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A Sense of Havdallah

Photo courtesy of the Teen Giving Project at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia

By, Danielle Segal, Program Manager at the Jewish Teen Funders Network

The year has zoomed by, and our programs are already on the home stretch. The end of a program cycle can be bitter-sweet. The culmination of the teen’s hard work is celebrated in granting ceremonies and much-needed funds are distributed, and there is also a sense of closing, of saying goodbye to your teens and of leaving a place of comfort. How can we meaningfully close out our year, connect back to our Jewish identities within the program and reflect on our experiences over the program cycle?

In The Ritual of Giving, we mention the notion of the Havdalah service, the ritual for separating Shabbat from the rest of the week. This short service, filled with songs, prayers and symbols, gives us a structure to help us make a transition from one state-of-mind to another. Thinking of using Havdalah as a template for a closing activity for your program? Try using one or two of these elements or combine all of them to create your own Havdalah closing service:

The Havdalah service asks us to explore our 5 senses in order to experience the end of Shabbat: 1. Taste (the wine/grape juice); 2. Smell (the spices); 3. Sight (watching the flame from the braided candle); 4. Touch (feel the heat from the flame); and 5. Sound (the sizzle of extinguishing the flame in the wine/grape juice). The element of the Havdalah service can serve as inspiration to take stock of our year in philanthropy and celebrate our accomplishments.

BLESSING OVER THE WINE/GRAPE JUICE (taste):

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha’olam, borei p’riy ha-gafen.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּֽפֶן.

 

  • The sweetness of the wine or grape juice reminds us to take the sweetest of Shabbat into the new week. What has been the funniest or most joyous moment of the program this year?

BLESSING OVER THE SPICES (smell):

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of all kinds of spices.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, boreh minay v’samim.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא מִינֵי בְשָׂמִים.

 

  • Our sense of smell is the strongest sense of recall. When we smell something familiar, it takes us right back to that place, that moment when you smelled it. Remember how you felt when you first entered the program this year? How is it different to now? What changes have taken place since the beginning of the program?

BLESSING OVER THE CANDLE (sight and feel):

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of the lights of fire

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, boreh mi’oray ha’eish.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא מְאוֹרֵי הָאֵשׁ.

 

  • As we feel the warmth of the candle and reflect the light from the flame onto our fingernails, let’s reflect on the impact we have achieved during our program. How will the impact be felt by the recipients in the non-profits that we are donating to?

BLESSING OF HAVDALLAH (hear):

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who separates the holy from the mundane, light from darkness, Israel from the other peoples, the seventh day of rest from the six days of work. Blessed are You, Sovereign, who separates the holy from the ordinary.
Baruch atah, Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, hamavdil bayn kodesh l’chol bayn or l’choshechbayn Yisrael la’amim bayn yom hashevi’i l’shayshet yemay hama’aseh. Baruch atah, Adonai, hamavdil bayn kodesh l’chol.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמַּבְדִיל בֵּין קֹֽדֶשׁ לְחוֹל, בֵּין אוֹר לְחֹֽשֶׁךְ, בֵּין יִשְׂרָאֵל לָעַמִּים, בֵּין יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי לְשֵֽׁשֶׁת יְמֵי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, הַמַּבְדִיל בֵּין קֹֽדֶשׁ לְחוֹל.
 
  • We came to consensus in order to make our granting decisions. We listened to each other and heard each other’s opinions. As we hear the sizzle of the flame as we extinguish it in the wine, this is the moment where we separate the program year from our summer break. Go round the room and listen to everyone’s summer plans. Really listen. Take it in turns to recount everyone’s items from memory.