Appendix E: Israeli Culture

Appendix E: Israeli Culture

1. Baby Naming/ Brit Milah/ Becoming Parents

Artistic Piece:


Test/ Achinoam Nini (words by Leah Goldberg) ניסיון

אחינועם ניני 

I swore to you, oh Lord
But unsure of my ploy…
How can I bear the burden
Of a perfect joy?Can my eyes contain the light?
I’m delirious and weak
How to keep from shattering
The happiness that all men seek?How can I keep my feet on board
‘neath a weight as great as this?
I want to stand up tall, oh Lord
And bear the yolk of perfect bliss
לך נשבעתי, אלעליון
ולא אדע האקיים
איך אעמוד בניסיון
ניסיון האושר השלםאיכה תכיל עיני האור
ידי רפות, ידי הוזות
איכה אשא ולא אשבור
שמחה כזאת, ברכה כזאתמכובד עול איך לא אפול
איך לפניך אתייצב
זקופה גדולה נושאת בעול
של אושר אנושי שלם

Leah Goldberg (1911-1970) was born in Konigsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia), and started writing Hebrew verse as a schoolgirl in Kovno. She received a Ph.D in semitic languages from Bonn University, and immigrated to pre-state Israel in 1935. Goldberg was a renowned poet -a member of the Shlonsky group – as well as a successful children-s author, theater critic, translator, and editor. In 1952, she established the Department of Comparative Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and remained its chairperson until her death. Goldberg published nine books of poetry, two novels, three plays, six books of non-fiction, and 20 books for children. Goldberg was awarded many prizes, including the Israel Prize for Literature in 1970.

Known in Israel by her given name Achinoam Nini, Noa is Israel’s leading international concert and recording artist. Born in Tel- Aviv in 1969, Noa lived in NYC from age 2 until her return to Israel alone at the age of 17. Her family is originally from Yemen. After serving the mandatory two years in the Israeli Army in a military entertainment unit, Noa studied music at the Rimon School where she met her long-time partner and collaborator Gil Dor.

Noa’s strongest influences come from the singer-songwriters of the 60s, like Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. These musical and lyrical sensibilities, combined with Noa’s Yemenite roots and Gil Dor’s strong background in Jazz, Classical and Rock, have created Noa and Gil’s unique sound, manifested in hundredsof songs written and performed together. Noa plays percussion, guitar and piano.

When to Use: Educational session prior to ceremony, and then as a poem at the ceremony.

 Questions for Reflection:

  • How do the contradictions about parenting mentioned here (burden/joy, yolk/bliss) resonate with your feelings about being parents?


 Artistic Piece


Shir L’Shira/ Corinne AllalLyrics: Yonatan Gefen שיר לשירה

קורין אלאלמילים: יהונתן גפן  /  לחן: קורין אלאל

Speak now my child, I am listeningThe whole world is listening to your gurglings.Speak, my angel, I knowNot everyone will listen to your voice.Let your naked lips speak, let your eyesWhile the milk still drips from your lips.Hug all of your fears with your two hands

Hug all of the big teddy bears in your sleep


A big good world I will give to you

Already with a (blue) glance you will discover

How important it is to see half the moon


Be small and nothing will harm you.

A butterfly clip tied in your hair.

Be small and nothing will escape from you.

I will be the big one also for you.

דברי עכשיו ילדה אני שומעת,
כל העולם מקשיב למלמולך.
דברי, מלאך שלי, אני יודעת
שלא תמיד הקשיבו לקולך.דברו שפתיים יחפות, דברו עיניים,
כל עוד חלב נוטף מחיוכך.
חבקי את כל פחדי בשתי ידייך,
חבקי דובים גדולים מתוך שנתך.עולם חדש וטוב אני אתן לך.
כבר במבט כחול את מגלה,
כמה חשוב לראות פתאום חצי ירח
קורץ צהוב צהוב מתוך האפילה.תהיי קטנה מאומה לא יפגע בך.
סיכת פרפר קשורה בשערך.
תהיי קטנה מאומה לא יברח לך.
אני אהיה גדולה גם בשבילך.דברו שפתיים יחפות דברו עיניים… 











Corinne Allal (also spelled Korin Allal) was born 1955 in Tunisia.  She is a popular rock singer and song-writer in Israel.

Yehonatan Geffen was born on February 22, 1947, in moshav Nahalal. He is the father of Aviv Geffen and Shira Geffen and Natasha Geffen, as well as being Moshe Dayan‘s nephew. He has two grandsons.  Much of Gefen’s success came from his works for children, like the song “HaYalda Hachi Yafa BaGan” (“The Prettiest Girl in Kindergarten”) and the book “HaKeves HaShisha Asar” (the 16th sheep), but he has also written many popular songs, poems, plays and stories for adults. 

