I was recently able to attend services at an area synagogue and was reminded of a ritual at services I have been wanting to try: a way for us as a congregation to sanctify each other’s birthdays.

The ORacle, March 2011 Issue

In Judaism, family life, prayer, ethnicity, and community are all intermingled. Judaism is not simply a declaration of faith. Supporting each other as a congregation is just as important. When we gather as a kehillah, as a community, at services, we join together for many different reasons: to pray, to support each other, to take a deep breath and center ourselves, to socialize, and to lose ourselves in the music.

One tradition that I find especially meaningful is to communally recognize those who have celebrated a birthday over the past month. These congregants are invited to share with the congregation one new thing that they learned about themselves or about living life over the past year. We then have an opportunity to bless this milestone together.

Temple Beth Or has tried different ways to recognize birthdays in the past. One was sending individual birthday cards which led to concerns that this may not be the most environmentally or financially sound choice. We currently recognize birthdays in The ORacle, but doing so during a service is a more personal way to sanctify each other’s growth, get to know each other better, and continue to take part in each other’s lives.

I will be blessing those with birthdays during the following services: March 25, April 8, May 21, and June 10.

Looking forward to hearing what new teachings the year has brought you and sanctifying this special occasion together.

Rabbi Jessica K. Marshall