A Moving Ritual on Moving: Saying Shalom to That Family Home.

"I hope this is me in 40 years" Photo by J.B. Hill, via Flickr.com under Creative Commons License

It is the time in so many Boomers lives. That big house, in which we raised the children and celebrtaed so many moments; it has become too big! The time of transition is at hand. We are ready for that next chapter. In recent months, a handful of friends have put that house up for sale and/or moved. Exciting changes are at hand. New beginnings as well as letting go to all those memories. As I travel around and disucss with congregations the rise in rituals for new life stages and moments of transition, this act of moving from that family home has often come up. We move in and celebrate with a “mezuzah” hanging ceremony and often an open house. Yet, when after decades of life lived, it is time to move on, we often just pack up the car, wait till the moving van leaves, and quietly lock the door and drive away to the future. WHat a moment to pause and stop and give thanks for the live that was lived. Simple idea that has not been activated. Almost. One of our colleagues, Rabbi Michael Howald of New York, after a conversation aboiut this issue a while ago, developed such a small prayer. It is to be said as you stand at the front door and turn the key for the last time. It is simple, yet meaningful. Combined with a “sh’hechyanu” prayer, it transforms a simple moment of transition into a moment of meaning that recognizes the power of life and relationships that took place within the walls of the house that you made a home. The following is that prayer. Feel free to adapt, edit, add to it. If you are a member of a congregation’s Caring Community consider placing it, or a version of it, on your letterhead and making available to the members of your community.
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 Talmud they often linger and celebrate the fulfillment of their efforts in a lifetime filled with many chapters and
Like them, we linger and celebrate all that 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 or 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, Adonai our God, that just as You have always 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 this foundation.
“Keyn Yehi Ratzon”…be this God will.
“Sh’hech’yanu”: Blessed is God fo granting us life, for sustaining us, and for bringing us to this time.

Rabbi Richard F Address

About Rabbi Richard Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.

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