We are about to embark on a special transition ceremony to mark the end of your college experience and the beginning of the rest of your life. We will recognize and honor this moment with a The ritual bath. The waters of the mikveh symbolically purify – they are seen as waters of rebirth. A convert immerses in the mikveh as part of conversion. Many Orthodox married women go to the mikveh following their period and before resuming sexual relations. Couples go to the mikveh before being married. Many, including some men, immerse before Yom Kippur; some go every Friday before Shabbat. ritual. For centuries, Jews have been marking transitions by immersing in natural bodies of water. Change can be terrifying and exhilarating, and immersing in a mikveh is a powerful experience that allows us to honor both of those aspects of transition.
Is this anyone’s first time immersing in mikveh?
If it is anyone’s first time, say the shehekheyanu blessing:
Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech haolam,shehekheyanu v’kiamanu v’higianu lazman hazeh.
Blessed are you Adonai, Creator of the Universe, for giving us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this season.
Discussion questions. Ask people to share if they feel comfortable:
- What scares you about the next step?
- What are some regrets you have about your college experience? What would you like to let go of before you leave college behind?
- When you immerse, you don’t wash away everything. What you’ve learned and who you have become stay with you. What lessons will you take with you on your next step?
Ask participants to take turns reading the following blessing before immersion:
We greet You where sand and sea embrace
Where lines between water and land erase
Where boundaries between past and future
Collide in the sacred now.
We spent years immersed in learning; we learned from books,
and from our successes, from our teachers, and our failures
We learned from each other, and we learned from You
We know that more learning awaits us
In different libraries, different communities, and different worlds.
We immerse in Your living waters to mark our voyage toward new beginnings.
An unfamiliar horizon awaits, and we prepare to navigate adventures unknown.
Guide us, Adonai, as we prepare to leave the universe-city behind
So that we may create our own space in the universe.
Help us, Adonai, as we begin to say goodbye.
We can never go back, but we can always reach out.
May we emerge from these waters ready to reach,
To stretch, to discover and explore.
May we emerge laughing, and willing,
Bright and unstoppable.
May every step beyond this shore
Be a step toward another kind of beautiful.
After each step away from the shore, take a moment to meditate on a memory that stands out from each of your four years of college. The first two steps are for freshman year, your entry into life as a university student. The next two steps are for sophomore year. Take two for junior year. Your seventh and final step are for senior year. Take a deep breath, run into the water, and immerse completely, so that every part of your body is embraced by the ocean.
When you are ready, emerge from the water and say:
In the book of life and blessing, wholeness and healing, may I, with all Your people, be inscribed for a good life, a life of shalom, wholeness and peace.
What excites you most about the future?