Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Jewish Ritual

See the current issue of "Contact," the magazine of the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, for some interesting articles on new Jewish rituals.

From one of the essays, by Vanessa Ochs:

In our generation, ritual innovation has come about in response to the crisis of the Holocaust (Yom HaShoah) but it has also been the necessary response to a whole range of marvelous things: the creation of the state of Israel (Yom Ha’atz maut), the ethics of feminism (bat mitzvah, Rosh Hodesh groups, Miriam’s cup and the orange on the seder plate), and the growing interest in social justice and tikkun olam (the matzah of hope for Soviet Jewry, community mitzvah day, mitzvah projects for b’nai mitzvah). Some of the newly invented rituals eventually
become so old and so beloved — say, breaking a glass at a wedding, or tossing out one’s sins in the tashlich ceremony on Rosh Hashanah — that we start believing that they have been around since the beginning of Jewish time. Part of the efficacy of rituals is that we can easily trick ourselves into believing that our invented rituals were never new, reembraced or remade. But the fact is that all of our rituals were at one point created. They were new and then, because they were embraced, they became real.

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