When to use: Educational session prior to ceremony, and then as a poem at the ceremony.

Questions for Reflection:

  • How do the feelings of protection and optimism animate your feelings of being a parent?


Artistic Piece:


“En Zeh Mishene” (It Doesn’t Matter) / Habanot Nechama אין זה משנה

הבנות נחמה

מילים ולחן: קרולינה

In the name of GodThe God of IsraelOn my right side MichaelOn my left GavrielIn front of me UrielIn back of me RefaelAnd above of my head,And above of my head,And above my head,

The Shekhinah


It doesn’t matter

While we ourselves are in love

While still

It doesn’t matter


בשם השם אלוהי ישראל
מימיני מיכאל
משמאלי גבריאל
מלפני אוריאל
מאחורי רפאל
ומעל ראשי שכינת אלאין זה משנה
כל עוד עצמינו נאהב
כל עוד
אין זה משנה


Habanot Nechama (Hebrew: הבנות נחמה; The Comfort Girls) is an Israeli folk band. The group is composed of three female vocalists: Karolina, Dana Adini, and Yael Deckelbaum.

They are best known for their self-titled, debut album which went platinum (over 40,000 records sold) in Israel, and their hit song So Far.  Habanot Nechama was formed in 2004 in Tel Aviv, Israel. They met each other in a local clothing store where they vented their frustrations with their careers and they decided to form the band shortly thereafter. Karolina named the band Habanot Nechama (translated in English as “The Comfort Girls”) for the peace of mind that working with each other gives them.

When to use: When teaching parents about new rituals they can use at their ceremony and then continue in their home life

Question for Reflection:

  • This song begins with the biblical verse and part of the bedtime sh’ma traditionally sung to children before they go to sleep, “b’shem Hashem”, to what extent is the idea of God protecting your child before they go to sleep with the four angels a comforting image?
  • Some of the angels represent strength (Gavriel), light (Uriel), healing (Refael).  What are other qualities you would like surrounding your child as s/he sleeps?


2. Bar/Bat Mitzvah/ Coming of Age

Artistic Piece:


A Matter of Time/ Gidi Gov עניין של זמן

גידי גובמילים: אהוד מנור / לחן: רמי קלינשטיין

You will still discover the world
Whether you want to or not
There is still time to change
From one extreme to the other.
Take your time slowly
The world will still be waiting outside
Take another aspiration for the time being
Two minutes before facing reality.Be devoted to the heart that is going wild
To the bursting imagination
And to the happiness that is touching
The depths of the pain.You will still discover the world
Whether you want to or not
There is still time to change
From one extreme to the other.If love hurt you yesterday
Maybe tomorrow it will not hurt you
If the tears flow with no voice
Maybe at the end you will have a wide grin.Be devoted to the heart that is going wild
To the bursting imagination
And to the happiness that is touching
The depths of the pain.You will still discover the world
Whether you want to or not
There is still time to change
From one extreme to the other.
קח אותו לאט את הזמן
העולם עוד יחכה בחוץ
קח עוד שאיפה מן הזמן
שתי דקות לפני ההתפכחות.להתמכר ללב המתפרע
לדמיון המתפקע
לאושר הנוגע
בעומק הכאב.אתה עוד תגלה את העולם
אם תרצה או לא תרצה
יש עוד זמן להשתנות
מן הקצה אל הקצה.אם האהבה כאבה לך אתמול
אולי מחר היא לא תכאב
אם עוד הדמעות זולגות בלי קול
בסופן אולי חיוך רחב.להתמכר ללב המתפרע…


 When to use: Woven into the Hebrew School curriculum for the Bnai Mitzvah class, and then played at the BM reception (can turn into the “anthem” for the BM class.)  Also can be used as a part of the rabbis’ meeting with the Bnai mitzvah family.

Questions for Reflection:

  • For the BM – to what extent does this BM represent an opportunity to “discover the world” by discovering Jewish life?
  • For the parents – how do the dynamics in this song reflect dynamics your teenager is experiencing?


 Artistic Piece: Yigal Allon, Native Son: A Biography, by Anita Shapira

“When Yigal Allon, born Paicovich, reached bar mitzvah age, he, like all the boys at Kefar Tavoc/Mes’ha, was called up to the Torah.  Yet the ritual merited no mention in his memoirs.  Instead, he recorded the test of courage his father put him to that day.  Yosef Reuven Paicovich – known by all as Reuven – summoned the boy to the silo and said, “By putting on phylacteries you still do not satisfy all the main commandments; today, you are a man and, from now on, you will have your own weapon.”’  With these words, he handed the boy a semi-automatic Browning… Allon could not contain his excitement.”

Anita Shapira. Yigal Allon, Native Son: A Biography. University of Pennsylvania Press, PA: 2008.

