Bar Mitzvah Initiation Ritual


In honor of Bar Mitzvah of Yigdal Shalev Raphael, May 31, 2003
by Simcha and Rayzel Raphael

Welcome to the tribe, to the tribe (3x) for today you are a man.

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: Come gather, Come gather! All who are here be present for this rite of passage – in body, mind, heart, and spirit. Open your eyes, speak your truth! Welcome to this initiation.

Yigdal has presented an offering of leadership, showing dedication studying and preparing for many months. Our response to his offering shall impart to him the many faceted aspects of belonging to the Jewish people. We know in ancient days there were Twelve Tribes of ancient Israel, as our Torah story has revealed. Now, in our times, we welcome Yigdal into the subtle dimensions of a global-tribal community. We shall demonstrate to this young man the values our Jewish community upholds in this new millennium, values of heart and mind, spirit and soul. Yigdal come forward to receive our words and our blessings – Yigdal sits in chair.

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: Our ancestors knew the tribal elders were always the first to be honored and speak at tribal rituals. So we shall call upon anyone over seventy to summon up your blessings of wisdom for Yigdal.

FLAG BEARER(S) OF THE ELDERS: On behalf of the elders, we welcome you! – we open this circle of ritual initiation. We invite the Holy Spirit – Ruach HaKodesh – to be present in this room right now. Shalom and welcome.

ALL ELDERS SPEAK: Elders of all the tribes of the Jewish people, welcome Yigdal among us today. We bring our wisdom to this most holy celebration. We remember your ancestors, the immigrants who came from the old country to the new world. We have lived through world wars, the founding of the State of Israel. We have seen Jewish life change and shift with modernity, and know the importance of continuity in the midst of change. Today we hand you a legacy of tradition and our message is to honor the old ways. Respect your elders for they are wise and you are our hope for the future. We welcome you young man.

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: We now summon the tribe of children – anyone not yet having had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. You are the tribe Yigdal now leaves behind.

FLAG BEARER(S) OF THE CHILDREN: We are the tribe of children to which you have belonged. We have played with you, danced and laughed. We have been silly and had lots of fun. We are the innocence you leave behind and call all children to come forward.

ALL CHILDREN SPEAK: We are the Telly Tubbies, the Power Rangers, the Beanie Babies, the action figures. We hear dinosaurs roar, see the cow jump over the moon, and fly with Peter Pan. We love to jump on the bed and snuggle with our parents. We still can’t vote or count in a minyan, yet. But we keep the world young! As you leave us – keep laughter and joy in your heart and don’t ever get too cool to play with the kid inside of you. Go to the world of adults and remember you have us with you always.

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: We now summon the women of the tribe, nurturers of the young.

FLAG BEARER(S) OF THE WOMEN: On behalf of the women, we welcome you. We are the mothers who have held you, bandaged you, sung to you, watch you grow. Now, we release you to enter the world in your power and a gentle spirit.

ALL WOMEN SPEAK: We are the feminists who have carved careers while nursing children. As we worked for transformation, we have seen the world change. We remember when women couldn’t sing publicly or participate in our tradition, just as it is still so for Women of the Wall in Israel. We invite you into our tribe – the tribe that gives women voice and power, where men are not afraid of their equals, where women’s rights, opinions and bodies are respected. We welcome you and remind you that you have responsibility to walk beside us as a respectful ally – or else! Now go into the world. But remember to be good to your mother, sister and girlfriends. We will be watching. We welcome you into our world as an equal.

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: We summon the men – pillars of the tribe- warriors and peacemakers, role model for boys. Pass on your guidance to this young man.

FLAG BEARER(S) OF THE MEN: On behalf of my brothers, we welcome you into our tribe
to teach you ways of walking the earth with responsibility, integrity and an open heart.

ALL MEN SPEAK: You are now a brother among us, a mensch among men. We who have been bearers of this tradition – leaders of the world, charge you to make your way in the world. Today, we invite you into our sacred circle and promise to mentor you to be brave and strong. We know the ways men are changing as we learn to listen more deeply to our sisters, and use our power more wisely. We care for children like no other generation of men has ever done, and we share ourselves more readily and walk more gently. We have been counted for centuries – now we now count you among us and welcome you to shape a new generation. Ho and Shalom!

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: We now call all Teenagers, past Bar and Bat Mitzvah, those on the journey to adulthood, learning to accept responsibility in a changing world.

FLAG BEARER(S) OF THE TEENAGE TRIBE: We are the teenagers, so glad we already did all that Bar/Bat mitzvahs stuff. Now we are finding our way in the world, and actually its quite cool!

