Sunday, August 20, 2006
26 Av, 5766
1. Baby’s entrance
Elana Shira is brought in by her grandfathers, Dr. Stanley Small and Dr. Yitzchok Zlochower.
Devorah: We greet Elana Shira with the words ברוכה הבאה; Beruha HaBa’a.
Yehoshua holds Elana Shira as Yehoshua and Samantha join Devorah on the bimaThe stage or platform on which the person leading prayers stands..
Devorah: Elana Shira is wrapped in the tallitA four-cornered garment to which ritual fringes (tzitzit/tzitzi'ot) are affixed. The knots in the fringes represent the name of God and remind us of God's commandments. The tallit is worn during prayer and can also be drawn about oneself or around the bride and groom to symbolize divine protection. that was given to Samantha by Yehoshua at their wedding. The numerical value of ציצית, tzitzitA set of fringes tied and knotted on each of the four corners of a tallit, symbolizing and reminding the user of God's commandments. Some Jews wear tzizit under their clothes at all times, with the fringes visible., the fringes of the tallit is 600. Our Sages tell us that the 600 symbolized by the ציצית along with the 8 strands and 5 knots on each corner equal 613, the traditional number of mitzvoth or commandments. By wearing her mother’s tallit, Elana Shira is wrapped in the 613 commandments, the covenantal bond between God and the Jewish people.
2. Candle lighting
Devorah: Samantha and Yehoshua now light two candles to welcome Elana Shira officially and in the presence of the community into their home.
Samantha lights one candle. Yehoshua and Samantha together light a second candle from the first candle.
Samantha and Yehoshua: When one candle lights another, its light is not diminished, rather, the light in the world increases. In this way, little girl, you have already added your light to the light of our family. May you continue to bless us and all those you touch with your light and your life.
Devorah: The book of Proverbs, Mishle, tells us כי נר מצוה ותורה אור – For the commandments are a candle and 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. is light. As the tallit symbolizes the commandments, the light of the candles stands for the illumination of Torah study, the sacred right and obligation of all Jews.
Yehoshua and Samantha: We stand in awe before the miracle of birth, the mystery and majesty of life, our own fragility and the power of God. We accept the responsibility of raising our daughter to maturity. We are overcome with a deep sense of love, joy and happiness. We are grateful to you, God, for all that has transpired and all that is yet to unfold.
3. שיר השירים – Song of Songs
Devorah: Jewish girls have been welcomed into their families and communities with words of Torah since early modern times. Sefardic and Italian Jews in the 17th century had a ceremony called a זבד הבת, zeved ha’bat, in which they officially entered their daughters into the Jewish community. As the baby girl was brought in she was greeted by verses from the Song of Songs, King Solomon’s beautiful love poem to God. Samantha’ sister, Gaby will recite the verses of שיר השירים from the זבד הבת.
יוֹנָתִי בְּחַגְוֵי הַסֶּלַע
Yonati bi’khagvey ha’selah
O, my dove in the rocky clefts
In the covert of terrace high
Let me see thy countenance
Let me hear thy voice
For sweet is thy voice
And thy countenance comely
4. נטילת ידים – Washing of the Hands
Devorah: As light is a central motif in Judaism so is water. MosheThe 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. is drawn from water, the Israelites cross the Red Sea in their exodus from Egypt but water has special significance for Biblical women. RivkaThe 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., our mother RebeccaThe 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. enters the family of AbrahamAbraham 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. and when she draws water for Abraham’s servant and his caravan of camels; her patient filling and refilling of the ewer demonstrating her compassion for both human an animal. MiriamMiriam 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. watches baby Moshe in the water and later on, the midrashA rabbinic method of interpreting text, often through the telling of stories. tells us, the Israelites in the desert getA writ of divorce. Traditionally, only a man can grant his wife a get. Liberal Jews have amended this tradition, making divorce more egalitarian. their water from a rock in Miriam’s merit. And of course, Miriam leads the women in song and dance at the Red Sea after the Israelites’ miraculous salvation.
We are reminded of the centrality of water to Jewish life and history as we perform the ritual act of hand washing, נטילת ידים – netillat yadayim, before eating bread and when we greet the day. As Yehoshua and Samantha usher their daughter into their family, into the Jewish community and into the line of Jewish women they wash her hands.
Yehoshua holds Elana Shira as Samantha washes the hands. Both recite the blessing.
Samantha and Yehoshua:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם
Barukh Atah Ado-n-ay Elo-hey-nu Melekh ha’olam asher kidishanu bi’mitzvotav vi’tzivanu al netillat yadayim.
