Lifecycle / Bar and Bat Mitzvah / Bar and Bat Mitzvah Readings

Blessing For Anyone Who Isn't Jewish ('Cause We Know This Is A Lot)

-Adapted from Rabbi Janet Marder

So here is the thing, half of the Jewish families that we know are headed by a couple where one of them is not Jewish. And we think eureka! That is great! Why isn’t there a blessing for that person who is not Jewish but participating in a Jewish home/life! And… there is! And we love it and hope you do too!

First line: May everyone who shares in a Jewish life feel welcome and integrated. Last line: With all our hearts, we want to thank you for your love and willingness in giving the ultimate gift to the Jewish people. Amen…

A Blessing For The Intermarried

-Rabbi Daniel Zemel

David Gregory from CNN, NBC, MSNBC, etc. wrote a book called How’s Your Faith? where he writes about finding his. Gregory’s wife, Beth, is not Jewish, but they are raising their kids as Jews. Anyway, the point of all this is that this relevant blessing is in his book and you are gonna love it!

First line: Many of you have made the historic and unprecedented decision to raise Jewish children. Last line: Your presence here makes us stronger and wiser…

A Blessing For Friends!

-A JewBelong Original

So much of Jewish practice revolves around having a strong, loving community. So, we decided we needed to have a blessing for our friends and community. If you think the part asking people to hold hands won’t fly with your group, just edit out the second line. But you should push yourself to leave it in. People love that stuff. First line: Here with you our friends, we feel so greatly blessed. Last line: May we always remember the exquisite value of friendship and community and be good friends in return. Amen…

From Our Foremothers

-Author Unknown

Our Jewish foremothers are each known for their unique strengths – Eve’s fortitude, Rachel’s compassion and Deborah’s self-esteem – to name a few. This reading calls on each Jewish daughter to look to her foremothers for inspiration and wisdom.

First line: We hope that this child draws inspiration from the examples of her foremothers. Last line: And from Ya’el the courage to do what she knows she must do…

Our Hope For You

-Shelley Niceley Groff

While putting this reading into JewBelong, I was like, “Hey, I know Shelley!” I just never knew this attorney with three sons from Florida was also a poet! Thanks, Shelley for sharing the words that so many of us moms feel!

First line: As you travel along the path that will be your life, may you walk on firm ground, with the wind at your back and the sun shining gently on your face. Last line: May you live a long, healthy, happy, and peaceful life, any may you be the change you want to see in the world…

Listen To The Mustn’ts

-Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein is the guy who wrote The Giving Tree and other perfection. This is one of his beauties for sure.

First line: Listen to the mustn’ts, child, listen to the don’ts. Last line: Anything can happen child, anything can be… 

It Couldn't Be Done

-Edgar A. Guest

Edgar A. Guest is one of America’s most prolific poets. His relatable poem first published in 1919 is adorable and motivating. We got inspired when getting this JewBelong website together. I mean, whoever would think they can rebrand Judaism anyway?

First line: Somebody said that it couldn’t be done, but he with a chuckle replied that “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one who wouldn’t say so till he tried. Last line: Just take off your coat and go to it. Just start to sing as you tackle the thing that “cannot be done” and you’ll do it…

Standing On The Shoulders

-Doug Cotler

In this insane world that changes so quickly, it is grounding to remember where, and more importantly, who we came from. This notion of remembering Judaism’s foundations and meaningful traditions are the driving forces behind JewBelong.

First line: In the garden there’s a tree planted by someone who only imagined me. Last line: I’m standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before me…

Teaching Your Children About God

-Rabbi David J. Wolpe

Might be our favorite reading. Not kidding. First line: There was once a man who stood before God, her heart breaking from the pain and injustice in the world. Last line: God responded, “I did, I sent you.”…

We Choose Our Own Way

-Moses Maimonides

Yes, this is by the Maimonides. He died in 1204 and was one of the greatest Jewish scholars of all time. He’s also known for this quote, “You should listen to the truth, whoever may have said it.” Good, right?

First line: Do not imagine that character is determined at birth. Last line: We, ourselves, by our own volition, choose our own way…

What I Wish For My Child, I Wish For All Our Children

-Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

Hard to argue with Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso’s wishes of love, meaning and wisdom from a parent to a child.

First line: I wish for you to be a person of character. Last line: May the stories of our people be upon your heart and grace of the Torah rhythm and dance in your soul…

May You Always Feel Loved

-Sandra Sturtz Hauss

Poet Sandra Sturtz Hauss captures what so many of us parents wish for our children. Yes, even when our children are acting awful, and they all do, (because why should they be any different than us)… we still want them to feel love.

First line: May a kind word, reassuring touch, and a warm smile be yours every day of your life, and may you give these gifts as well as receive them. Last line: May you always feel loved… 

The Story Of The Guarantors

-Author Unknown

This reading is often recited at baby namings, B mitzvahs, etc because it points out the future of everything, even Judaism, lies in the next generation.