ALL TEENS SPEAK: We are old enough for PG-13 movies, and have begun or will soon learn to drive a car. Our bodies are changing and so are our minds. Our parents get weirder and more embarrassing day by day . We know which movies and clothes are awesome, and we know the lyrics to rap music. We sleep late and get grouchy if we don’t get our space. Okay, we may be moody sometimes, but we are learning about love and heartbreak, and we know we know much more than our parents. We are the voice of the future of the tribe. Welcome to our roller coaster world.

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: We now call the ritualists and celebrants – those of you who make ritual for others and commemorate the cycles of Jewish life. Bring forth your wisdom for this young man that he may come to know the sacred in his heart and soul.

FLAG BEARER(S) OF THE TRIBE OF ritualists and celebrants: As those who celebrate changing cycles of the season, we welcome you. As the New Moon approaches, you begin a new chapter of your life. May it be a life flowing with sacred celebration.

ALL RITUALISTS AND CELEBRANTS: We atone during the High Holy Days and honor the miracles at the darkness of Hanukah. We hold harvest festivals and don our masks – laughing on the Full Moon of Adar. We relish springtime rites and the Passover liberation story of our people. Each week we empty out, to be filled with healing energies of Shabbat. May you be blessed to sing and dance your way around the wheel of the year. Welcome to our tribe – rejoice! Celebrate the richness of Jewish life in its seasons!

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: We now summon the stewards of the earth, those who care about the planet – gardeners and environmentalists with much to teach this young initiate.

FLAG BEARER(S) OF THE TRIBE OF STEWARDS: On behalf of all stewards of the earth, we welcome you. We are here to teach you to live in harmony with our Mother, the earth.

ALL STEWARDS SPEAK: We are concerned about global warming, dependency on oil, and the logging of old growth forest. The earth is ailing and you are needed to help the survival and growth of our world. We shall teach you to recycle, compost and plant trees; to protect the habitat of wildlife, endangered species; and above all, to honor Mother Earth and her cycles. Tread softly on the earth. Play your part. We welcome you to this tribe – help us protect the planet for future generations.

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: Now we summon the philanthropists, those who hold the value of giving tzedakah, offering service through money or the offering of self. Speak those of you who hold know the importance of this holy act.

FLAG BEARER(S) OF TRIBE OF PHILANTHROPISTS: On behalf of those who serve others through acts of loving kindness, Gemillut Hasadim, we welcome you. We have learned to share our resources with others so that we may build a better world. And we invite you to join our ranks, we invite to offer your life to helping others.

ALL PHILANTHROPISTS SPEAK: Our ancestors did not glean the corners of the field, which were left for the widow, the orphan and the hungry among us. Today, we choose to give to Jewish causes to maintain strong community and identity, giving to the world where needed. We know it is better to give than to receive and anonymous giving is of highest value. Money only creates the illusion of happiness but is temporal. It is good for the soul to open our hearts and checkbooks to the needs of the world. You will learn that money holds power and power must be used for the good, to sustain life and comfort those in need. We welcome you to our tribe and we will mentor you to use your Bar Mitzvah money wisely and to give with compassion. Welcome to our circle.

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBE: We now call the tribe of social activists – those who use their actions to help the world, those who answer the call to heal the world

FLAG BEARER(S) OF THE TRIBE OF SOCIAL ACTIVISTS: On behalf of the social activists, we welcome and call you into a life of service, that others may benefit from your caring heart and helping hands.

ALL SOCIAL ACTIVISTS SPEAK: As social justice advocates, we believe that men and women are created equal, that skin color doesn’t matter, that love comes in all colors, size and gender preference. We believe that we will find a way for our Israeli and Palestinian brothers and sisters to share a land in peace. We are not afraid to take a stand for our beliefs in causes that must be righted. Judaism teaches us to redeem divine sparks through tikkun olam – healing of the world. It is not our job to complete the task but we must not desist from beginning the work. Needs of a changing the world may take us away from pleasures, from families. Yet the sacrifice is worth it. You have done a great job with your Magen David Adom service project, and reading to young children. We will work with you to help do your part to build a better world, where people live in peace and harmony. Join us!

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: We now call the spiritual seekers, those thirst to know God in all forms and by all names.

