh ha'olam, borey p'ri hagafen.

Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Sovereign of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

 

Spices

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא מִינֵי בְשָׂמִים

Barukh atah Adonay eloheynu, melekh ha'olam, borey miney b'samim.

Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Sovereign of the Universe, Creator of varieties of spices.

 

Fire

  בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא מֵאוֹרֵי הָאֵשׁ

Barukh atah Adonay eloheynu, melekh ha'olam, borey m'orey ha-esh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Sovereign of the Universe, Creator of the lights of fire.

 

Hamavdil Ben Kodesh L'chol

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַמַּבְדִּיל בֵּין קֹדֶשׁ לְחוֹל בֵּין אוֹר לְחֹשֶׁךְ בֵּין יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי לְשֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי הַמַּבְדִּיל בֵּין קֹדֶשׁ לְחוֹל 

Barukh atah Adonay eloheynu, melekh ha'olam, hamavdil ben kodesh l'khol,

ben or l'khoshekh, ben yom ha'shvi'i l'sheshet y'mey hama'aseh.

Barukh atah Adonay, hamavdil ben kodesh l'khol!

Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Sovereign of the Universe, who distinguishes between the holy and the ordinary, between light and dark, between the seventh day and the six days of work. Blessed are You, Adonai, who distinguishes between the holy and the ordinary!

 

On hope

We shift gears in our service, moving from sadness over leaving a sacred space, to joy in the potential of the future. We sing songs which remind us of the promise of better days, while also acknowledging, in the words of our wise teacher, Rabbi Bruce Springsteen, that "these are better days." Today this day, this moment, contains within it the seeds of hope. Changes don't just bring uncertainty, but also shining possibilities.

 

Eliyahu HaNavi

אֵלִיָּהוּ הַנָּבִיא אֵלִיָּהוּ הַתִּשְׁבִּי אֵלִיָּהוּ הַגִּלְעָדִי
בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ יָבֹא אֵלֵינוּ עִם מָשִׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד

Eliyahu HaNavi, Eliyahu HaTishbi,

Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu HaGiladi.

Bim'herah v'yameynu, yavo eileynu.

Im Moshiakh ben David, im Moshiakh ben David.

 

Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah of Gilead,

quickly in our day come to us

heralding redemption.

 

Miriam HaNeviah

מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה עֹז וְזִמְרָה בְּיָדָהּ
מִרְיָם תִּרְקֹד אִתָּנוּ לְהַגְדִּיל זִמְרַת עוֹלָם
מִרְיָם תִּרְקֹד אִתָּנוּ לְתַקֵּן אֶת-הָעוֹלָם:
בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ הִיא תְּבִיאֵנוּ
אֶל מֵי הַיְשׁוּעָה
 

Miriam HaNeviah, Oz v'Zimrah B'yadah,

Miriam Tirkod Itanu

l'hagdil zimrat olam.

Miriam tirkod itanu

l'taken et ha'olam.

Bim'herah v'yameynu, hi t'vi-eynu

El mey ha-y'shuah, El mey ha-y'shuah.

 

Miriam the prophet, strength and song are in her hand,

Miriam will dance with us to increase the melody of the world.

Miriam will dance with us to repair the world.

Soon, in our day, she will bring to us waters of redemption.

 

On saying goodbye

As we say goodbye to Shabbat, we step forward into a new week. We don't know yet what each week will bring, but we strive to remain hopeful in the face of the unknown. Although we are sad to see the [name of family] leave our community, we know that they are not leaving our lives, and that they will remain just a phone call (or Facebook post) away. We are excited to see where their next steps will bring them.

At this time, we'd like to invite you to share your blessings and well wishes for the whole family, or individual family members.

[Blessings are shared.]

We send this family off toward their new and exciting future with a song by Debbie Friedman, inspired by G-d's command to Abraham: "lech l'cha," "go forth!" The song closes with the wish that Abraham and his family will go forth "l'simchat chayim," to a happy life.

 

L’chi Lach

L'chi lach, to a land that I will show you

Lech l'cha, to a place you do not know

L'chi lach, on your journey I will bless you

And (you shall be a blessing) 3x l'chi lach

L'chi lach, and I shall make your name great

Lech l'cha, and all shall praise your name

L'chi lach, to the place that I will show you

(L'sim-chat cha-yim) 3x l'chi lach

לְשִׂמְחַת חַיִּים
      לְכִי לָך

 

 
Complete Ceremony

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