 When to Use: When questions about Bnai Mitzvah gifts are dominating the Bnai Mitzvah prep.

Questions for Reflection:

  • What does this bar-mitzvah gift for Yigal Allon, who went on to become an Israeli politician and general in the IDF and later served as the acting Prime Minister of Israel, represent?  Why was he so excited?  How did this gift fit within the historical context of the time?
  • (For the Bnai Mitzvah) If Yigal’s gift represented fighting to defend Israel, what is something that you would like to fight to for in this world?  What is important for you to protect?
  • What do gifts in general represent? Do they fulfill needs or are they aspirational?
  • What do the gifts given by the synagogue reflect something aspirational for the bnai mitzvah child?
  • What’s kind of gift could the synagogue give to the bnai mitzvah child which would be aspirational regarding their relationship to Israel?


Artistic Piece: Uf Gozal/ Arik Einstein



Fly Away Young Birds עוף גוזל

אריק איינשטיין

מילים: אריק איינשטיין /

לחן: מיקי גבריאלוב

My chicks left the nest
spread their wings and flew away
I am an old bird left in the nest
I hope that all will be well
I always knew the day will come
to say good bye
But now when it is here
no wonder I am worriedChorus:
Fly away chick cut the sky
Fly where ever you want to
Just don’t forget there is an eagle in the sky
be awareNow it is only us in the nest
but we are together
Hug me tight say yes
don’t worry it is fun getting old togetherUf gozal….I know it is the way of nature
I left a nest as well
But now when the time comes
I feel a lump in my throatUf gozal….
הגוזלים שלי עזבו את הקן
פרשו כנפיים ועפו
ואני ציפור זקנה נשארתי בקן
מקווה מאוד שהכל יהיה בסדר.תמיד ידעתי שיבוא היום
שבו צריך להיפרד
אבל עכשיו זה ככה בא לי פתאום
אז מה הפלא שאני קצת דואג.עוף גוזל
חתוך את השמיים
טוס לאן שבא לך
רק אל תשכח
יש נשר בשמיים
גור לך.עכשיו נשארנו לבדנו בקן
אבל אנחנו ביחד
חבקי אותי חזק תגידי לי כן
אל תדאגי ביחד כיף להזדקןעוף גוזל…אני יודע שככה זה בטבע
וגם אני עזבתי קן
אבל עכשיו כשבא הרגע
אז מחניק קצת בגרון
מחניק קצת בגרון.עוף גוזל…

When to Use: When parents are having a hard time seeing their Bnai Mitzvah aged children as getting older, becoming teenagers and disengaging from them.

Questions for Reflection:

  • This Israeli coming of age song is about kids going off to the army, how does that contrast to North American bnai mitzvah kids “coming of age”?
  • (For the Parents) Reflect four years into the future when their Bar/Bat mitzvah child is going off to college.  How will you prepare yourself and your child to leave the nest? What are some of the things you want to set in motion now to ensure that they (and you) are ready?


Artistic Piece:  Zalman/ Kobi Oz

When to use:  To discuss the purpose of mitzvot for today’s Jews and the ways in which they can be a part of a system which gives meaning to their day to day lives.  This song can be used either for the work that you do with the Bnai mitzvah family or with the Bnai mitzvah student privately.

Questions for Reflection:

  •  Although this song relates to issues that an adult Jewish man faces (with a family and career) what are some of the answers that you give to the question “Who are you?”  How are you defined by your “roles” (as a student, musician, team player? Other?)How are you defined as a family member?
  • How does Shabbat and Jewish holidays (like Sukkot) give Zalman a new perspective on who he is?
  • How does his father’s answer to the question “Who am I?” give him a new perspective?
  • A Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration is about coming of age regarding our relationship to who we are vis-à-vis mitzvoth and our families.  Who do you want to be in those to contexts?


Weddings/ Falling in Love

Artistic Piece:


Thou Art Beautiful (Song of Songs)Idan Raichel הינך יפה

מילים ולחן: עידן רייכל

Upon my bed, night after night, I sought him whoMy soul loves, I sought him but I found him notI went about these city streets all filled with lies to look for him, I sought him but I found him notThe watchmen that surround the city found me but my love he was so hard to find 

But I shall not let go until I bring him to my city,

To my mother’s house, into my room, into my bed


Thou art beautiful my love, thy lips are like

A thread of scarlet and thy teeth are white as the light of the moon


Who is it that arises from the wilderness, a distant land, carried on a great bird’s wings, arrived here at my home


Thou art beautiful my love, I am bewitched by your two eyes that burn me like fire, like a flame

