Egalitarian Get (Jewish Divorce) Ritual

We have gathered together to formally recognize the end of D and A’s marriage. Both will remain members of our Jewish Community and both have pledged to be respectful of and kind to each other.

Everything has its appointed hour;
There is a time for all things under heaven:
A time for birth, a time for death,
a time to plant and a time to uproot
a time to kill a time for heal,
a time to break down and a time to build,
a time to cry, a time to laugh,
a time to mourn, a time to dance,
a time to scatter and a time to gather,
a time to embrace, a time to refrain,
a time to seek a time to lose,
a time to keep, a time to throw away,
a time to tear, a time to sew,
a time for silence and a time for speech,
a time for love, a time for hate,
a time for war, a time for peace.

A and D have secured a secular divorce, they are now going to formally part under Jewish law. This is a sad event for both of them. We wish them comfort and strength.

D: Prayer upon Separating
Creator of the universe, who witnesses the transformation of life, guide me during this moment of release from my marriage. Please help me to learn from the past so that I may grow now and in the future. I seek comfort from You during this time, saddened by what could not be. May I be granted the strength to seek a new life based on love, joy, trust and peace. May God, who brings peace to the universe, bring new peace to us and to all the people of Israel.

A: Excerpt from Psalm 51
Create for me a clean heart, God;
And renew a spirit inside me.
Cast me not away from Your presence;
And do not take Your holy spirit from me
Restore to me the joy of your saving presence.

A, do you relinquish your special status as D’s wife, freeing him from all claims rightfully expected from a husband? (A answers)

D, do you relinquish your special status as A’s husband, freeing her from all claims rightfully expected from a wife? (D answers)

A and D, Do you forgive each other for the wrongs you have committed against each other? (Both answer)

A and D, do you release each other with love and blessing for the important role you’ve played in each other’s lives since you met in 1998? (Both answer)

Do you have anything you’d like to say to each other? (Both answer)

D, even though the marriage could not be sustained, I want to acknowledge to you before the Rabbi and these witnesses that there were many happy and deeply meaningful times in our marriage and that I felt genuine love and connection with you.

The things that broke up our marriage are not impediments to our regaining a loving friendship in the future. We have been best friends, and I hope we can regain the spirit of support and camaraderie that we once shared.

I make the commitment to treat you respectfully, speak of you with respect, and act towards you with kindness, sensitivity, and compassion.

I aspire that someday we can regain our status as loving friends. For now, however, I still need a lot of space and request that you respect my privacy and personal boundaries. 

Should any emergency arise with your health, your mother’s health, or a death in the family, I will be there for you.

A, I know this has been a very hard period of you, both because of our separation and divorce and all that they have entailed, emotionally and practically, and because of your beloved father’s death. I hope that the months ahead will bring you healing, far easier times, and much happiness.

I am proud that under these often difficult circumstances, we have almost always treated each other with real respect and sensitivity. On those rare occasions when one of us hasn’t, we have found ways to rebuild trust and affection.

I fully share your hope that we regain a loving friendship. To help actualize this hope, I intend to keep respecting your desire for time, space, and the maintenance of sufficient boundaries between us. I also hope that, in time, we’ll be communicative, creative, and daring in drawing closer again.

For me, the paradox of this moment is that we’re affirming a breach yet also trying to achieve greater peace between us.  On second thought, perhaps there’s not a paradox at all; perhaps the breach s a necessary precondition for the kind of peace that we lost and wish to regain. May we both water the seed of peace we’re planting here and may it blossom in the months and years before us.

We were married for more than 12-1/2 years and have known each other for more than 16. During all this time, I have felt grateful for many things, especially your love, warmth, passion, kindness, and generosity.  You’ve also been a consistently caring daughter-in-law, and both my mother and I are very appreciative of that. For all these things, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. 

Rabbi (to Witnesses): 
Will you act as witnesses to this divorce procedure?

Rabbi reads aloud the basic get document in English. The Aramaic portion will be prepared in advance.

(In silence, partners write out the following document:)

“On the __ day of the week, the __ day of the month of __, in the year __ from the creation of the world, as we reckon time here in (city), (state) (which is equivalent to the secular date of month/day/year), I , also known as , do willingly consent to release and to set free you, my wife/husband , also known as , who has been my wife/husband from before.

You are now free of all ties to me, and if you so choose, you may marry whomever you wish. This is a bill of divorcement, in accordance with the traditions of Moses, Miriam, and the Jewish people.

(The eydim (witnesses), and Rabbi sign both documents, and A and D hand each other the appropriate get document.)

The eydim recite the following:

Witness #1:
May understanding hearts lead each of you to learn the process of healing. may each one have the wisdom to help heal and be healed by others affected by this separation of home life and mutual sharing of family and friends.

Witness #2:
May this document help A and D to acknowledge respectfully their desire to walk in separate ways. May each continue to contribute to the holy community that is our synagogue. 

Witness #1:
As they part, may D and A each accept this document as an opportunity to end any vestiges of conflict and strive for positive interaction in the future. 

Witness #2:
May each feel God’s protecting love as a guiding light. May each have compassion upon the other and upon themselves, and let us say, amen.

(Rabbi blesses A and D separately with the Yivarechecha blessing (priestly benediction), thanks the eydim, and proclaims the ceremony over.)

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