Tradition & Innovation

A Ritual for Parents and Students Upon Entering College

family members hugging someone in front of a door with lots of boxes

Part I – Shehecheyanu

Stand together in your child's dorm room as soon as everything has been brought into the room. Yes, stand among the suitcases, boxes, and duffel bags! Take a moment of silence to consider this moment.

Parent(s), you are saying goodbye to your child as s/he makes a home for him/herself outside of the familial nest.

New college student/child, you are standing on the precipice of an exciting journey.

Siblings, the family and home-life dynamic will be a little different now. You too are experiencing a life change.

In silence, wrap the yarn around your wrist a few times and then throw the ball of yarn to the next member of your family until everyone present is connected in a web of string.

Look at the faces that comprise family. You will always be connected to each other by the home you have shared and the stories you have in common. You all have great courage that has brought you to this day. The courage of ________ who will now explore and experience life on his/her own. And the courage of ___________, proud parent(s) who dare to step back and watch as your beloved child soars away from the nest.

Together, say the Shehecheyanu:

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olam, she-he-che-ya-nu v'ki-y'ma-nu v'hi-gi-ya-nu laz-man ha-zeh.

Praised are You, God, who created the world, who grants us life, who sustains us, and who brings us to this very moment.

(Cut the string so that each person now has their own bracelet to rememebr this moment, and each other.)


Part II – Mezuzah

In your first act of setting up a new home, affix a mezuzah on the doorpost of your dorm room. First, affix the mezuzah and then say:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olam,asher kid-sha-nu b'mitz-vo-tav v'tzi-va-nu lik-bo-a m'zu-zah.

Blessed are You, God, who created the world, who has made us holy through your commandments, and commanded us to affix the mezuzah.


Part III – A Prayer Upon Entering College

To be read by the new college student:

Atah chonein l'adam da'at, um'lamdeid le'enosh binah.
Choneinu mei'itcha dei'ah, binah, v'haskeil.
Baruch atah Adonai, chonein hada'at.

By Your grace we have the power to gain knowledge and to grow in understanding.
Favor us with knowledge, understanding and wisdom, for You are their Source.
We praise You, O God, gracious giver of knowledge.

I pray for wisdom to hold all truth sacred, whether it comes from the Torah and its interpreters of old, or from the scholars of our own age. Help me, Eternal God, to see beyond the surface of things, to understand that their beauty is but a reflection of Your wondrous creative power at work in me and in all the universe. Give me, also, a discerning mind, that I may recognize what is good, and reject what is false and harmful. And grant me a heart of wisdom, that, as Your partner in the work of creation, I may learn to use my knowledge for righteous purpose.

Wherever I go, and whatever I do, let me be a true child of my people Israel, faithful to justice and truth, eager for knowledge and insight. And may the study of Torah be sweet as honey on my lips. Amen.

sheet with above blessings

Siddur Sha'ar Zahav
My Heart's Meditation: An Erev Shabbat Siddur for Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges
On the Doorposts of Your House (CCAR Publication)


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