In some families and in some communities, the poem Eyshet HayilLit. "woman of valor" This 22 verse poem from Proverbs 31 is arranged as an acrostic and is often recited in Jewish households on Friday night. The poem describes the characteristics of a "good wife" and is also thought of as an allegory referencing the Shekhinah, Torah or Shabbat. (“Woman of Valor”) is recited every Friday evening as part of the ShabbatShabbat is the Sabbath day, the Day of Rest, and is observed from Friday night through Saturday night. Is set aside from the rest of the week both in honor of the fact that God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. On Shabbat, many Jews observe prohibitions from various activities designated as work. Shabbat is traditionally observed with festive meals, wine, challah, prayers, the reading and studying of Torah, conjugal relations, family time, and time with friends. table rituals in honor of the women of the family. For some of us, the poem presents an old-fashioned and restrictive idealization of women. But the impulse to take a moment to recognize and value one another, and Jewish women in particular, may well be worth preserving. The following set of questions and ritual moments were developed to create a formal opportunity to honor and preserve someone‘s memory within the family or in another intimate circle (such as your havurahLit. Group of friends Commonly has come to mean an alternative prayer community. In the 1970’s, havurot (plural) developed as an alternative to large syngagogues. Some havurot pray together; others study, socialize, or engage in some alternative activity., book group, or organizational chapter). We also offer a new version of Eyshet Hayil that could be used to honor a woman on Friday night, Mother’s Day, or any time.
Pause to honor the memory of someone important to you by recalling her values and some of the details of her life. The occasion might be a yahrzeit(Yiddish) The anniversary of a death, usually marked by the lighting of a 24-hour yahrzeit candle and the recitation of Kaddish, the memorial prayer. For U.S. Jews, the unveiling of the headstone usually takes place on or around the first yahrzeit. (the anniversary of a death) or a birthday. The person you are remembering could be a family member or friend, a famous person, or someone who worked unrecognized by the outside world.
Many Jewish women, whether or not they were connected to traditional Jewish practices, led lives that exemplified what we recognize to be core Jewish values.
Did the woman whom you are remembering exemplify any of the following concepts in the way she lived her life? Share your answers.
Tikkun OlamLit. Repair of the world According to Jewish mysticism, the world is in a broken state. Humanity's job is to join God, as God's partners, in its repair.—repair of the world. This Jewish idea presumes that each human action affects the state of the universe and that our world can be repaired through social action.
Gemilut HasadimLit. acts of loving kindness. Often mentioned in reference to the famous Jewish saying, “On three things the world stands: on Torah, on Avodah, and on Gemilut Chasadim.” (Pirkei Avot 1:2)—acts of kindness. This concept, different from but related to charity or giving to the needy, involves caring for others’ needs through a generous sharing of oneself.
TzedakahCharity. In Hebrew, the word tzedakah derives from the word for justice. Tzedakah is not seen as emanating from the kindness of one’s heart but, rather, as a communal obligation.—acts of justice. It is the Jewish way of affirming that sharing material possessions corrects imbalances in society.
Ahavah—love. Love for humanity and/or love for God.
Share the answers to the following questions:
How were you shaped by the values of your honoree?
What did you learn from her?
Which of your own values and ethical choices can you connect to the example of her life?
Everyone recites together:
Today we honor _____________, daughter of ___________ (add other relationships as may be appropriate: mother of and grandmother of _______________ . . .).
Recite this new Eyshet Hayil (A Woman of Valor):
A mother of generations, a woman of valor,
She is precious in the gifts that she gave to our family.
Her children have found trust and truth in these gifts.
We follow in patterns that she taught.
(Here specify the gifts and qualities of the woman you are honoring.)
She is robed in strength and dignity, and she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
We benefit and learn from her wisdom.
May she always be credited for the fruit of her labor and her achievements.
May she live on in glory.
Take a moment to share spontaneous reflections about the person honored and any feelings you would like to express at this occasion.
The Family Tree
Etz Hayim Hi/ “It is a Tree of Life”
It is a tree of life to them that take possession of it
A source of happiness to each one who upholds it
Its paths are all pleasant,
And all its paths lead to peace.
This is the TorahThe Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general. of this family and its women.
Restore our history.
Renew our days.
Closing KiddushThe prayer recited over wine on Shabbat, holidays, and other joyous occasions.
We promise to try to pass this sweetness on to the future generations of our family. We partake of apples, honey, and wine to symbolize the bounty of the women and men of this family.
Blessed are You, our God, Sovereign of the World, who creates the fruit of the tree and the vine.