במיטתי כבר שבועות ביקשתי
את שאהבה נפשי ולא מצאתיו
חיפשתי בין כל רחובות העיר
העמוסה שקרים הזאת ולא מצאתיו
מצאוני השומרים הסובבים בעיר
אך אהובי כמעט ולא מצאתי אותו
אך לא ארפה ממנו עד שאביאו אל תוך עירי
אל בית אימי ואל חדרי אל מיטתיהינך יפהרעייתי ושפתותייך חוט שני
שינייך לבנות כמו אור הלבנה
מי זאת עולה מן המדבר מארץ רחוקה
נישאת על כנף ציפור גדולה הגיעה לביתיבמיטתי כבר שבועות ביקשתי…הינך יפה רעייתי ושפתותייך חוט שני…הינך יפה רעייתי אני נגנב משתי עינייך
ששורפות אותי כאש הלהבה
מי זאת עולה מן המדבר מארץ רחוקה
נישאת על כנף ציפור גדולה הגיעה לביתי


When to use:

In preparatory sessions with a couple as a way of speaking about Jewish love poetry (Shir Hashirim) of which Idan Raichel’s song is a part.

Questions for Reflection:

  • How does this song reflect the “hiding and seeking” that characterized this couples relationship before they committed to be married.
  • In what ways was this love so hard to find?
  • Song of Songs is interpreted as a metaphor for the love between God and the Jewish people.  In what ways do you see your love in a greater context? (note: Rabbi should expand the context for this song.)

Artistic Piece:


Everyone Knows/ Ehud Banai  כולם יודעים

אהוד בנאי

If you don’t want me I’ll leave right away
Catch the train and escape to the mountains
Dont look for me I’ll return by myself
And won’t leave you for the rest of my lifeMy love listen to the lark,
from dawn of day, we live here
One more day in the journey that you’re next to me
How this ends, everyone knows
Everyone knows.The day changes to the next day
And sometimes we’re very tired
I get angry, and you shed a tear
And to return and heal the woundAfter all this maybe we’ll escape to some island
Where kids hang around freely on the beach
And I’ll put a red flower in your hair
And where the stars are above usMy love, look at the day today
Like a dream, like an illusion
and if you suddenly feel I’m far away,
Don’t be scared its just for some momentsMy love listen to the lark,
from dawn of day, we live here
One more day in the journey that you’re next to me
How this ends, everyone knows
Everyone knows.
אם לא תרצי אותי אני עוזב מיד
תופס רכבת בורח להרים
אל תחפשי אותי אני חוזר לבד
ולא עוזב אותך יותר כל החיים.אהובתי, הקשיבי אל העפרוני,
מאיר היום, אנחנו כאן חיים
עוד יום אחד בדרך כשאת לצידי,
איך זה נגמר בסוף, כולם יודעים.
כן, כולם יודעים.היום הזה חולף כמעט כמו כל יום
ולפעמים אנחנו כל כך עייפים
אני כועס ואת מוחה דמעה,
ויש לחזור ולאסוף את הרסיסים.אחרי כל זה אולי נפליג לאיזה אי
על קו החוף ישוטטו הילדים,
שושן אדום אני אקטוף לשערך
כשמעלינו חופה של כוכבים.אהובתי הביטי איך יורד היום
כמו חלום, כמו חזיון תעתועים,
ואם את מרגישה אותי רחוק פתאום
אל תפחדי זה רק לכמה רגעים.אהובתי, הקשיבי אל העפרוני…


When to Use:

In an educational/ pastoral meeting with a couple who are realistic about the dynamics of closeness and distance in relationships.

 Questions for Reflection:

  • This is a song about the ultimacy of love – to be together for the rest of our lives.  What do you think the refrain, “Everyone knows” refers to?
  • There’s a way in which a Jewish wedding is both about creating new worlds and being aware of the fragility of life.  We express that by a partner wearing a kittel (a white garment) that will be worn again at the time of his death, and reciting the vidui prayer before the ceremony (something we do on Yom Kippur and at the moment of death.)
  • How does our awareness of death or, “the end” make your relationship all the more precious?  How do you intend to capture that preciousness throughout your married life?


Artistic Piece:


Today/ Ehud Banai היום

אהוד בנאי

Today we’ll do something unforgettable
that will leave a blessed memory of joy
today I’ll put my hand on your head and stroke it
today I’ll finally cause you to smile
today I’ll chase away the sorrow from your eyes
I’ll make today the happiest in your life
today you’ll hear what you haven’t heard yet
I’ll renew you a renewal and light up your look
today I’ll cook you something tasty
I’ll do everything so you’d feel pleasantly
right, I don’t always show love
but today I ask to be close, today.The two of us haven’t talked for so much time
about everything that passes above us
today we’ll go out, around in the neighborhood
we’ll sit a bit together on a bench in the garden
today we’ll do something unforgettable
that will leave a blessed memory of joy
today I’ll put my hand on your head to stroke it
today I’ll finally cause you to smile
היום נעשה משהו בלתי נשכח
שישאיר זיכרון של שמחה מבורך
היום אשלח יד ללטף את ראשך
היום אגרום לך סוף סוף לחייך
היום אגרש את העצב מעינייך
אעשה את היום למאושר בחייך
היום תשמעי מה שעוד לא שמעת
אחדש לך חידוש ואדליק לך מבט
היום אבשל לך משהו טעים
אעשה את הכל שיהיה לך נעים
נכון, לא תמיד אני מראה אהבה
אבל היום אני מבקש את הקירבה
היוםכל כך הרבה זמן לא דיברנו שנינו
על כל מה שעובר מעלינו
היום נצא לסיבוב בשכונה
נשב קצת ביחד על ספסל בגינה
היום נעשה משהו בלתי נשכח
שישאיר זיכרון של שמחה מבורך
היום אשלח יד ללטף את ראשך
היום אגרום לך סוף סוף לחייך


When to use it: Renewal of vows ceremony

 Questions for reflection:

  • The song acknowledges that while we might not always feel close to each other, that the singer will make every effort to “Today”.  Do you anticipate/ have you experienced periods of closeness and distance?  How have you made living in the moment, or “hayom”, count?
  • For renewal of vows ceremony: How does this ceremony mark a new chapter in your relationship?
  • For a wedding: What are ways that you might anticipate dealing with times in your married life when you grow apart and need to reconnect?  What particular rituals may you think of? (Date night weekly? Other?)


Artistic Piece:

Come, My Bride/ Achinoam Nini (adapted from poem by Leah Goldberg) 

בואי כלה

אחינועם ניני

מילים: לאה גולדברג

לחן: אחינועם ניני וגיל דור

The nearness of the sea and you
Obliterates all hopes of restYour salty breath has blown over the sea
To penetrate my breastThe rising of my love
Is like the waves at tide…Come, my brideIn a red moon over sea
Your blood is burning
In a red moon I can see
Our blood is turningThe rising tide
Will call and cry
Your name, your name in yearning
Come, my brideHow can I close the window
When the storm is near?

How can I close my window
When your feet are bare?

How can I close my window
When the ocean weeps

How can I, knowing you’re
Awake somewhere…

The owl shattered my sleep
When in the night he cried,
Come, my bride

קרבתך וקרבת הים
גזלו את שנתי.
נשמת אפך נשבה מן הים
ותחדור, מלוחה, אל ביתי.

וגלים בדכים
עולים בבכים
למרומי אהבתי.
בואי כלה –

בירח אדום מול הים
מפכה דמך.
בירח אדום מול הים
דמי ודמך.
וגלים בדכים
זועקים בבכים
את שמך, את שמך, את שמך,
בואי כלה.

איך אסגור את חלוני
וקרובה הסופה?
איך אסגור את חלוני
ואת יחפה?
איך אסגור את חלוני
והים קרא?
איך אסגור את חלוני
ואת ערה?
והאוח מלב הליל
את שנתי קרע?
בואי כלה.


Original Poem by Leah Goldberg: The Lovers on the Beach


Your nearness and the sea’s

Have stolen my sleep.

Your breath drawn salty from the sea

Has invaded my house.

And the waves wild

Weeping all the while

Surge to the heights of my love.

Come to me, my bride –


In a red moon above the sea

Your blood flows.

In a red moon above the sea

My blood and yours.

And the waves wild

Weeping all the while

Cry out your name, your name, your name.

Come to me, my bride.


How can I close my window

And the storm is near?

How can I close my window

And your feet are bare?

How can I close my window and the sea calls out?

How can I close my window

And you are awake?

And the owl of night’s heart

Has torn my sleep in two?

Come to me, my bride.



You sent the owl

To rouse me from sleep.

You taught me to scream

Words of love and beseeching –

But I’ll not come, not come, not come!


You set loose the scent

Of seaweed and full moons,

You commanded the sea to moan


In the voice of love and beseeching –

But I’ll not come, not come, not come!


The waves kissed my legs,

The hem of my white dress.

In your voice of love and beseeching

They said: “Come to me”

And I returned home,

I shut my door,

My window is sealed –

My heart sleeps and I sleep.

When to use:

In an education/pastoral meeting with a couple who is passionately in love (and for whom the natural metaphors will resonate.)

 Questions for Reflection:

  • How does the yearning reflected in this poem speak to your yearning for each other?
  • How do the images from nature (the sea, the storm, the owl) mirror the emotional state of two lovers?
  • Notice that the original poem this poem is a dialogue between a man and a woman – the man calls out while the woman, tho’ tempted, turns her back.  Was this dynamic reflected in your courtship?  Were there other dynamics at play?
  • What do you think about the metaphors of “awake” and “asleep” mean in this poem vis a vis love?  Is love sometimes too intense that you need to escape into sleep?  How can you be “awake” in your love for each other?
  • The term, “Come My Bride” are used is during the kabbalat Shabbat service on Friday nights, in what ways is the yearning Jews felt for Shabbat mirrored in the this subjects’ yearning for his bride?


