In Jewish tradition the family and communal lives of women were rarely recorded. We do not know just what kinds of support women offered one another at the time of birth. This evening we will create – or re-create – a celebration for the yoledet, the birthing mother – to honor ____________ and _____________ [names of mother and newborn child]. Our celebration will incorporate what we know about the needs and desires of birthing women in general and _________ in particular, and it will include physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual nourishment and support. It will also include seven blessings. (In Jewish tradition the number seven symbolizes wholeness.)
Let us begin as we begin any Jewish celebration – with a cup of wine.
Barukh Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, borei p'ri ha-gafen.
Blessed are You, God, Ruler of all, Who creates the fruit of the vine.
In order to help provide for _________'s needs I have asked each of us to bring some freezable, tasty, healthy dish. This will help the "focus" woman in two ways: Not only will it provide food for her family and herself, but it will also allow __________ to focus her time and energy on other things than cooking in these first weeks of adjusting to being a family of five. The foods are stored in _______'s freezer, but on the table here are some tasty and healthy foods which we can enjoy now as we continue. Even when pregnancy and birth are normal, there is some risk to the health and safety of mother and child. On behalf of __________ and herself, __________ will recite Birkat HaGomel.
Barukh Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, ha-gomel la-chayavim tovot, she-g'malani kol tov.
Blessed are You, God, Ruler of all, Who graciously bestows favor upon the undeserving, even as God has bestowed favor upon me.
Mi she-g'malekh kol tov, hu yig'malekh kol tov, selah.
May God Who has blessed you continue to bless you and be with you with all that is good.
As we remember with thanksgiving our safe passage through the risks of childbirth, we also remember that birth is a normal physiological, emotional, and spiritual passage. We thank God for our wondrous bodies.
Barukh attah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, shehecheyanu, v'kiy'manu, v'higianu, la-z'man ha-zeh.
Blessed are You God, Ruler of all, Who has brought us to life, sustained us, and brought us to this moment.
Our intellectual needs continue even though there is less and less time to meet them as the immediate demands of laundry, carpools, meal preparation, story time, bath time, seem to take over our lives. To provide _________ with some intellectual nourishment, I offer a dvar Torah on one of the many birth stories in the Bible to see what our ancestors can teach us about birth, babies, motherhood, children, families.
(Leader shares d'var torah.)
Barukh Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu la'asok b'divrei Torah.
Blessed are You, God, Ruler of all, Whose mitzvot add holiness to our lives and Who gave us the mitzvah to study Torah.
Birth, infancy, motherhood, child rearing are all spiritual experiences, as well as physical and emotional ones. I will pass out some paper and pens and ask each person to write down a personal blessing, prayer or meditation for __________ and ____________ (newborn child) and _________ (husband and other children). As blessings and prayers should, these will reflect who each of us is, as well as who _________ is. If we want, we can share these blessings out loud when we are finished. If we prefer, they can remain private. We will put them in this bag (which reminds me of a lawyer's briefcase covered with soft baby-like fabric) for ___________ to keep.
From A Ceremonies Sampler: New Rites, Celebrations, and Observances of Jewish Women, ed. Elizabeth Resnick Levine, (San Diego: Woman's Institute for Continuing Jewish Education, 1991), pp. 13-18.Used with permission of the author.