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Journey from Darkness to Light

By Rabbi J.B. Sacks-Rosen

Beginnings Creating a Sacred Time and Place

Musical selection: Holy Place by Debbie Friedman

Musical selection: B'rukhot Ha-ba'ot

Traditional religious ritual was designed, and continues, to meet a variety of needs that relate to life passages: The need for the individual to be acknowledged by community, the need for the community to read itself into the passages of each member, the need for bonding, which serves both individual and community, the need to re-enact dramatically the great stories and messages of the tradition, for the sake of individuals and of the tradition. Through rituals, we create structures that provide an element of predictability and, therefore, safety, around times of insecurity, transition, and/or loss.

Tonight light will play an important role in my healing ceremony. Light is very important in Jewish symbolism. It links the divine and human realms. Creation begins with God's command: "Let there be light!" Light also represents God's Presence and protection in the world. Kabbalists identify light with the Shekhinah, God's feminine aspect. The human spirit, n'shamah, is God's lamp, revealing all its innermost parts (cf. Proverbs 20:27). The Hebrew name for the memorial light is ner neshamah, "the lamp of the soul". On Chanukah, the lights of the chanukiah increase in number each night, symbolizing the strengthening of the Jewish spirit as it moves from moments of darkness into light.

The power of seven in Jewish tradition Rabbi J.B. Sacks-Rosen

Throughout the ceremony tonight, the lights will also increase as together we experience the stages of healing that I have gone through the past year since I was raped. The rape itself left me in complete darkness. Yet as I journeyed through each of these seven stages of healing, the light increased as my strength and faith increased.

I. Physical Pain  Reclaiming Health


Shifkhi kamayim libbeikh nokhach p'nei Adonai.

Pour out your heart like water in the presence of Shechinah the Holy.


O Protecting God, in You have I taken refuge;
Save me and deliver me from my pursuer,

Lest I become like the prey of a lion,
Torn to pieces with no one to save me.

Why do You stand far off, 0 God?
Why do You hide Yourself in time of trouble?

Why do You forsake me?
Why do my anguished cries bring no help?

I cry by day, but You do not answer;
I cry by night, but find no relief.

How long, 0 Holy One, will you wholly forget me?
How long will You hide Your Presence from me?
How long will my being be harried?

I am falling apart like spilt water;
All my bones are out of joint.

My heart melts within me like wax;
My strength is dried up like fired clay.

My tongue sticks fast to my palate;
You laid me low; I die in the dust.

Look upon me, 0 Holy God, and answer me.

Shatter the power of the wicked and their evil;
Punish them till wickedness shall be no more.

Be just to the innocent and the oppressed;
Permit men to strike terror no more.

Blessing for physical sustenance and bodily vigor

Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, hamfarn'seinu b'khavod u'm'chayeinu v'cho'akh.

B'rukhah at Adonai, Eloheinu ruach ha-olam, hamfarnesteinu b'chavod u-m'chaiteinu v'cho'ach.

We Praise You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe whose Presence sustains us and whose strength animates us

Candlelighting: First Candle

II. Shock Increased Knowledge and Heightened Awareness

Personal reading


When shock surpasses endurance there occurs phases of exhaustion, of anaesthesia in which relatively little is left and one has the illusion of recognizing and understanding a good deal.

She had, during these breathing spells, drawn a kind of solace from the recurrent thought: at least I am enduring it. I am aware of what has happened, I am meeting it face to face, I am living through it. There had been, even a kind of pride, a desolate kind of pleasure, in the feeling: I am carrying a heavier weight than I could have dreamed it possible for a human being to carry, yet I am living through it.

She thought: this is simply what living is; I never realized before what it is. She loved and revered all those who had ever suffered, even those who had failed to endure.

She thought that she had never before had a chance to realize the might, grimness and tenderness of God.

She thought that now for the first time she began to know herself, and she gained extraordinary hope in this beginning of knowledge.

She thought that she had almost grown up overnight.

She thought that she had realized all that was in her soul to realize in the event. It was when she came to the door, to walk through it, to leave this room and to leave this shape of existence forever, that realization poured upon and overwhelmed her through which, in retrospect, she would one day know all that had gone before, all that she had thought she experienced and knew-true, more or less, though it all was was nothing to this.

The realization came without shape or definability, as it was focused in the pure physical acts of leaving the room, but came with such force, such monstrous piercing weight, in all her heart and soul and mind and body but above all in the womb, where it arrived and dwelt like a cold and prodigious, spreading stone, that groaned almost inaudibly, almost a mere silent breath, an OHHHHH , and doubled deeply over, hands to her belly, and her knee joints melted.