(From  “Selected Poetry and Drama”, Lea Goldberg, The Toby Press: London England, 2005, p121-122)


4. Funeral/ Shiva House

 Artistic piece:


Take me under your wing/ Chaim N. Bialik הַכְנִיסִינִי תַּחַת כְּנָפֵךְ

חיים נחמן ביאליק

Take me under your wing,
be my mother, my sister.
Take my head to your breast,
my banished prayers to your nest.One merciful twilight hour,
hear my pain, bend your head.
They say there is youth in the world.
Where has my youth fled?Listen! another secret:
I have been seared by a flame.
They say there is love in the world.
How do we know love’s name?I was deceived by the stars.
There was a dream; it passed.
I have nothing at all in the world,
nothing but a vast waste.Take me under your wing,
be my mother, my sister.
Take my head to your breast,
my banished prayers to your nest.
הַכְנִיסִינִי תַּחַת כְּנָפֵךְ,וַהֲיִי לִי אֵם וְאָחוֹת,וִיהִי חֵיקֵךְ מִקְלַט רֹאשִׁי,קַן-תְּפִלּוֹתַי הַנִּדָּחוֹת.וּבְעֵת רַחֲמִים, בֵּין-הַשְּׁמָשׁוֹת,שְׁחִי וַאֲגַל לָךְ סוֹד יִסּוּרָי:

אוֹמְרִים, יֵשׁ בָּעוֹלָם נְעוּרִים   –

הֵיכָן נְעוּרָי?

וְעוֹד רָז אֶחָד לָךְ אֶתְוַדֶּה:

נַפְשִׁי נִשְׂרְפָה בְלַהֲבָהּ;

אוֹמְרִים, אַהֲבָה יֵשׁ בָּעוֹלָם –

מַה-זֹּאת אַהֲבָה?

הַכּוֹכָבִים רִמּוּ אוֹתִי,

הָיָה חֲלוֹם – אַךְ גַּם הוּא עָבָר;

עַתָּה אֵין לִי כְלוּם בָּעוֹלָם –

אֵין לִי דָבָר.

הַכְנִיסִינִי תַּחַת כְּנָפֵךְ,

וַהֲיִי לִי אֵם וְאָחוֹת,

וִיהִי חֵיקֵךְ מִקְלַט רֹאשִׁי,

קַן-תְּפִלּוֹתַי הַנִּדָּחוֹת.


Song Options:

Arik Einstein:

Habanot Nechama:

When to Use: During a funeral service, or to leave at the house of mourners.

Questions for Reflection:

  • When are the times that we need protection in our lives?
  • Here the image is of the Shekhinah, the feminine aspect of God that hovers close to earth.  Is the idea of protection in the in the womb of the shekhina a comforting image?


Artistic Piece:

My Father/ Yehuda Amichai אבי

יהודה עמיחי

The memory of my father is wrapped up inWhite paper, like sandwiches taken for a day at work.Just as a magician takes towers and rabbitsOut of his hat, he drew love from his small body, 

And the rivers of his hands

Overflowed with good deeds.

זכר אבי עטוף בניר לבן
כפרוסות ליום עבודה.כקוסם, המוציא מכובעו ארנבות ומגדלים,
הוציא מתוך גופו הקטן – אהבה.נהרות ידיו
נשפכו לתוך מעשיו הטובים.


When to use:  Either read at the funeral service or leave as a poem with the mourners.

Questions for Reflection:

  • How do the common (sandwiches taken for a day at work) and elusive (memories) get wrapped up with each other as you enter into a stage of mourning?



Artistic Piece:

A man in His Life/ Yehuda Amichai אדם בחייו

יהודה עמיחי

A man doesn’t have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn’t have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes
Was wrong about that.A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment,
to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
to make love in war and war in love.
And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
what history
takes years and years to do.A man doesn’t have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.And his soul is seasoned, his soul
is very professional.
Only his body remains forever
an amateur. It tries and it misses,
gets muddled, doesn’t learn a thing,
drunk and blind in its pleasures
and its pains.

He will die as figs die in autumn,
Shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
the leaves growing dry on the ground,
the bare branches pointing to the place
where there’s time for everything.

