Tradition & Innovation
Powered By The Reconstructionist Movement

Upon the Breakdown of a Relationship

By Helen Freeman

Have ready a bowl of beautiful stones chosen as an appropriate symbol because Jewish people put them on a grave for remembrance a jar or vase in which to keep them after the ceremony and another bowl for discarded stones. All participants enter and sit down in a circle in silence. It is helpful to have something calming and beautiful to concentrate on at the center of the circle. It might be a scented candle or an arrangement of flowers or stones. After a short silence, the ritual is begun by introducing some meditative music; it might be a niggun, which is gentle and repetitive, someone to play a musical instrument, or a tape of meaningful music.


M'kor Hayyim, Source of life and blessing and of strength, we come before you this day to ask for your help.


We are Israel, descendants of the one who struggled with God and with human beings and prevailed, so pain and struggle is something knit into our very souls.

We are the descendants of the prophets and sages of Israel, of Rabbi Akiva and Beruriah who knew great sadness, and yet found the inner strength to integrate that struggle and so move forward in their lives.


We knew the pain of the Jewish people in exile, who struggled in impossible circumstances to honour Your name and to feel the companionship of the Sh'khinah, the loving Presence, who is with us wherever we go.

Yet sadness and loss is hard to bear, disappointment and pain a great trial, so we ask Your help and blessing, for _____ whose relationship with ____ has broken down after _____ years.

All sing:

Kol ha-olam kulo gesher tzar m'od, v'ha-ikkar lo l'fahed klal.

All the world is a very narrow bridge, the essential thing is not to be afraid.

Silent prayer and meditation

The person making the relationship breakdown or divorce is asked to speak. (if they are too upset, they can prepare a text beforehand which is given to a close friend or family member to read during the ritual. Alternatively, they can have prepared a document to read at this point that mirrors the ketubah.)

The person picks up a stone and says:

I want to remember the good things we shared in our time together like laughter, hope, friendships and (where appropriate) children.

For each of the good things, they add one of the stones to the central position where the candle or flowers or stones are already situated.

The person takes up another stone and says :

I want to let go of the bitterness and disappointment and despair that marked the end of our relationship.

For each of the bad things, one of the stones is put outside the circle enacting the ritual.

The bowl of stones is then passed around the circle so that others may add something good to the promises for the future by saying things like:

I value my friendship with ______ and will be with her/him during the low times there might be.

For each of the promises of support, a stone is added to the central point so that there is a visible reminder that the person will not be alone in sadness, however low she or he might feel.

All present read:

As those who came before us were blessed in the presence of the communities that sustained them, so we offer our blessings for one among us in need of healing.

_______, may you have comfort and relief in the healing of body and mind, and may you return in time to health and wholeness and struggle.

The person marking the end of her or his relationship:

Renew my vision, O God; give meaning to my life and substance to my hopes. Let me see that there can be no light and beauty without darkness and pain, so that I may grow beyond this time of struggle and loss. Give me the courage to integrate all that I have learned in this time of confusion and disorientation , so that I can transform my life. Amen.

All sing:

Im ein ani li, mi li,
u-kh'she-ani l'atzmi mah ani,
v'imlo akhshav eimatai.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me, and if I am only for myself, what am I, and if not now, when?

At the end of the ritual, the person takes the stones home to keep as a symbol of hope for the future.

The discarded stones can be buried in the ground with the support of a rabbi or friend and the following said.

As I return these stones to the earth for which they came, so I let go of the pain that was present in my relationship with _____ . The cycle is complete and that time is over.

Complete Ceremony

Found in: Divorce, Separation