There are three pieces to this ritual, and one undergoing bariatric surgery could use any or all of it. There is a private pre-surgery ritual, a public post-surgery ritual, and a list of blessings one can say each day after surgery. Each section follows Jewish tradition by reconstructing an existing ritual specifically for this purpose. As aspects of this surgery are both public and private, it feels appropriate to ritualize this in both ways. This particular type of surgery is an all-encompassing, life altering surgery that has many potential physical and psychological ramifications. It effects: how one sees one's self, how others view (and subsequently react and respond to) someone, one's physical ability, one's daily food choices, one's health, how one lives in one's own body, and more.
PRE-SURGERY TASHLIKH CEREMONY
**Background: on Rosh HaShanah, Jews typically visit a naturally flowing body of water, into which we throw breadcrumbs that are symbolic of our sins. This reconstruction of the tashlikh ritual helps us to part with aspects of our pre-surgery life that we wish to move beyond. Included is a suggested reading, and instructions for completing the ceremony. It is intended to be used by the person undergoing surgery, alone or with one trusted companion, the day before the actual surgery.**
Person undergoing surgery recites:
Hineini Muchan Um'zuman. Here I am ready and prepared
I stand here in awe of the beauty of Adonai's creation around me, in awe of the flow of the natural world, and in awe of the wisdom afforded humanity. Through Adonai's grace, I embark on this life-changing journey. Make no mistake, this will be a difficult road. With the help of friends, loved ones, Adonai, and my own willingness to help myself, I will do everything in my power to weather this transition in health, increased wisdom and understanding, and compassion towards those assisting me, and towards myself.
(Pick up bread and prepare to throw pieces into the flowing waters with each line. Recognizing that this moment marks a major life transition, use this opportunity to say goodbye to whatever it is that you may feel has been holding you back. Suggestions below:)
- I cast away my distorted relationship to food.
- I cast away my feelings of self pity.
- I cast away my desire to avoid situations in which I feared judgement because of my size.
- I cast away my self-destructive behavior.
- I cast away my tendency to use food as a crutch.
- I cast away my shyness around exercising.
- I cast away my desire to hide the real me.
- I cast away my pain from the judgements others make about me, which hurt me so deeply.
- I cast away my anger towards myself for letting me get this way.
- I cast away my frustration with the “diet” establishment, which has damaged me so.
Take a deep, cleansing breath. Cry if you need to. Sit and take in your new reality until ready to leave.
POST-SURGERY BIRKAT HAGOMEL
**Birkat HaGomel is a blessing recited by one who has survived a life-challenging situation. It is recited during the Torah service after the person who underwent surgery receives an aliyah to the Torah. Most siddurim (prayerbooks) have the Hebrew text. This allows the person to publicly announce that they have survived the surgery, and to allow congregants to help them adjust to their new milieu.**
Person who underwent surgery recites:
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, ruler of the Universe, who bestows kindness on those who are committed, and who has granted to me all kindness.
May the One who has granted you all kindness always grant kindness to you, selah.
Daily Blessings – Nisim B'khol Yom (For daily miracles)
**Note that these can be recited each morning, as they are in the spirit of the morning Birkhot Ha'Shahar, or morning blessings. Feel free to post them on your refrigerator or on your bedroom mirror. Use some or all of them; whatever feels comfortable to you.**
Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who heals all flesh.
Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who opens my eyes to new ways of living in the world.
Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who guides me on my path of self-rediscovery.
Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who loves me as I was, as I am, and as I will be.
Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who enlivens me more and more each day.
Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who provides for all my needs.
Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who strengthens my ability to make the best decisions I am able to make for myself.
Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who grants me the strength to repair the world where it is broken.
Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who gives me the wisdom to be compassionate towards myself.
Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Who renews each day my resolve to live a life of health, love of self, and wise decision making.