אדם בחייו אין לו זמן שיהיה לו
זמן לכל.
ואין לו עת שתהיה לועת
לכל חפץ. קהלת לא צדק כשאמר כך.אדם צריך לשנאולאהב בבת אחת,
באותן עיניים לבכות ובאותן עיניים לצחוק
באותן ידיםלזרוק אבנים
ובאותן ידים לאסוף אותן,
לעשות אהבה במלחמה ומלחמהבאהבה.ולשנוא ולסלוח ולזכור ולשכוח
ולסדר ולבלבלולאכל ולעכל
את מה שהסטוריה ארכה
עושה בשנים רבות מאד.אדם בחייו אין לו זמן.
כשהוא מאבד הוא מחפש
כשהוא מוצא הואשוכח,
כשהוא שוכח הוא אוהב
וכשהוא אוהב הוא מתחיל לשכוח.

נפשו למודה,

ונפשו מקצועית מאד
רק גופו נשארחובב
תמיד. מנסה וטועה
לא לומד ומתבלבל
שכור ועור בתענוגיוובמכאוביו.

מות תאנים ימות בסתו
מצמק ומלא בעצמוומתוק,
העלים מתיבשים על האדמה,
והענפים הערומים כבר מצביעים
אל המקום שבו זמן לכל.


Questions for Reflection:

  • While many of us feel in control of our lives, there are some things we have no control over – when we enter into the world and when we leave it.
  • Reflect on how your loved one spent much of his/ her time, how might that influence what kinds of things you spend your time on?


Artistic Piece:


The Tree in a Field/ Natan ZachVocalist: Shalom Chanoch עץ השדה

שלום חנוך

מילים: נתן זך / לחן: שלום חנוך

For the human is like the tree in a field,
like the human, the tree grows too;
like the tree, the human is chopped down,
and I don’t know
where I’ve been and where I’ll be,
like the tree in a field!For the human is like the tree in a field,
like the tree he strives upwards;
like the human, it burns in fire,
and I don’t know
where I’ve been and where I’ll be,
like the tree in a field!I loved, and I hated too,
I tasted this and that;
I was buried in a plot of dust,
and I feel sour – sour in my mouth,
like the tree in a field! (x2)For the human is like the tree in a field,
like the tree he’s thirsty for water;
like the human, it stays thirsty,
and I don’t know
where I’ve been and where I’ll be,
like the tree in a field!

I loved…

כי האדם עץ השדה
כמו האדם גם העץ צומח
כמו העץ האדם נגדע
ואני לא יודע
איפה הייתי ואיפה אהיה
כמו עץ השדהכי האדם עץ השדה
כמו העץ הוא שואף למעלה
כמו האדם הוא נשרף באש
ואני לא יודע
איפה הייתי ואיפה אהיה
כמו עץ השדהאהבתי וגם שנאתי
טעמתי מזה ומזה
קברו אותי בחלקה של עפר
ומר לי, מר לי בפה
כמו עץ השדהכי האדם עץ השדה
כמו העץ הוא צמא למים
כמו האדם הוא נשאר צמא
ואני לא יודע
איפה הייתי ואיפה אהיה
כמו עץ השדה

אהבתי וגם שנאתי
טעמתי מזה ומזה
קברו אותי בחלקה של עפר
ומר לי, מר לי בפה
כמו עץ השדה.


Shalom Hanoch (Hebrew: שלום חנוך) (born September 1, 1946) is an Israeli rock singer, lyricist and composer, which is considered the father of the Israeli rock and the most important artist of that area. His works have profoundly influenced Israeli rock and modern Israeli music. His collaboration with Arik Einstein produced some of the first Israeli rock albums.

Natan Zach was born 1930 in Berlin, Germany, to a German father and an Italian mother, Zach immigrated to what was then known as Palestine in 1936 and served in the IDF during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

In 1955, he published his first collection of poetry (Shirim Rishonim, Hebrew: שירים ראשונים‎), and also translated numerous German plays for the Hebrew stage.  internationally acclaimed, Zach has been called “the most articulate and insistent spokesman of the modernist movement in Hebrew poetry”. He is one of the best known Israeli poets abroad.

Questions for Reflection:

  • How is comparing a human life to a tree in the field comforting?


Artistic Piece:

Before/ Yehuda Amichai בטרם

יהודה עמיחי

 Before the gate has been closed,Before the last question is posed,Before I am transposed.

Before the weeds fill the gardens,

Before there are no more pardons,

Before the concrete hardens.

Before all the flute-holes are covered,

Before things are locked in the cupboard,

Before the rules are discovered.

Before the conclusion is planned,

Before God closes his hand,

Before we have nowhere to stand.


)Translated by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell, The Selected Poems of Yehuda Amichai )


בטרם השער יסגר,בטרם כל האמור יאמר,בטרם אהיה אחר.בטרם יקריש דם נבון,

בטרם יסגרו הדברים בארון,

בטרם יתקשה הבטון.

בטרם יסתמו כל נקבי החלילים,

בטרם יוסברו כל הכללים,

בטרם ישברו את הכלים.

בטרם החוק יכנס לתקפו

בטרם אלהים יסגור את כפו

בטרם נלך מפה.