Blessed are You, Ado-n-ai our God who has sanctified us with His mitzvotLit. Commandment. It is traditionally held that there are 613 mitzvot (plural) in Judaism, both postive commandments (mandating actions) and negative commandments (prohibiting actions). Mitzvah has also become colloquially assumed to mean the idea of a “good deed." and commanded us on the washing of the hands.
Samantha holds Elana Shira as both say:
We have washed your hands with the Water of Life with which You, God, have blessed heaven and earth.
You are now a daughter of the Covenant of the People IsraelLit. ''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.. You are a daughter of SarahThe 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., Rebecca, RachelLavan'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. and LeahThe 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., of Miriam, EstherHeroine of the Purim story and Megillat (the scroll of) Esther. She is married to the king by her cousin Mordecai and ultimately saves her people from execution. and Avigayil. You are a daughter of your great-grandmothers, Elsie, Gertrude, Sarah and Miriam. You are a daughter of your grandmothers, Amy and Marcia. You are a daughter of your wise, beautiful and strong mother, Sara BrachaA blessing. You are a daughter of all the strong, gentle and wise women of Israel.
5. קריאת שם – Naming the Baby
Devorah: I would like to call up the two grandmothers, Amy Small and Marcia Zlochower, to hold the baby for the naming ceremony.
As the grandmothers ascend the bima and receive the baby, Gaby recites the following verse.
מִי זֹאת הֲנִשְׁקְפָה כְּמוֹ שַׁחַר
Mi zot ha’nishkafa kemo shakhar
Who is she who shines through the dawn, beautiful as the moon, radiant as the sun?
Mi she’berakh Sarah, Rivka, Rachel v’Leah, u’Miriam ha’Nevia v’Avigayil, v’Esther ha’Malka bat Avikhayil. Hu yivarekh et ha’yalda ha’neima ha’zot vi’nikra shemah bi’Yisrael: Elana Shira bat ha’Rav Yehoshua Zanvil vi’Sara Bracha
B’mazelGood fortune, luck, and the Hebrew sign of the Zodiac. tov uvi’shaat brakha vi’yigadlah l’Torah ul’huppa ul’maasim tovimLit. Good deeds. The traditional prayer for a newborn infant at his or her brit milah or baby naming concludes, "May s/he grow to Torah, to Chuppah, and to ma'asim tovim." v’nomar Amen.
May the One who blessed our mothers, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, Miriam the Prophet, AvigailOne of David's wives and a prophetess, known for her cleverness and beauty. She has the longest continous monologue of any woman in Hebrew scripture. Her Hebrew name is Avigail. and Esther the Queen,
May God bless this beautiful girl called Elana Shira
daughter of Rav Yehoshua Zanvil and Sarah Bracha.
May they raise her for Torah, the huppa and good deeds and let us say Amen.
Elana Shira is named after her parents’ maternal grandmothers, Elsie and Sarah. Their daughters, Elana’s grandmothers, will share a few memories.
Amy and Marcia speak.
Devorah: Yehoshua and Samatha have chosen the name Elana Shira for their daughter. As we have heard Elana Shira is named for two great-grandmothers, Elsie and Sarah. Samantha and Yehoshua have chosen to memorialize their maternal grandmothers with two names Elana and Shira.
Elana is a tree, an oak tree, my brother tells me. Trees are a significant symbol in Judaism. Every time we return the Torah to the Aron we say עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה – etz hayim hi la’mahazikim bah, Torah is a living tree to those who uphold her.
Shira is a song, a poem, a beautiful melody. The Bible is full of songs of women, the song of Miriam, the song of Devorah and the song of Chana. Biblical songs have marked both national triumphs and personal glories. In fact, Torah itself is called a shira.
In combining these two names, Yehoshua and Samantha, you give Elana Shira a message of strength combined with beauty, of the significance of a tree that stands for many years along with the importance of a melody that remains in the air but a moment. Both are powerful expressions of what Jewish living can be. Jewish observance and ritual glorify the sacred moment, special occasions like today and they also sanctify each and every day. May Elana Shira grow strong, steadfast in her opinions and beliefs, with a lightness of spirit, an ease and comfort, knowing her place in the Jewish community.
