Ritual Template for the Closing of a Jewish Education Experience

a group of children holding hands below a rainbow
The following is a template for a ritual that can be utilized to commemorate the end of a Jewish educational experience, such as a class, retreat, seminar series, or certificate program.
 
CANDLE LIGHTING
 
We will begin our ceremony with a candle lighting. I will call up ___ to light the first candle as an expression of gratitude for everyone who has worked so hard to make this class/program happen. With this candle we extend our heartfelt appreciation to:
Now, I invite each of you to light a candle and express a future hope or dream for our cohort/learning community.
RELEASING SELF-DOUBT
(Distribute flash paper)
For this portion of the ceremony, think about a fear or doubt that you came into this program with, that you have worked on releasing. I now invite you to write that fear or doubt on your flash paper, and one by one we will watch our fears and doubts disappear into the flames. You are welcome to share your fear or doubt, but you do not have to. This ritual represents how our hopes, dreams, and the support of our community can help us extinguish our fears and doubts.
 
APPRECIATION CIRCLE
(Distribute index cards)
 
We’re now going to do a written activity to extend appreciation to one another. Each person now has an index card with your name. Please pass that index card to your right. When you receive an index card, write something that you appreciate about the person whose name is on it. You can write something you have learned from them or something you feel will help them contribute to their community in the future. We will continue passing the cards around until everyone has written something positive about everyone else.
 
GRADUATION PRAYER
 
I will now call up ___ to read a graduation prayer by Rabbi Jonah Rank, adapted for our learning experience.
Our graduation may mark the finite end of our class/program/retreat/learning experience,
but it is just one of infinite points along the continuum of life-long learning:
a learning that lasts our whole lives,
and, by giving our lives meaning,
expands our lives—
as Proverbs says:
“For, through wisdom your days will increase,
and years will be added to your life.”
May our graduation mark both our completion of the class/program/retreat/learning experience,
and the continuation of our pursuits of wisdom.
Amen.
 
CLOSING BLESSING
 
We will close our ceremony with the Humanistic Shehecheyanu, a blessing said to celebrate joyous occasions. ____, please lead us in this blessing.
Let us bless the goodness which we have encountered in the world,
which has kept us alive and sustained us, and brought us to this moment.
N’-varekh et ha-tov
asher pagash-nu ba-olam
she-hekheya-nu v’-kiyy’ma-nu,
v’-higgi’a-nu la-z’man ha-zeh. Amen.
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