Creative Life Cycle Rituals for Women

by Rayzel Raphael

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For millennia, the Jewish people and other religious groups have marked holy time. They have marked the passage of time with rituals, and have used ceremonies to formally acknowledge life cycle and important events. Rituals help people recognize and sacralize life experiences.

There are the traditional rituals for Shabbat and holidays, and life cycle. Yet, in this abundance of ritual, there is a noticeable absence of ceremonies stemming from women’s creative impulses and affirming women’s life experiences.

In the Bible, there are a number of examples of women’s life cycle ceremonies. The story of Hannah (Samuel 1:21-28) illustrates a woman’s weaning ritual. The women of the community go to lament the daughter of Yiftach (Judges 11:34-40) each year. A red thread is wound around a newborn (Genesis 38:28). Today we live in an atypical era with a lack of these types of women’s ceremonies. We feel the cravings in our souls. The forces of modernity and the predominantly (male) secular culture have obliterated the existence of authentic women’s rites.

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