After the Termination of a Pregnancy

Through prayer and ritual during the month after the termination, the parents work through lingering feelings of guilt and sorrow.

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The first part of this article details a ritual for the termination of a pregnancy, while this article describes additional rituals that extend through the month following the termination. The timing of these rituals echoes the first 30 days of mourning following the death of a close relative. Reprinted by permission of the author from Taking Up the Timbrel: The Challenge of Creating Ritual for Jewish Women Today (SCM Press).

A Candle Is Lit Each Evening for Seven Days After the Termination and Verses Are Recited

"For you will light my candle, the Eternal my God will lighten my darkness."

"Go in peace, and God be with you."

"Be of good courage and let your heart be strong, all you who hope in the Lord."

On the evening of the seventh day, there should be a meal with close family and friends, after which the mother could pray the traditional prayer of the person who has recovered from illness [bentshing gomel].

Or: "I thank You, Lord my God and God of my ancestors, God of the spirits of all flesh. You were with me in the time of my affliction, and You helped me.

In time of trouble You showed me the path of life, and the fullness of joy.

You showed me the sweetness which is at your right hand forever."

Barukh attah Adonai, eloheinu melekh ha-olam, ha-gomel l'hayyavim tovot, she-g'malani kol tov.

Blessed are you Lord our God, sovereign of the universe, who shows favor to the undeserving, and has shown me great favor.

All respond:

"Mi she-g'malakh kol tov, hu yig'm'leikh kol tov.

May God who has shown favor to you, continue to favor you with all that is good."

The following paragraph from the Amidah [central "standing" prayer said at all Jewish prayer services] may be recited:

"Heal us and we shall be healed; save us and we shall be saved, for it is You we praise. Send relief and healing for all our illnesses, our sufferings and our wounds. For you are a merciful and faithful healer."

Barukh attah Adonai rofei ha-cholim.

Blessed are You God, who heals the sick.

A Prayer to be Said 30 Days After the Termination

O Eternal my God, I cried to you and you have healed me.

You have brought my soul from Sheol;

You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

Give thanks to God's holy name, for his anger lasts but a moment;

His favor is for a lifetime;

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

My child, my pursuer, is no more.

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Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild

Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild is a rabbi at Wimbledon & District Synagogue in London, England.