First line: When Israel stood to receive the Torah, God said to them: “I am giving you my Torah. Give to me good guarantors that will guard it, and I shall give it to you.” Last line: God said: “They are certainly good guarantors. For the sake of your children, I give you the Torah.”… 

On Children

-Kahlil Gibran

Hate to be the one to have to tell you this… so thank goodness Kahlil Gibran did it. You can’t control your kids. You can love them and teach them, but that’s ’bout it.

First line: Your Children are not your children. Last line: For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday…

I Wish You The Strength To Face Challenges

-Patsy Gaut

We used this reading at our own simchas (Hebrew for celebrations) and we know you’ll love it, too. It’s short, and beautiful.

May The Road Rise To Meet You

-Author Unknown

This is a lovely wish for children, for anyone really. It’s also a song. Originally written in Gaelic, this reading is said to represent the ancient Irish’s deep connection to nature and God.

First line: May the road rise to meet you. Last line: May true be the hearts that love you…

I Thank You For This Wondrous Gift Of Life

-Rami M. Shapiro

Okay, maybe this beauty should be required reading for every parent. Once a week. At the very least, once a year at the child’s birthday.

First line: I thank you for this wondrous gift of life. Last line: Blessed is the way of life that makes parent rejoice with child…

Tzedakah

-Philip Bernstein

If there is one area that identifies and unites Jews, no matter what their personal beliefs and practices, it is tzedakah (Hebrew for justice but commonly understood as meaning charity). JewBelong would like to take this moment to remind you that if you do define tzedakah as charity, it is great to give to the world, but it is really nice, and needed, to give to Jewish causes too.

First line: If there is one area that identifies and unites Jews, no matter what their personal beliefs and practices, it is Tzedakah. Last line: It is Judaism in action, and Judaism is inherently and deeply a religion of action, a way of life, a way of living…

Our Deepest Fear

-Marianne Williamson

With good reason this reading is used in plenty of pop culture venues… our most favorite as a reoccurring theme in the movie, Akeelah and the Bee. Read it a few times to feel its full strength. First line: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Last line: As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others…

Start Changing The World

-Anne Frank

Okay, being that we get furious when UBER says it’s still 2 minutes away, it’s sobering to remember that Anne Frank wrote this while she was hiding from Nazis.

First line: How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment, we can start now, start slowly changing the world! Last line: And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness…

Letters To A Young Poet

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke published his first collection of poems in 1898. He was known for his sensitivity and openness, and often received letters from young people in need of connection or hope. The advice to be patient with ourselves and to live our lives in the moment is still entirely relevant today.

First line: Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Last line: Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer…

Bird By Bird

-Anne Lamott

OMG…love this totally relatable reading about taking one step at a time. And if you are so inclined, follow Anne Lamott on Instagram too. She’s a funny one.

First line: Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had 3 months to write. Last line: Just take it bird by bird.”…

Unconditional Love

-Rabbi Joshua Loth Liebman

The kids that really flourish are often the ones who have been given real unconditional love by their parents. Beautiful lesson, beautiful reading. First line: Give your children unconditional love, a love that is not dependent on report cards, clean hands, or popularity. Last line: Out of these laws will be built the Declaration of Independence that, in turn, will make the world free, democratic, safe, creative…

They Are Children No Longer

-Sidney Greenberg

We ask ourselves, have we truly prepared them for this? Have we done enough, taught them enough? We are almost afraid to let them go. Yet it was for this that we raised them, that they might grow up to take their places in the world. It’s a cliche for a reason – kids really do grow up too damn fast. Have we done enough to prepare them? Maybe asking that question is part of preparing them. Share this reading if you’re ready.

First line: The days come and go. Last line: Yet it was for this that we raised them, that they might grow up to take their places in the world…

Prayer On The Occasion Of A B Mitzvah

-Author Unknown

This is one of those ancient blessings that stills feel powerful hundreds of years later.

First line: May the One who blessed our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, bless our child who has come forward this day to the reading of the Torah in recognition of their desire to live a worthy Jewish life. Last line: Boundless are you, Eternal One our God, Source of all life, who has kept us alive, sustained us and allowed us to reach this occasion…

Letter From Paula Rachlin Gottesman To Ritual Committee Of Temple, Shomrei Emunah (1974)

-Paula Rachlin Gottesman

First line: Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Ritual Committee:
In June 1975 my daughter Sally will celebrate her thirteenth birthday and expects that she will be a Bat Mitzvah. Last line: Admittedly, calling girls to the Torah will not change everything, but it will certainly help to show that our religion is living, adaptable and subject to modification where the basic moral laws are not jeopardized…

I Want To Apologize (#METOO)

-Rupi Kaur

#METOO! Love this reading.

First line: I want to apologize to all the women I have called pretty before I’ve called them intelligent or brave. Last line: Not because I don’t think you’re pretty but because you are so much more than that…

B Mitzvah Short But Sweet

-Multiple Authors

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