Lifecycle / Bris / Bris Readings

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

-Inspired by 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…

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, his 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, Bar/Bat 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.

First line: Dearest one, I wish you the strength to face challenges with confidence along with the wisdom to choose your battles carefully. Last line: I am so proud of you!…

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…

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…

We Are Thankful

-Sidney Greenberg

This is a beautiful reading for when you are with a group. Like, here’s an idea… read it at Thanksgiving dinner.

First line: We are thankful for our family and friends and what we mean and bring to one another. Last line: Above all, grant us the wisdom to build a joyous and peaceful home in which the awareness of Your presence will always abide…

As Your Eyes Are Filled With Wonder

-Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Written by our friend Debra Nussbaum Cohen, this is a sweet reading, perfect for a baby naming ceremony.

First line: As your eyes are filled with wonder when you gaze at the world, so, too, may you be filled with wonder at the everyday miracles of life. Last line: As your hand tightly grasps your mother’s finger, so may you grasp hold of learning and grow in knowledge and wisdom…

Holiness and Love

-Debra Nussbaum Cohen (adapted from the Midrash)

Wow. This is one of the sweetest readings about parenthood and will make you feel better about your parenting. Phew!

First line: How are we able to perform countless acts of love as we are commanded? Last line: And the world is made holier. And so are we…

Planting The Seeds Of Eternity

-A Talmud Story

Those of us worried about climate change may take very different meanings from this beautiful reading from the Talmud (an ancient Jewish text). But whether we are helping the earth or hurting it, it’s going to be generations after us that are going to be affected by our actions.

First line: One day a sage was walking along a road, and he saw a man planting a carob tree. Last line: The man replied: “I found grown carob trees in the world; as my forefathers planted those for me, I too plant these for my children…”

The Voice

-Shel Silverstein

Staying open to our own voices isn’t easy, what with Instagram always telling us what to do. But nurturing that voice within and being able to hear it helps us decide what is best for each of us.

First line: There is a voice inside of you that whispers all day long. Last line: Just listen to The voice that speaks inside…

Welcome to The World

-Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

It’s going to be years before the older ones can buy beer for their younger brother or sister, and they haven’t started fighting yet about borrowing/stealing each other’s clothes… so now is the time for this sweet blessing to be read out loud by the newborn’s siblings.

First line: Welcome to the world! Last line: Thank you, God, for a love that is big enough to include my brother and me…

With All My Heart

-Rabbi Maggie Wenig, adapted from the poem by Rabbi Judy Shanks

All good ideas packed into one short Mom’s reading giving thanks for the blessing of pregnancy and her baby. Obviously you can edit for gender change or anything else.

First line: With all my heart, with all my soul, with all my might. Last line: With all my heart, with all my soul, with all my might…

Blessing For A Son

-General Douglas MacArthur

Isn’t this crazy that General Douglas MacArthur wrote this for his son Arthur?

First line: We hope this child will be strong enough to know when she is weak, and brave enough to face herself when she is afraid. Last line: Learns compassion for those who fall and has the insight to know herself…

A Blessing For Our Newborn

-Author Unknown

The only thing we find slightly annoying about this ancient Jewish prayer is that it ends with the marriage canopy. Not that there is anything wrong with marriage, but it’s not for everyone and it seems like an odd culmination for the tiny baby. But when you think that procreation is a mitzvah, it’s more understandable.

First line: May the one who blessed our mothers, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel, and our fathers, Abraham, Issac and Jacob, bless these parents and their newborn daughter. Her name shall be (insert English or Hebrew name here). Last line: Let us say Amen…

Bris Short But Sweet

-Multiple Authors

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