Blessing for Awareness and Understanding

Attah m'orer y'sheinim u-meikitz nirdamim; v'atah someikh noflim v'zokeif k'fufim.


At m'oreret y'sheinim u'm'kitzah nirdamim; v'at somekhet noflim v'zokefet k'fufim.

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, ha-chonein mei'ito de'ah binah v'haskil.

B'rukhah at Adonai Eloheinu ruach ha-olam, ha-chonenet mei'itah de'ah binah v'haskil.

You, 0 Holy One, arouse us when we sleep and awaken us when we slumber, just as You support us when we fall and raise us up when we are bowed low. We praise You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the Universe, who endows us with knowledge, understanding and discernment.

Candlelighting: Second candle

III. Hate/Anger  Sources of Love

Personal reading


Faithful Parent and Healer,
Out of my distress I call upon You.
Hear me and heal me, 0 God.

You have already sent the gifts of Your goodness:
The skill of my physician, the compassion of others
Who help me, the concern of those I love.
And I pray that I be worthy of these kindnesses.

Keep me trustful in Your love, 0 God.
Give me strength for today, and hope for tomorrow;
Keep bitterness far from me; let not despair overcome me.
Give me patience when the hours are heavy,
Give me courage when the hurt is great.

Into Your loving hands I commit my spirit,
Both when asleep and when awake.
You are with me; I shall not fear.
Heal me 0 God, and I shall be healed.

Prayer for goodness and blessing

Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam, hatov v'ha-meitiv, ha-barukh v ha-m'vorakh.

B'rukha at Adonai, Eloheinu, ruach ha-olam, ha-tova v'ha-m'tiva, ha-barukha v'ha-m'vorechet.

We Praise You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, the Good from whom goodness grows and the Blessing from whom blessing flows.

Candlelighting: Third candle


Ha-tov ki khalu rachamekha
V'ha-m'racheim ki lo tamu chasadekha 2x

Ki mei-olam (2x)
Kivinu lakh 2x

Good One, whose kindness never stops; Kind One, whose loving acts have never failed--always have we placed our hope in You.

IV. Questioning Letting Go of Answers that are Not There

Personal reading

On the Book of Job:

This is the story of Job in brief:

Job is a good man. He is described as "one that feared God, and shunned evil." He is pious and generous, ever ready to help life's unfortunates. But then tragedies of the most horrible kind occur. His children are killed in a series of accidents. He loses his wealth. He is afflicted with a loathsome disease so that even his wife cannot bear to come near him.

From a happy, serene, prosperous man of faith, Job is reduced to a quivering wreck of a man. He had been led to believe that sin is the cause of all suffering and his friends hint strongly that Job suffers because he is a secret sinner of the worst kind.

Job cannot accept this. He knows that while he may have sinned, the pain he suffers is more than could have been required as atonement. "Why then has it all come about" is the question he hurls at God, protesting that God, in whom he still believes, must justify his circumstances.

God does eventually speak to Job "out of the whirlwind." God does not offer Job a reasoned argument but challenges Job to explain the mystery of creation. God asks, "Where was Job when the universe was created?" How can Job hope to fathom the wisdom of the Creator: How does Job explain the marvelous ways in which the sun, moon, and stars revolve around the earth?

What are we to make of God's response? The Book of Job seems to be saying that to grasp the ways of God, a human being would have to be divine. The human mind is simply too limited. It is incapable of fitting the mysterious universe into a neat and tidy scheme in which everything makes sense.

Job eventually bows in submission. He has not found an answer to his problem, but has learned to live with it because he has experienced God directly. God has spoken to him and has made him aware how awesome is life.

Blessing for holiness

Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam ha-m'kadeish et chayeinu bik'dusha.

B'rukha at Adonai, Eloheinu ruach ha-olam ha-m'kadeshet et chayeinu bik'dusha.

We Praise You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who renews our lives with holiness.

Candlelighting: Fourth candle

V. Shame/Self-worth

Personal reading



"Shalom" means "peace,"
But it means so much more as well:
Wholeness, fullness, and completion;
Integrity and perfection;
Healing, health, and harmony;
Utter tranquillity,
Loving and being loved;
Forgiveness and reconciliation;
Totality of well-being.

And even all of these together
Do not spell out sufficiently
The meanings of shalom.

