A ritual for leaving the family home

For many of us, when we move into a new home, we affix a mezuzah with a small ceremony. We welcome the creation of a Jewish home.

Rabbi Michael Howald
Rabbi Michael Howald

Yet, when it comes time to move from that home (sometimes after decades of life), we often just lock that door and get in the car and follow the van to our next destination. As part of the our Sacred Aging program, we asked students to think about creating a  small ritual that could be observed as you leave that long time residence; the place that may have seen years of life.

Rabbi Michael Howald, who became rabbi at Temple Israel in Randall Manor, Staten Island, NY in July 2010, created this small reading as part of his work for the Sacred Aging program. Feel free to adapt this to your experience.

Today, we close one chapter of our lives and begin another.

Every life of accomplishment contains many such passages

And our tradition marks these transitions with ritual and prayer.

When students complete a book of the Talmud

They often linger and celebrate the fulfillment of their efforts

In a lifetime filled with many chapters and completions.

Like them, we linger and celebrate all we received in this house

As we close one chapter of our lives and begin another.

We remember with gratitude the many blessings

We enjoyed under the shelter of this roof.

In this home, we built a haven from the outside world

Its walls protected us from the elements

Its light drove away the darkness that crouched at night

Its warmth nurtured our love and gave us proof against the cold.

We remember with gratitude these many blessings.

We celebrate with joy the family we built upon this foundation.

Into this home, we poured our dreams and efforts

We shared our love and filled these rooms with youthful laughter

And an argument of two along the way.

We saw our children’s feet slowly gain  their footing

As they learned, all too quickly, to call another place their home.

Across these floors we walked and ran and danced in equal measure

We celebrate with joy the family we built upon this foundation.

We honor with affection all those who crossed this threshold with us

From the time we first turned the key in the lock until today

Through these doors we brought our children

And welcomed our friends and family.

With those who crossed this doorway

We celebrated our triumphs and joys and shared our sorrows and fears.

With them, we marked the holidays and the milestones of our lives

They helped make this house our home.

We honor with affection all those who crossed this threshold with us.

Today we close one chapter of our lives and begin another.

May it be your will, Adoni our God, that just as You have helped us

Complete the chapter inscribed in walls, foundation and gates of this home

That You will help us to begin a new chapter in a new home.

When Jacob journeyed from Gilead, the angels of God encountered him.

When he saw them, Jacob said: “This is God’s camp”.

By leaving one home and making another we know we do not leave God.

As we begin a new chapter of our lives,

We pray that our new home will provide us with all the fulfillment

We enjoyed under the shelter of this roof and upon its foundation.

Cain y’hi Ratzon….be this God’s will

(All say)

Baruch ata Adoni Eloheinu

Melech Ha’Olom, Sh’hechyanu, v’kiy’manu

v’higiyanu lazman ha’zeh

Blessed are you, Eternal our God, sovereign of

the universe, for granting us life, for sustaining us, and for bringing us to

this time.

Amen

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