Tradition & Innovation
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Ritual for Leaving, Arriving and Journeying

By Marcia Plumb

Invite people to come and ask them to bring a gift of some kind that represents leaving, journeying or arrival. They will also be asked to give a blessing during the ritual.

All sit in a circle, a niggun is sung.


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven;
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3.1-8)


And the Eternal said to Abraham: Go for yourself, from your land, from your birthplace, and from your family home to a land that I will show you. And I will make you a great people and I will bless you and make your name great and it will be a blessing (Genesis 12.1-2).

The leader recalls the leaving and arriving of our ancestors, how they were blessed before they started, how they took something with them, and how difficult the journey was and how successful they were in the end.

Each person goes round the circle and speaks for one minute win which she or he tells the story of a move they have made, be it physical or emotional. As they tell their story, they put their gift on a tray.

Then the circle becomes a tunnel with two lines of people, with the one who is moving at the top of the passageway. The mover goes in a figure-of-eight format from person to person. As she faces each person, the person she faces will give her a blessing, like peace of mind, health or contentment. Before leaving each person, she will respond, "I will take with me the memory of..." And mention something particular to that person. She then moves on to the next person. At the end of the passageway she discovers the tray of gifts upon her arrival as it were. The group goes after her and forms a circle again.

All say:

Barukh ata Adonai, eloheinu melekh ha-olam, she-heheyanu, v'kiyy'manu, v'higgi'anu la-z'man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You God, Sovereign of the universe, who has kept us alive, and sustained us, and brought us to this time.

All sing:

Lechi lach, to a land that I will show you
Lech l'cha, to a place you do not know
Lechi lach, on your journey I will bless you
And you shall be a blessing, you shall be a blessing,
You shall be a blessing lechi lach.
Lechi lach, and I shall make your name great
Lech lecha and all shall praise your name
Lechi lach to the place that I will show you
L'simhat hayyim, L'simhat hayyim
L'simhat hayyim lechi lach.
You shall be a blessing, you shall be a blessing You shall be a blessing lechi lach.

Debbie Friedman z"l

Originally published in Taking Up the Timbrel, eds. Sylvia Rothschild and Sybil Sheridan (SCM Press, 2001).

Complete Ceremony