What follows is a short excerpt from a much longer ceremony. Please contact us if you are interested in receiving the full ceremony by mail.
The community sings together:
Nigun familiar to the community
“As the Israelites sang at the sea, so should the Jewish community sing when anyone of us chooses to liberate him or herself from old enslavements.” (The second Jewish matriarch, Isaac's wife, and mother to Jacob and Esau. Rebecca is an active parent, talking to God when she is pregnant and learning the fate of her children, then ultimately manipulating Isaac and the children to ensure Jacob's ascendancy. Her Hebrew name is Rivka. Alpert)
V’ha-aretz haitah tohu vavohu, v’choshekh al p’nei t’hom… (Breishit 1:2)
And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep…
Let us bring order into a disordered world.
Lit. Order. The festive meal conducted on Passover night, in a specific order with specific rituals to symbolize aspects of the Exodus from Egypt. It is conducted following the haggadah, a book for this purpose. The mystics of Sefat also created a seder for Tu B'shvat, the new year of the trees. means “order.” Traditionally, we use the term to refer to the Passover is a major Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jewish people's liberation from slavery and Exodus from Egypt. Its Hebrew name is Pesakh. Its name derives from the tenth plague, in which God "passed over" the homes of the Jewish firstborn, slaying only the Egyptian firstborn. Passover is celebrated for a week, and many diaspora Jews celebrate for eight days. The holiday begins at home at a seder meal and ritual the first (and sometimes second) night. Jews tell the story of the Exodus using a text called the haggadah, and eat specific food (matzah, maror, haroset, etc). meal that commemorates when the children of Lit. ''the one who struggles with God.'' Israel means many things. It is first used with reference to Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:29), the one who struggles with God. Jacob's children, the Jewish people, become B'nai Israel, the children of Israel. The name also refers to the land of Israel and the State of Israel. were freed from bondage in Lit. Egypt. Because the Hebrew word for narrow is tzar, Mitzrayim is also understood as "narrowness," as in, the narrow and confining places in life from which one emerges physically and spiritually.—“the narrow place.” Seder reminds us that there are many rituals to be followed, many prayers and blessings to be recited, stories to be told, and songs to be sung, before the Passover is complete. During Pesakh, we follow the “order” of the service in the Lit. "Telling.” The haggadah is the book used at the seder table on Passover to tell the story of the Exodus, the central commandment of the holiday. It is rich in song, prayer, and legend. There are many different version of the Haggadah produced throughout Jewish history. which leads us through slavery, to freedom, and urges us to dream beyond—to the final redemption and perfection of the world. Tonight, we also conduct a seder commemorating the “coming-out” of another narrow place—the closet of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender secrecy and shame that is often so necessary in a world that lacks understanding and courage. Our seder is a defiant act: order and freedom in the face of disorder and injustice.
Tonight we gather for a coming-out seder. Some of us are here tonight, because, recently, we have come to recognize something new about who we are and about whom we love. Like our people’s exodus from the shackles of Mitzrayim, rendering us a free people, we have made an exodus from the shame and fear of the “closet.” We have nothing to hide as we move toward a land of greater promise. This world is still so far from full acceptance and support of gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgender people, but we look to the warm faces around this seder table as a vision of a future world in which everyone can be safe and free.
Some of us are here tonight, because we want to envision a world of justice for all people, regardless of race, age, class, ability, gender, or sexual orientation. We are here because we are part of a family, community, or society in which so many are still not free from the “Mitzrayims“ of our world. We are here tonight to say that we want to be part of that vision, and we want to help make that vision a reality. We want those amongst us who mark their “coming out” tonight to know that we affirm their honesty and bravery, and we accept the honor they bestow upon us by sharing this moment of transition with us.
Sh’ma Koleinu, Hear our voice, O God!
The community reads responsively:
Our people have always sent our pleas heavenward, beseeching the Holy One to hear our prayers of longing, hope, thanksgiving, and praise.
But what do we tell our children who do not know their own voices?
We tell them to sing from their hearts.
We tell them to find the holy prayers within.
But what of the child who knows not how to sing?
What of the child whose prayers do not yet have words in this world?
We are all these children
We are a community.
What of the child whose melody ambles outside the sanctuary and hovers, looking on the service from afar?
What of the child whose voice speaks in the syntax of a different world?
We are all these children
We are a community when we can all beseech, Sh’ma Koleinu.
We are a community of voices, when each of us can speak the truths of our hearts.
Wine – Our Symbol of Joy
The community reads responsively:
Our people’s tale is one of freedom, revelation, and the hope and work for final redemption, when all the world will be whole.
But the final redemption is still but a dream.
Tonight’s story begins with the first moments of freedom. God promised:
V’hotzeiti etkhem mitachat sivlot Mitzrayim (Shemot 6:6)
And I will free you from the burdens of Mitzrayim.
