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Network: How Do We Create New Rituals for Changing Times? (2016-17)

How do we create new rituals for changing times?

Facilitated by Rabbi Roni Handler, Interim Director of Admissions and Recruitment at RRC, Executive Editor of Ritualwell.org

For Reconstructionist clergy and those experienced with innovative ritual creation

Wednesdays 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. EST – Dec. 14, Feb. 15 & May 17

Rabbis’ manuals and traditional liturgy will only take us so far in meeting the needs of contemporary Jews and Jewish communities. This network will be an opportunity to pool our collective knowledge and expertise to create and discuss meaningful and innovative Jewish rituals. Sessions will offer examples from experts in the field. During the second half of each session, participants will share their own experiences and knowledge with the group. Together, we may even create new ideas to be shared on Ritualwell.org!


Guiding Questions for Creating Ritual - Creating a ritual that works doesn’t mean that the ritual has to be long, or include text and music and symbolic objects.  Rather, creating effective rituals happens when our rituals fit well with their settings and participants, often in the simplest way possible.  Draw from your own experiences when thinking through rituals for your community.  
  • What moment/experience are you marking?
  • What is the goal?
  • Who is the ritual focus?
  • Is this a new, adapted or traditional ritual?
  • Who are the participants and what are their roles?
  • What preparation does each participant need to be ready for this moment?
  • What texts are informing or incorporated into your ritual?
  • What are the objects/symbols that are a part of your ritual?
  • What is the role of music (if any)?
  • What are the actions that make up your ritual?
  • How does it begin?
  • What is the emotional / spiritual high point?
  • How does it end?

Inventing Jewish Ritual by Vanessa Ochs

Vanessa Ochs invites her readers to explore how Jewish practice can be more meaningful through renewing, reshaping, and even creating new rituals, such as naming ceremonies for welcoming baby girls, healing services, Miriam’s cup, mitzvah days, egalitarian wedding practices, and commitment ceremonies… Ochs describes the range and diversity of interest in this Jewish American experience and examines how it reflects tradition as it revives Jewish culture and faith. And she shows us how to create our own ritual objects, sacred spaces, ceremonies, and liturgies that can be paths to greater personal connection with history and with holiness… Through these and more, we see that American Judaism is a dynamic cultural process very much open to change and a source of great personal and communal meaning. (Amazon.com)