The following excerpts from a Secular/Humanist Shabbat Service emphasize our connection to the land and themes of social justice, in English, Hebrew transliteration and some Yiddish. Although the traditions of Shabbat are often seen as purely religious rituals, many secular Jews around the world see Friday night as a perfect time to gather together with friends and family to reconnect after a busy week. While some may not partake in any traditional religious rituals, others perform those that are culturally meaningful to them, oftentimes lighting candles, reciting Kiddush, or eating challah. Some choose to create their own personalized versions of these rituals, based on religious, national, and philosophical texts and themes, as can be seen in the texts below. The entire service, written and compiled by leaders of the Secular Humanist Jewish movement, can be viewed at the bottom of the post.
1. Naomi Prawer Kadar’s Blessing Over the Bread
In tasting bread, we remember the hungry. May there be a day when no human being suffers the pain and
desolation of hunger. May the bounty we enjoy help us to bring to fruition the vision of a besere un a
shenere velt, a better and more beautiful world.
(Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, 1995)
2. Rabbi Judith Seid’s Blessing Over the Bread
We rejoice in our heritage that teaches us to love our earth that gives us wheat and to honor the farmers
who grow it and the workers who make it into bread.
Ashreinu b’yerushateinu she’morah lanu le’ehuv et ha’adama, matsmikhat dagan, u’l’khabed et ha’ikar ha’motsi lekhem min ha’aretz v’et hapo’el hao’ofeh khalot.
Mir freyen zich mit undzer yerusheh vos hot undz oysgelernt az mir zoln lib hobn undzer erd vos git undz veytz,
oon dermant undz opgebn koved di vos akern dos erd oon kooltivirn dem veytz, oon di arbeter vos bakn undz dos broit.
(We Rejoice in Our Heritage: Home Rituals for Secular Jews)
3. Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine’s Blessing Over the Bread
B’rukhim hakhayim baolam. Blessed be the life in the world.
B’rukhim hakhayim baadama. Blessed be the life in the earth.
B’rukhim hamotsim lekhem minhaorets. Blessed are those who bring forth bread from the earth.
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