Tonight we drink four cups of wine to mark our redemption from the slavery of the closet. With each cup we move from the narrow strictures of hiding places to our vision of a better world.
Tonight, as a community, we courageously cross the sea of silence. We affirm the truths of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members in our midst who bravely come out to us and to themselves. God in Her mysterious guises, God through the hands of this supportive gathering, fulfills the promise tonight to free us all from the burden of our narrowness.
We thus invoke the promise of the first cup and recite together:
Raising the cup of wine:
N’varekh et ein ha-chayim, matzmichat p’ri ha-gefen.
Let us bless the source of life that ripens fruit on the vine.
(Everyone drinks from the first cup)
These are our stories
At this point in the ceremony, participants may choose to share their own stories, readings, or divrei Torah explicating the meanings of coming out for each of them. The group may choose to reserve this honor specifically for participants who are coming out during this ritual. As those who come out tell their stories, they may choose to recite the following, recognizing this moment of transition in their lives and in the life of the whole community:
The community reads responsively:
We are a people descended from fiery prophets.
We hear their cry for justice.
Our mothers nursed their faith in the God of many facets.
Our mothers met each day anew in Her eyes.
Our fathers bent their hearts to new wisdoms.
Our fathers felt a changing world howl its greatness in their bosom.
We are children of joy and visions.
We ever renew the world toward wholeness.
We are young and old, rich and poor.
We are lesbian, gay, straight and bisexual.
We are men and women.
We are transgender.
We are wise and untutored.
We are creative and present in our bodies.
Let us, all of us together, cradle The 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. in our hearts.
Let us learn to walk its paths toward a better world.
A world only envisioned,
a world in which all are free,
all act on mercy,
and all is just.
Leader blesses those coming out:
Mi Shebeirakh imoteinu The first matriarch, wife of Abraham, and mother of Isaac, whom she birthed at the age of 90. Sarah, in Rabbinic tradition, is considered holy, beautiful, and hospitable. Many prayers, particularly the Amidah (the central silent prayer), refer to God as Magen Avraham – protector of Abraham. Many Jews now add: pokehd or ezrat Sarah – guardian or helper of Sarah., The second Jewish matriarch, Isaac's wife, and mother to Jacob and Esau. Rebecca is an active parent, talking to God when she is pregnant and learning the fate of her children, then ultimately manipulating Isaac and the children to ensure Jacob's ascendancy. Her Hebrew name is Rivka., The third of the Jewish matriarchs, Lead is the eldest of Lavan's daughters and one of the wives of Jacob. She is the daughter whom Lavan tricks Jacob into marrying instead of his younger daughter Rachel, whom Jacob has requested to marry. Leah is mother to six of the the twelve tribes and to one daughter, Dinah. v’Lavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem., Bilhah v’ Zilpah, Miriam is the sister of Moses and Aaron. As Moses' and Aaron's sister she, according to midrash, prophesies Moses' role and helps secure it by watching over the young baby, seeing to it that Pharaoh's daughter takes him and that the baby is returned to his mother for nursing. During the Israelites' trek through the desert, a magical well given on her behalf travels with the Israelites, providing water, healing, and sustenance. v’Rut, v’avoteinu, Abraham is the first patriarch and the father of the Jewish people. He is the husband of Sarah and the father of Isaac and Ishmael. God's covenant - that we will be a great people and inherit the land of Israel - begins with Abraham and is marked by his circumcision, the first in Jewish history. His Hebrew name is Avraham., Yitzchak, v’Ya’acov, The quintessential Jewish leader who spoke face to face with God, unlike any other prophet, and who freed the people from Egypt, led them through the desert for forty years, and received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. His Hebrew name is Moshe., Brother of Moses, chosen as Moses' interlocutor. His Hebrew name is Aharon. v’David, Hi t’varech et
______ bat __________she-ba’ah l’faneinu b’ometz lev l’hachriz al ha-z’khut ha-lesbit shelah
_______ ben __________ she-bah l’faneinu b’ometz lev l’hachriz al ha-z’hut ha-homosexualit shelo
_______ bat __________ she-ba’ah l’faneinu b’ometz lev l’hahcriz al ha-z’hut ha-bisexualit shelah
________ ben___________she-bah l’faneinu b’ometz lev l’hahcriz a ha-z’hut ha-bisexualit shelo
__________ bat __________ she-ba’ah l’faneinu b’ometz lev l’hachriz al ha-z’hut ha-transexualit shelah
_________ ben ___________ she-bah l’faneinu b’ometz lev l’hchriz al ha-z’hut ha-transexualit shelo
(Repeat appropriate line for each participant)
b’tokh ha-k’hillah ha-zot
For a man: Yigdal
For a woman: Tigdal
For group: Yigd’lu
For a man: Yismach
For a woman: Tismach
For group: Yism’chu
Ba-zeihut he-chadash/ ba-z’huyot ha-chadashot
For a man: she-hu matzhir
For a woman: she-hi matzhirah
For group of men: she-hem matzhirim
For group of women: she-hen matzhirot
hayom. She-ne’emar: Vayizaku el-Adonai ba-tzar la-hem mimtzukoteihem yoshi’em. (Psalms 107:13) ha-g’vurah
For a man: shelo t’hiyeh
For a woman: shela t’hiyeh
For group of men: shelahem t’hiyeh
For group of women: shelahen t’hiyeh
L’dugmah u’l’mofeit l’chol yoshvei tevel she-mitgagayim l’sof hester panim b’tokh libeinu u’l’pidyon nafsheinu bimheirah b’yameinu.
