Those families that have reunions almost all know the craziness that goes into planning one and the challenges of pleasing everyone, which you can’t possibly do anyway. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up with details like the menu, and activities, and location, and designing the special reunion T-shirt. While all of that might be important, especially when half the family is vegetarian, and the other half wants a meat chili night, it’s easy to forget the exquisitely beautiful fact that you are celebrating family. You’re also honoring those who are no longer with us but may have endured tremendous hardship so that their offspring could enjoy a better life. Take a few minutes to share a reading or two to help everyone connect to the meaning of the family gathering, even those little babies who are awfully cute but have no idea what family even is yet.

Aunt Lillian is organizing the topics for argument.

Family Reunion Prayers And Blessings

Mourner's Kaddish

-Author Unknown

First line: Although Jewish law requires that the Kaddish be said when a loved one dies and on the anniversary of their death, there is no reference, no word even, about death in the prayer. Last line: May God comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem…

Mi Shebeirach

-Author Unknown

The Mi Shebeirach is the most common and well-known Jewish blessing for healing. This blessing makes us cry, and not just sad-cry, especially when said in a group – it’s that powerful. It’s most commonly said at synagogue on Shabbat. Many rabbis have a poignant ritual of looking very slowly across the congregation, making eye contact with those of us in the pews, giving the chance for those of us in the pews to say out loud the name of someone who needs healing. This is also lovely because it is one of those rituals that’s a real community-maker. For example, if you say your sister’s name during Mi Shebeirach, then hopefully after services, someone will come over to you and inquire about what’s wrong, not because they are being nosy, but because they are concerned about you. One of the most beautiful aspects of community is knowing when someone amongst them is in pain so that they can help if they are able.

First line: Mi shebeirach avoteinu. Last line: The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit, and let us say, Amen…


See Both Family Reunion Prayers And Blessings

Other than a colonoscopy, everything is more fun in a group.

Family Reunion Readings

Human Family

-Maya Angelou

First line: I note the obvious differences in the human family. Last line: We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike…

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.”… 

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…”

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.”…

See All 9 Family Reunion Readings

Family Reunion Songs

What a Wonderful World

-Robert Thiele and George David Weiss

This popular song is always a crowd hit (especially for those of us born after 1960). It’s been re-recorded many times since then. A beautiful addition for your celebration.

First line: I see trees of green, red roses too. Last line: What a wonderful world…

See Family Reunion Song

Even cranky Uncle Mort will crack a smile.

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