FLAG BEARER(S) OF THE TRIBE OF Spiritual seekers: On behalf of all spiritual seekers, we invite you to enter the journey. Tradition speaks of “the G!d of Abraham, the G!d of Isaac, the G!d of Jacob” because each one had their own relationship with G!d. Now, you too Yigdal, must learn to hear the voice of your own G!d. The journey begins! Welcome!

ALL SPIRITUAL SEEKERS SPEAK: As seekers we yearn to know G!d by exploring many paths and ways. We wrestle with G!d seeking to find meaning in the face of suffering and evil. We dance with joy in the arms of the beloved, see G!d in all life. We open our hearts in prayer and gratitude, through liturgy and the legacy of tradition. We study ancient texts to find value and guidance for our life, learning to live consciously, aware of each passing moment. The journey of a lifetime begins with one breath. We welcome you to the tribe of seekers. Your G!d connection beckons you!

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: We call all artists and musicians, those who bring beauty into the world, in acts of creation, and those who lift our spirits through music and song.

FLAG BEARER(S) OF THE TRIBES OF Artists and musicians: On behalf of all artists and musicians who know that there are many artistic ways to bring through the creative spirit, to manifest the divine into the world, we welcome you.

ALL ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS SPEAK: As artists and musicians we invite you to journey with us through rhythm and drum, instrument and voice, paint and clay, crayons and glue as we bring the patterns of G!d into world. Just as Bezalel decorated the Mishkan, and the women wove the tapestries of the Tabernacle, we also decorate space for G!d to dwell. Our work is an expression of the deep recesses of the psyche wherein eternity can be found. We welcome you to our midst, young artist, and invite you to unleash your creative spirit.

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: We now forth the sages and scholars, teachers who stimulate our minds through ideas, words, erudition and scholarship.

FLAG BEARER(S) OF THE TRIBE OF sages and scholars: Representing academics, scholars, teachers, those who use pursuit of study as ways to transform the world, we welcome you to the tribe. We shall teach you to use your mind that you may walk in the footsteps of the rabbis of old, learning Torah in its many forms and manifestations.

ALL SAGES AND SCHOLARS SPEAK: We love books and hold learning as a path to truth and enlightenment. Engaging the mind in new ideas, fresh perspectives of seeing the world, we look at the universe trying to understand its mysteries. We delight in unlocking the enigmas of life, trying to reconstruct the venerable world of our ancestors, seeking the truth of God’s word and revelation. Pondering, contemplating, examining, researching, analyzing, scrutinizing and considering words, texts ancient and modern are ways of nourishing the soul. Sharing ideas is the gift we share with others. We welcome you to come study with us. We bless you to find good teachers in your life.

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: We now summon the athletes and healers, those who dedicate themselves to the well being of the body.

FLAG BEARER(S) OF THE TRIBE Athletes and healers: On behalf of the athletes and healers, we welcome you to grow strong and mighty, to utilize your G!d-given resources of physical being in the best ways you know how.

ALL ATHLETES AND HEALERS SPEAK: We are the tribes of athletes and healers, dedicated in many different ways to the joy and holiness of the body. As healers committed to the health of mind and body, we follow in the footsteps of Maimonides and the midwives of old. As athletes we believe in fair play and like a good game no matter what sport. We know winning isn’t every everything, even if sometimes it feels like it. As healers, we know that the body, as temple of the soul, must be nourished with healthy food, proper amounts of rest, and exercise. As athletes we encourage movement and skills, good sportsmanship and fun. We welcome you to play with us and learn team sports and keep your body in tune.

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: We have heard voices of young and old, voices of various tribal groupings, representing the values our tradition holds dear. Now we ask others to offer a word or a phrase of blessing to this young man. First, we call upon all of Yigdal’s extended families, the northern and southern tribal groupings:

BLESSINGS OF THE EXTENDED FAMILY: We are your family, for better or worse, bound through time and space. Know that the blood that runs in our veins, also runs in yours, we share a common ancestral heritage. We may not see you often, but our love and loyalty runs deep. You can call on us in times of trouble and seek shelter among us if need be. Know that we are there for you. We bless you with:

call out a word or phrase of blessing…

Blessings of FRIENDS: Yigdal we have watched you grow. We have seen your parents, joys and pain, struggle and nachas. We have been family when yours have been far away. We love you as our own child. we bless you with:

call out a word or phrase of blessing…

SUMMONER OF THE TRIBES: Yigdal, Seeing you here on this day, our cup is full of blessings. We now call upon you to acknowledge that you have heard our welcome and accept our blessings. Set your seal upon that has transpired here today with the sound of drum. May you always find your rhythm in the heartbeat of the tribe.