For a man: Y’kabel
For a woman: T’kabel
For a group: Y’kablu
Ahavah, chamimut, u’t’mikhach m’ha-k’hillah ha-zot,
For a man: m’mishhpachto u’m’chaverav
For a woman: m’mishpachtah u’m’chavereiha
For group of men: m’mishpachteihem u’m’chavereihem
For a group of women: m’mishpachteihen u’m’chavereihen.
Ha-ma’aseh ha-zeh (Ha-ma’asim ha’eleh) latzeit min ha-metzarim y’orer / y’or’ru banu Lit. Spirit. Some new versions of blessings call God "Spirit of the World" (Ruakh Ha’olam), rather than "King of the World" (Melekh Ha'olam). chadashah. (Ezekiel 36:26) La’avod b’yeter s’eit likrat ha-yom, ha-yom k’she-anashim homosexualim, lesbiot, anashim v’nashim bisexualim, v’anashim v’nashim transexualim lo yisb’lu od m’sin’ah, midei’ot k’dumot u’minha-haflaya, ha-yom k’she-kol am Yisrael y’chiyu k’mo am echad, v’chol yoshvei tevel y’chiyu b’shalom u’b’shleimut. Amen.
May the One who blessed our Mothers, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel, Bilha and Zilpah, Miriam is the sister of Moses and Aaron. As Moses' and Aaron's sister she, according to midrash, prophesies Moses' role and helps secure it by watching over the young baby, seeing to it that Pharaoh's daughter takes him and that the baby is returned to his mother for nursing. During the Israelites' trek through the desert, a magical well given on her behalf travels with the Israelites, providing water, healing, and sustenance. and An important female biblical character with her own book. The Book of Ruth, read on Shavuot, tells the story of Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and their return to Israel. Ruth’s story is often read as the first story of conversion. Ruth is the grandmother of King David., and our fathers, Abraham is the first patriarch and the father of the Jewish people. He is the husband of Sarah and the father of Isaac and Ishmael. God's covenant - that we will be a great people and inherit the land of Israel - begins with Abraham and is marked by his circumcision, the first in Jewish history. His Hebrew name is Avraham., Abraham and Sarah's much-longed-for son and the second Jewish patriarch. Isaac is nearly sacrificed by his father at God's command (Genesis 22). He is married to Rebecca and is the father of Esau and Jacob. His Hebrew name is Yitzchak. and Lit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov., The quintessential Jewish leader who spoke face to face with God, unlike any other prophet, and who freed the people from Egypt, led them through the desert for forty years, and received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. His Hebrew name is Moshe., Brother of Moses, chosen as Moses' interlocutor. His Hebrew name is Aharon. and David, bless
____________ daughter of _____________ who comes before us with courage to declare her lesbian identity,
___________ son of _____________ who comes before us with courage to declare his gay identity,
________________ daughter of/son of ___________ who comes before us with courage to declare his/her bisexual identity,
_______________ daughter of/son of ____________ who comes before us with courage to declare his/her/hir/per transgender identity
(Repeat appropriate line for each participant)
in the midst of this community.
May he/she/they grow in self-understanding and may he/she/they rejoice in the new identity (identities) that he/she/they affirm(s) today. As it is written: “They cried to the Holy one from their narrow places, and God saved them from their distresses” (Psalms 107:13). May his/her/hir/per/their strength be a shining example to all who yearn for an end of the hiding of God’s face in our hearts and yearn for the redemption of our souls, soon, in our days. May he/she/they receive love, warmth, and support from this community, from his/her/their family (families), and from his/her/hir/per/their friends. May this act (these acts) of coming out inspire us to work more diligently toward the day when gay men, lesbians, bisexual people, and transgender people will not suffer from hatred, prejudice, and discrimination, when all of Israel will live as one people and all who dwell on earth will live in peace and wholeness. Amen.
Bayom ha-hu y’hiyeh Adonai echad u’shmo echad.
On that day, God shall be one and God’s name shall be one.
Gesher Tzar M’od
Kol ha-olam kulo, gesher tzar m’od.
V’ha-ikar, lo l’fached klal.
All the world is a narrow bridge.
And the essence of living is not to be afraid.