But even though we cannot accurately understand
Or adequately define Shalom,
We can experience it.

We can readily taste
The sweetness of its presence,
The bitterness of is absence,
And the double blessing of shalom restored.

Blessing for freedom from shame and embarrassment

Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, shenatan lanu mikhvodo, l'hadrikheinu bintivei mikhlul.

B'rukha at Adonai, Eloheinu ruach ha-olam, shenatna lanu mikhvoda, l'hadricheinu bintivei michlul.

We Praise You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, for You impart to us Your own Honor, guiding us on the paths of integrity.

Candlelighting: Fifth candle

VI. Isolation  Community

Personal Reading:

Biblical Reading: With pure water I will cleanse you, and you shall be clean;
I will cleanse you from all that defiles you ...
I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you.
With this new spirit, you shall return to my ways to live
And you shall dwell in the land
And no more will you receive the reproach of the peoples
You shall return to My people,
for I remain your God.

Blessing for wholeness and completion (shalom)

Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, ham'vareikh et chayeinu b'shalom.

B'rukha at Adonai, Eloheinu ruach ha-olam, ham'varechet et chayeinu b'shalom.

We praise You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who blesses our lives with peace.

Candlelighting: Sixth Candle

Oseh shalom bimromav hu ya'aseh shalom aleinu v'aI Kol yisrael
(v'al kol yoshvei teiveil), v'imru, "Amen."

May the One who makes peace in realms above make a lasting peace for us and for all people and let us say, Amen!

VII. Hopelessness Reclaiming of Faith

Personal reading

Reading: Psalm 27

0 God, hear my voice when I call;
Be gracious to me and answer me.

It is Your Face that I seek, says my heart;
It is Your Presence that I crave.

Do not hide Your Presence from me;
Turn not away from Your servant.

Do not abandon me.
You are the Hope of my deliverance;

My father and mother abandon me,
Gather me in and care for me.

Guide me on rights paths;
Do not abandon me to those who do violence as readily as they breathe.

Would I had the faith that I might yet see
Your goodness while yet in the land of the living...

Yet You are my help and my light; whom need I fear?
You are the strength of my life; whom should I dread?

Though foes threaten and nearly destroy me, I will remain firm;
Though evil-doers press near to me, I remain steadfast in my faith.

*Just one thing I ask of You, for this only do I yearn-
To dwell in Your House all my life,

That I may be permitted to enter Your Sanctuary
Where I shall behold Your precious Presence.

There You will hide me, safe from peril;
In the recesses of Your tent You keep me secure.

You lift me up to safety on a high rock;
You raise my head above all my enemies.

I will bring You offerings with shouts of joy;
I will sing and will chant praises to You.

So hope in the Eternal and get strength;
Hope in the Holy One and take courage.

Achat sha'alti mei'eit Adonai otah avakeish (2x)
Shivti b'veit Adonai kol y'mei chayai
Lachazot b'no'am b'no'am Adonai (2x)
U'l'vaker b'heikhalo

Melody: "Help is on the Way" by Holly Near

Blessing: Self-Affirmation

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam, she'asani ishah, she'asani bat-chorin, v'she'asani b'tzalmekha.

B'ruchah at Adonai Eloheinu ruach ha'olam, she'astani isha, she'astani bat-chorin, v'she'astani b'tzalmekha.

We praise You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
for making me a woman,
for making me free,
and for making me in Your Image.


Explanation: Rabbi J.B. Sacks

Psalm 115:12-18

Adonai, who has been mindful of us,
May God bless us;

May God bless the house of Israel
May God bless the house of Aaron.

May God bless those who revere the Holy,
Small and great alike.

May the Infinite One increase you,
You and your children.

Blessed may you be by Shechinah,
The Creator of heaven and earth.

The heavens are the heavens of the Creator,
But the earth God has given to all people.

The dead cannot praise God,
Neither any that go down into silence;

But we will bless the Eternal
From this time forth and forever. Hallelujah.

Adonal z'kharanu y'vareikh, y'vareikh et beit Yisra'el;
Y'vareikh et beit Aharon, y'vareikh yir'ei Adonai, ha-k'tanim im ha-g'dolim

Yosef Adonai aleikhem, aleikhem v'al b'neikhem;
B'rukhim atem l'Adonai oseh shamayim va-aretz.

Ha-shamayim shamayim l'Adonai, v'ha-aretz natan livnei adam;
Lo ha-meitim y'hal'lu Yah, v'lo kol yordei dumah

Va-anachnu n'vareikh Yah mei'attah v'ad olam (2x), hal'luyah!

