A Ritual of Healing from Sexual Violence

By Rabbi Amy Eilberg

This ritual takes place at the mikveh, following the woman's menstrual period. It is intended for use at the culmination of a grieving process for sexual violence. It is not intended to magically effect healing from such a traumatic experience. Rather, it is meant to mark and sanctify the completion of an extended period of emotional and spiritual healing work around the trauma of sexual violence.

The ritual is meant to be attended by the woman and a small circle of women friends and relatives, presumably who have been supports for her during the healing process. The ceremony may be led by the rabbi, or by one of the women.

All present may chant or recite the following responsively:

Sh'ma koleinu Adonai Eloheinu chus v'rachem aleinu.
Hear our voice, Adonai our God, have mercy on us.

V'kabel b'rachamim u'v'ratzon et t'fillateinu.
Accept our prayer with compassion and kindness.

Hashiveinu Adonai eilekha v'nashuva; chadesh yameinu k'kedem.
Help us to come back to You;
Renew our lives as when we were young.

Al tashlicheinu mil'fanekha v'ruach kodshekha al tikach mimenu.
Cast us not away from Your Presence;
Take not Your holy spirit from us.

Al tashlicheinu l'eit zikna; kikhlot kocheinu al ta'az'veinu.
Cast us not away in times of weakness;
When our strength is gone do not abandon us.

Al ta'azveinu Adonai Eloheinu; al tirchak mimenu.
Do not abandon us, Adonai our God; do not be far from us.

Aseh imanu ot l'tovah v'yir'u soneinu v'yeivoshu.
Show us a sign of grace, in spite of our foes.

Ki attah Adonai azartanu v'nichamtanu.
For You are our help and our comfort.

Amareinu ha'azina Adonai, b'ma hagigeinu.
Hear our words, 0 God, and consider, our innermost thoughts.

Y'hiyu l'ratzon imrei finu v'hegyon libeinu l'fanekha,
Adonai tzureinu v'go'aleinu.

May the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart
Be acceptable to You, 0 God, Our Rock and our Redeemer.

Ki lekha Adonai hochalnu; Attah ta'aneh Adonai Eloheinu.
For You we wait, our God; You, 0 Lord, will answer.


We are here to stand with you, to honor the healing process you have undergone from an act of violence. We grieve with you for the trauma you have absorbed. We sorrow with you for the hurt, the pain, the shame. We rage with you. We share your horror at what was done to you. And we marvel at your capacity for healing.

I would invite all those who can to put into words some of what they have felt about what you experienced - their anger, their pain for you.

Following the sharing time, all present may chant or recite the following:

Min hammeitzar karati Yah anani vammerchav Yah.
Out of the depths I call to You, God;
You hear me fully when I call.

Adonai li lo ira; ma ya'aseh li adam.
God is with me; I have no fear.
What can mortals do to me?

Adonai li b'ozrai va-ani er'eh b'son'ai.
With God at my side, best help of all,
I will yet see the fall of my foes.

Tov la-chasot ba-Adonai mib'to'ach ba-adam.
Better to depend on God than to trust in mortals.

Tov la-chasot ba-Adonai mib'to'ach bin'divim.
Better to depend on God than to trust in the powerful.

Dacho dehitani linpol v'Adonai azarani.
I was hard pressed, about to fall;
God came to my help.

Ozi v'zimrat Yah va-y'hi li lishu'ah.
God, You are my strength and my courage;
God, be my deliverance.

Kol rina viy'shuah b'oholei tzadikkim.
The homes of the righteous echo with songs of deliverance.

Y'min Adonai osah chayil.
The might of God is triumphant.

Y'min Adonai romema; y'min Adonai osah chayil.
The might of God is supreme;
The might of God is triumphant

Lo amut ki echye va-asaper ma'asei Yah.
I will not die, but live,
and yet tell of the deeds of God.

Pitchu li sha'arei tzedek avo vam odeh Yah.
Open for me the gates of triumph that I may enter to praise God.

Ze ha-sha'ar la-Adonai; tzadikkim yavo'u vo.
This is the gateway to God;
Here may we enter.


With all that has been said, with all that has not been said, with all you have felt and suffered in your heart, you survived. You lived to heal, to move into this moment of renewal. To sanctify the horror and the healing time which you have passed through, I invite you, ____________,to recite the words of the birkat hagomel, the blessing which thanks God for safe passage through a time of trauma.

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam ha-gomel l'chayavim tovot she-g'malani kol tov.

Praised are You, Adonai, Eternal God of all creation, Who graces all those in need with blessing, just as God has graced me with blessing.

Will everyone please repeat after me:

Mi she-g'malekh kol tov hu yig'malekh kol tov selah.

May God who has been gracious to you continue to favor you with all that is good.


_____________, you have done far more than survive. You have struggled, you have hurt, you have grieved and raged. And you have emerged, somehow stronger and more whole, to this moment of renewal, to a time of rebirth. Our tradition gives us a powerful symbol to use at times of rebirth and renewal. In the mikveh, the old can be washed away, and the new can be sanctified and celebrated.

At this point the woman may be encouraged to share in her own words that which she wishes to wash away, or something of the process of moving from grief and rage to renewal. When she has shared whatever she wishes, she immerses in the mikveh, with the beracha.

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam asher kidshanu bemitsvotav v'tzivanu al ha-t'vila.

Praised are You, Adonai, Eternal God of all creation, Who has sanctified our lives with mitsvot, commanding us concerning immersion.

After she has dressed, all those present form a circle.


_____________, we delight in the healing process you have undergone. As always, we affirm your beauty as a woman. We affirm the holiness of your body and spirit, both creations of a Loving God. We see the tselem Elohim - the spark of the divine, within you. We perceive in you enormous capacity for love, including the ability to nurture new life in love. We affirm your power and your strength.

Will each of you now add your own affirmations of this beautiful woman.

(Each one in the circle offers her words of affirmation and blessing.)

Od'kha ki anitani vattehi li lishu'a.
I praise You for having answered me;
You have become my deliverance.

Even ma'asu ha-bonim haitah l'rosh pina.
The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

Me'eit Adonai haita zot, hi nif'lat b'eineinu.
This is the doing of God; it is wondrous in our sight.

Ze hayom asah Adonai, nagila v'nismecha vo.
This is the day that God has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.


Mi she-beirakh Avoteinu Avraham, Yitzhak v'Yaakov, v'Imoteinu Sarah Rivkah Rachel v'Leah: May God who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and our foremothers Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, grant to this woman refuat ha-nefesh u'refuat ha-guf, a full healing of body and spirit, abundant blessing from loved ones, and an awareness of Gods presence with her as she moves from trauma into renewal. For You, 0 God of us all, guard us, and shelter us. You are a gracious and loving God. Guard our coming and our going, grant us life and peace, now and always. For You are the source of life and peace. Amen.

All those present bless the woman with the words:

Y'simeikh Elohim k'Sarah Rivkah Rachel v'Le'ah.
May God make you as our foremothers, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

Y'vorekh Adonai v'yishmereikh.
May God bless you and keep you.

Ya'er Adonai panav eilayikh vi'hunayich.
May God show you favor and be gracious to you.

Yisa Adonai panav eilayich v'yasem lakh shalom.
May God show you kindness and grant you peace. Amen.

Complete Ceremony

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