The TalmudThe rabbinic compendium of lore and legend composed between 200 and 500 CE. Study of the Talmud is the focus of rabbinic scholarship. The Talmud has two versions, the main Babylonian version (Bavli) and the smaller Jerusalem version (Yerushalmi). It is written in Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic. in Taanit 5b-6a relates the following story:
Rav Nahman and Rabbi Yitzhak were eating together. When the time came for them to part, Rav Nahman entreated Rabbi Yitzhak, “Bless me.” Said Rabbi Yitzhak, “I will tell you a parable. To what may this be compared? To one who was journeying in the desert, hungry, weary and thirsty and came upon a tree the fruits of which were sweet, its shade pleasant, and a stream of water flowing beneath it. The wayfarer ate of its fruits, drank of the water, and rested under its shade. When he was about to continue his journey, he said: אילן אילן -Elan, Elan,Tree, O Tree, with what shall I bless thee? Shall I say to you, ‘May your fruits be sweet’? They are sweet already. That your shade be pleasant? It is already pleasant. That a stream of water may flow beneath you? A stream of water flows already beneath you. So with this I bless you, “May it be God’s will that all the shoots taken from you be like you.”
“So also with you”, said Rabbi Yitzhak to Rav Nahman, “with what shall I bless you? With Torah? You already possess it. With riches? You have riches already. With children? You have children already. May it be God’s will that your offspring be like you.”
Yehoshua and Samantha how shall we bless you? You possess so much, a love for each other, a commitment to caring for humanity, and a passion for Jewish life. In the words of Rabbi Yitzhak, may Elana Shira and Sammy, Gavriel Shmuel, grow to be like you, compassionate and caring, intelligent and inquiring, and committed to a Judaism that speaks to the soul as well as the mind.
6. Blessing over wine
The grandfathers now ascend the bima. A cup of wine is handed to Yehoshua and Samantha who recite the blessing.
Barukh ata Ado-n-ay Eloheynu Melekh ha’olam boreh peri hagafen.
Twice before we drank from this cup in times of joy, at our wedding, and upon welcoming our son, Gavriel Shmuel, into the covenant. We now drink again, celebrating the joy of another new life.
וְהָיָה כְּעֵץ שָׁתוּל עַל פַּלְגֵי מַיִם אֲשֶׁר פִּרְיוֹ יִתֵּן בְּעִתּוֹ וְעָלֵהוּ לֹא יִבּוֹל וְכָל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה יַצְלִיחַ
Vi’haya ki’eitz shatul al palgey mayim asher piryo yiten bi’ito v’alayhu lo yibol v’khol asher yaaseh yatzliakh.
Elana Shira, may you grow to be like the tree by the riverside with strong roots who bears fruits of blessings, whose strength never wanes. May you find success in all you do.
May you sing a new song to God, a song that is yours. May you sing your song with joy and faith. May you bring blessings to your parents, to your family, to the world with your beautiful song.
May the ShechinaThe feminine name of God, expounded upon in the rabbinic era and then by the Kabbalists in extensive literature on the feminine attributes of the divine., the Loving Presence of God, spread Her wings over you and protect you. May you know great joy and fulfillment in your life. May you walk with your people, Israel, in pride, and may you understand that to be a Jew is a source of joy and meaning, and an important responsibility.
May you go from strength to strength, yet always be able to accept your own weaknesses and those of others. May you judge yourself and others with compassion.
May your ears be filled with music of every imaginable kind, and may the rhythm be of your own making, Allow yourself to march at your own pace and dance to your own beat.
May you live in a world blessed with peace and harmony, and may your future be as bright and as hopeful as the world’s first rainbow.
And let us say Amen.
7. ברכת הטוב והמטיב – ha’Tov viha’Meitiv
Devorah: There are moments in life that warrant a special blessing. The birth of a child is certainly one of them. The MishnahThe first layer of Jewish oral law, written down in Palestine around 200 CE. The Mishna consists of six books or sedarim (orders), each of which contains seven to twelve tractates or masechtot (singular masechet). The books are Zeraim (Seeds), Moed (Festival), Nashim (Women), Nezikin (Damages), Kodashim (Holy Things), and Tehorot (Purities)., Berakhot 9:1 tells us that for good tidings we say הטוב והמטיב, blessing God who is good and causes good.
We now recite this blessing for the gift of a daughter.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַטּוֹב וְהַמֵיטִיב
Barukh ata Ado-n-ay Eloheynu Melekh ha’olam ha’tov v’ha’meytiv.
8. ברכת הורים – the parents’ blessing
Devorah: Ever since Abraham, IsaacAbraham 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 JacobLit. 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., parents have blessed their children. Perhaps this is one way, we as parents, let our children know how blessed we are by their presence in our life. As we mark the end of this ceremony welcoming Elana Shira into the Jewish community and as we look forward to sharing in all her semakhot, Samantha and Yehoshua bestow their blessings upon their daughter.
Yivarekhikha Ado-n-ay v’yishmirekha. Yaer Ado-n-ay panav eilekha vi’khuneka. Yisa Ado-n-ay panav eileikha vi’yasem likha shalom.