Psalm 118

Out of my straits I called upon Adonai;
God answered me and set me free.

Adonai is with me, I will not fear,
What can another person do to me?

Shechinah is with me as my helper,
I shall see my adversaries discomfited.

It is better to take refuge in Shechinah
Than to trust in people.

Min ha-meitsar karati Yah;
Anani va-merchav Yah.

Adonai Ii lo ira
Ma ya'aseh Ii adam.

Adonal, Ii b'ozrai
Va'ani er'eh v'sonai
Tov lachasot ba-Adonai

Mibto'ach ba-adam

Open to me the gates of victory;
I will enter them; I will give thanks to God.

This is Adonai's gate;
The righteous shall enter it.

Pitchu (2x) Ii sha'are tzedek
Avo (2x) vam odeh Yah. (2x)

Ze ha-sha'ar la-Adonai
Tzaddikim (2x) yavo'u vo; (2x)

(Return to first stanza)

I will give thanks to You, for You have answered me-
And You are my salvation.

The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.

By the grace of Shechinah has this been done;
It is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day which God has made;
On it we will rejoice and be glad.

Od'kha ki anitani; va-t'hi Ii Iishu-a. (2x)
Even ma'asu ha-bonim, haitah l'rosh pinnah. (2x)
Mei'eit Adonai haitah zot; hi niflat b'eineinu (2x)
Ze ha-yom asah Adonai, nagilah v'nism'cha vo. (2x)


Hashiveinu Adonai eilecha v'nashuva, chadesh yameinu k'kedem.

Turn us to You and we shall return; Renew our days as of old.

For the Blessings

For the blessings which You lavish upon me
in forest and sea, in mountain and meadow, in rain and sun,
I thank You.

For the blessings you implant within me,
joy and peace, meditation and laughter,
I am grateful to You.

For the blessings of friendship and love,
of family and community,

For the blessings I ask of You
and those I cannot ask,

For the blessings You bestow upon me openly
and those You give me in secret,

For all these blessings, Spirit of the Universe,
I thank You and am grateful to You.

For the blessings I recognize
and those I fail to recognize,

For the blessings of my tradition
and of our holy days,

For the blessings of return and forgiveness,
of memory, of vision, and of hope

For all these blessings which surround me on every side
Dear God, hear my thanks and accept my gratitude.

Charge and Priestly Benediction: Rabbi J.B Sacks-Rosen

Y'varekh'kha Adonai v'yishm'rekha

Ya'eir Adonai panav eilekha vichunneka.

Yisa Adonai panav eilekha v'yasem l'cha shalom.

T'varech otakh Adonai v'tishm'rekh

Ta'eir Adonai paneha eilayich v't'chunekh

Tisa Adonai paneha elayich v'tasem lach shalom.

May the Holy One bless you and keep you;
So May it be God's will.

May God's favor shine on you and be gracious to you;
So may it be God's will.

My God's countenance turn to you and bring you peace.
So may it be God's will.


Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, shehechiyanu, v'kiy'manu, v'higianu, la-z'man ha-zeh.

B'rukha Yah, Sh'khinah, Eloheinu malkat ha-olam, shehechiatnu, v'kiy'matnu, v'higiatnu, la-z'man ha-zeh.

We praise You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this moment.


Page 1: "Traditional religious ritual... and/or loss." Rabbi Debra Orenstein, Lifecycles, pg. XX.

Page 1: "Shif-chi kamayim." Lamentations 2:19. Translation by Rabbi J.B. Sacks-Rosen.

Melody used by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.

Page 1-2: "From the Psalms" Psalms 7:2-3; 10:1, 7-10, 15, 18; 13:2-5; 22:2-3, 15-16, 21-22 (Adapted by Rabbi J.B. Sacks-Rosen)

Page 2-3: "When shock surpasses," James Agee, A Death in the Family, 1957 Grosset and Dunlap. (Abridged and adapted by Rabbi J.B. Sacks-Rosen)

Page 4-5: "Here is the story of Job" by Rabbi J.B. Sacks-Rosen.

Page 5: "Shalom" by Rabbi Hershel Matt (adapted by Rabbi J.B. Sacks-Rosen)

Page 6: "With pure water..." Ezekiel 36:25--28, 30 (adapted by Rabbi J.B. Sacks-Rosen)

Page 7: Psalm 27 translated by Rabbi J.B. Sacks-Rosen

Complete Ceremony