This ceremony uses elements of Jewish and other traditions to share a sense of possibility and openness with a newly menstruant girl.

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A Different Kind of Tashlikh

Tashlikh… does not have to be understood as simply casting off those deadly parts of ourselves we want to be rid of, but rather as a turning around to see a life-giving aspect of those same parts. At this moment marking the transition between childhood and adulthood, I invited everyone in the circle to look into themselves at those aspects that were still childish and immature. Once we were able to identify those parts of ourselves, we might symbolically cast them upon the crumbs of challah into the brook so that the waters might turn them around and allow us to retain our wonder-full childlikeness in a more disciplined, mature fashion.


As we searched within ourselves and lined the banks of the brook, turning the child in ourselves from an out-of-control state into a fine-tuned one, we sang the song "Return Again" (from Shlomo Carlebach via David Zeller's album), which ends with the words "Return to where you are born and reborn again."

We regathered into our inner and outer circles, making a berakhah [blessing] over wine. That blessing, like the one for challah, was recited in traditional as well as feminized Hebrew and translated into "midrashic" [interpretive] English.

Berukha at Shekhinah, Makor ha'hayim, boreyt p'ri hagafen.

Blessed are You, Shechinah, Source/Sorceress of all life, who has made the fruits of the vine sweet to our taste, in the familiar color of our life-giving blood.

Then, in the fullness of the night, we recited two blessings that are normally part of the morning, not the evening, service:

Barukh ata YHWH eloheynu ruah ha-olam she-asani b'tzelem Elohim.

Blessed are You, Holy One of Being, Mother-and-Father of us all, who has made me in Your image, like Adam from the adamah (ground) upon creation, with the feminine and masculine sides still intertwined.

Berukha at YHWH eloheynu ruah ha-olam she-astani isha.

Blessed are You, Holy one of Being, Mother-and-Father of us all, who has created me predominantly and joyously female.

And then, as we invited Morissa to move from the inner circle where she stood with four other young girls, into our outer circle of women, we sang:

Barukh ata YHWH eloheynu ruah ha-olam shehecheyatnu v 'kly'matnu v'higi-atnu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are You, Holy One of Being, Parent of us all, Who has brought us with great joy to this moment of change in Morissa's life and in the lives of all of us joined in celebration.

In closing we sang again the words to the Zeller song that ends, "watch our circle grow."

As we come to love ourselves, including the wondrous workings of our bodies, the love flows naturally to our daughters and sons, our friends and lovers, our mothers and fathers, our community, and those whom we still consider strangers.

Keyn y 'hi ratzon!--May it be so!

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Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow

Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow directs the Shalom Center and is the author of numerous books, including Godwrestling, Godwrestling--Round 2, Seasons of Our Joy, The Bush is Burning, and These Holy Sparks.

Phyllis O. Berman

Phyllis Ocean Berman directed Elat Chayyim's Summer Program and is coauthor of Tales of Tikkun.