Chapter 1, verse 1 of Pirkei Avot (the Ethics of the Fathers) reminds us to “build a fence around the Torah.” But what If that fence had a gate in it?
This is just what the creators of ritualwell.org are working on. Ritual is an ancient way of sanctifying and really paying attention to important events of all sorts, but as the people behind ritualwell say, “Sometimes Jewish tradition does not yet have in place the ritual that will fill our need.” The answer? To choose from a variety of new rituals, posted on the site, or to follow the directions towards making your own new, meaningful, Jewishly connected ritual.
The people behind ritualwell.org, including Kolot, the Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and Ma’yan, the Jewish women’s project at the JCC in Manhattan, are concerned with providing feminist-, queer- and interfaith-friendly rites. The site includes new spins on more traditional rituals, such as daily prayers over food rewritten in “alternative feminine God-language,” with phrases such as “Beruchah At Yah Eloheynu Ruach Ha’olam”—”You are blessed, O God, Spirit of the World.” The new rituals listed also take language into careful consideration, even down to the prayer for driving, suitable for when an adolescent gets a driver’s license (“Our God and God of our ancestors… Help me to drive with care—keeping a safe distance, with manners—giving the right of way, with awareness—so as to stop in time…”). It is clear that ritualweli.org works very hard to be inclusive, open and Jewishly relevant.