Havdalah: A Time of Separation and Renewal

By Marcia Cohn Spiegel

The concepts and symbols of Havdalah lend themselves to a variety of life cycle events. Our family has integrated special Havdalah ceremonies into all crises and turning points in our lives:

  • We gathered to say Havdalah with my father as he lay dying in the intensive-care unit.
  • My classmates from Hebrew Union College and our families performed a Havdalah ceremony the night before our graduation and entry to the world of Jewish professionals.
  • We named my granddaughter at Havdalah.
  • We marked the end of shiva for my mother at a Havdalah ceremony in her garden at the same time that we did a pidyon ha-ben ceremony for the newest of her great grandchildren.
  • We marked the bonding of two friends embarking on a life together.
  • We released my husband's spirit at the end of shiva under the stars and trees of our yard.



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