When to use: Leave at house for mourners to consider after the intensity of pain subsides.

Questions for Reflection:

  • This poem is often recited in synagogue as a part of the Neilah Service of Yom Kippur at the time when the “gates are closing.”
  • What are ways in which our “near death” experience that Yom Kippur conjures helps us live more fully?
  • How does the death of a loved one challenge us to consider how we are living our own lives?


It is a custom to place a tiny sack of soil from Eretz Yisrael in the casket next to the deceased.  When meeting with the bereaved family, a rabbi can explore the meaning of this custom with this powerful personal story from the contemporary Jewish philosopher, Richard Rubenstein, as he told it to Elie Wiesel:

I should like to conclude with an anecdote about my maternal grandmother.  She came to the United States as a young woman from Lithuania.  She was an Orthodox Jewish woman who never learned to speak English.  Once settled in New York City, she never moved from what was then the Jewish ghetto in the Lower East Side.

I remember one day in 1936 when, as a twelve-year old, I went to visit her.  This was difficult for me because I could not speak Yiddish.  Our communication was, of necessity, almost completely non-verbal. I accidentally opened up one of her drawers where I discovered a paper bag filled with dirt.  On the outside of the bag, there was the stamp of the British government of Palestine.  The bag, with its dirt, had been sent to her from the Holy Land.  My own Jewish training was exceedingly limited but I had the good sense not to ask her any questions about the bag. I shut the drawer and did not see the bag until years later.  As they lowered my grandmother’s coffin into her grave, her oldest son took that paper bag containing the earth of the land of Israel and poured it on the head of the coffin.  At that moment I understood something about my grandmother for the first time.  My grandmother was a wandering Jew all of her life, but she did not want to wander forever.  Somewhere deep within her psyche, she wanted to go home. Her way of going home, at least symbolically, was to return to the earth of her ultimate place of origin as a Jew, the Holy Land. She was a child of earth.  In death she wanted her dust to mingle with the dust of the home of her ancestors.  I am also convinced that she was returning to the Great Goddess of that earth.  In her own way, my grandmother was a thoroughgoing a pagan as I am.

                “Richard L. Rubenstein and Elie Wiesel: An Exchange,” in Holocaust: Religious and Philosophical Implications, ed. John K. Roth and Michael Berenbaum (1989), 361. 


 Stage 3: Follow Up

Context: Integration within the Synagogue Life and Family


The following ideas are discreet conversations that you can have related to the life cycle events of your congregants.  However, Israel lives within a larger context within your congregations and the work that you do to integrate Israel into life cycle events will be reinforced when you consciously integrate Israel into many other aspects of your congregations life (e.g. in sermons you give from the pulpit to the curriculum in the classroom)

See Appendix for:

1) Alex Sinclair & Esti Moskovitz-Kalman, “Bringing Conversations about Israel into the Life of American Congregations,” S3K Report (Fall 2009)


2) Makom Engaging Israel Seminars for other ways that synagogues can become more Israel engaged.


Brit Milah/ Simchat Bat

  • Connect with PJ library to give a baby gift of a new book when the child is born.  Select a book that is related to visiting Israel (like “Sammy Spider’s First Trip to Israel.”)
  • Send new parents a CD of Jewish lullabies that include Yiddish and Israeli bedtime songs with explanation of its context (like “From Generation To Generation: A Legacy Of Lullabies”).


Bar/Bat Mitzvah

  • Encourage Bnai Mitvah family to travel to Israel (before or after their celebration with their community not instead).  This can be either as a private family tour, or a congregational trip.
  • Encourage Post Bnai Mitzvah kids who do go to Israel to come up for a special Aliyah in the synagogue, and/ or speak about their trip on a Friday night.



  • Encourage the newlyweds to go on a honeymoon to Israel (or at least to have a sheva bracha there within one year of their marriage.)
  • Synagogue may consider renting a house in Israel (for the Rabbi) and the Rabbi (when not there) offers it to congregants coming for a Life Cycle event.


Additional Program Ideas for any LC Event

Food/Drink: Team up with Israeli food purveyors (wine, tea, candies, coffee) to offer Israeli products to be served for every LC event.

DVD/Film with 1-2 page guide: Bring the taste and feel of Israel by producing a 10-15 minute high quality DVD sampling different life cycle ceremonies from different edot.  Particularly useful for rabbis to give to families planning baby namings, bnai mitzvah ceremonies and weddings.  They would give it to these families in the context of their preparatory sessions and use it as a tool to ask them “what did you see, what resonated with you? What was foreign to you? What would you want to incorporate into your ceremony?”

The DVD would serve a second goal of implicitly creating a connection to Israel by making them aware that, “Israelis and I have different ways of expressing our Judaism, but there is also common language (Kiddush, chuppah).”

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