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Family, Coming of Age, and the Life Cycle

nested handsWhether it is the transition from child to teenager, from teenager to young adult, becoming a parent or an “elder,” every culture has a set of ceremonies or ritual acts that announce significant new stages along life’s path.  I help create family and community ceremonies where these transitions are acknowledged, celebrated and revered.

Baby Welcoming

When a new child comes into the family through birth or adoption, a formal welcoming ceremony is a joyful and profound way of weaving his or her unique personality and spirit into the family web.  I can help create a ceremony that includes the naming and blessing of a new arrival in which any or all family members can participate, along with others in the community and, when appropriate, ritual circumcision specialists, medical personnel and midwives, adoption agents, caretakers and others.


maybe for coming of age 22222From confirmation ceremonies to “vision quests” and “Sweet Sixteen” balls, every culture has traditions that acknowledge and celebrate the powerful changes a child undergoes on his or her way to young adulthood.  Coming-of-age ceremonies mark a two-fold transformation. First, there is a shift in the child’s sense of him- or herself and his or her newly won freedom, and responsibility toward the family and community.  Second, the family and community are transformed by the changing role of the young person that is coming-of-age.

There is no one set formula. A ceremonial coming-of-age process can occur at specific intervals over time in a symbolic progression from childhood to young adulthood, or it can focus exclusively on a culminating ritual.  Coming-of-age rituals can rely entirely on traditional elements, or can incorporate the traditions of several cultures,  or they can be entirely new, created by the child, the family and the multi-faith minister and celebrant.

Whatever the ceremony desired, I specialize in helping young people and their “villages” celebrate these transitions in personally meaningful ways which include family and community.

Bar and Bat Mitzvah Preparation

MI0000081711In addition to the traditional Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation process, where a child is expected to learn his or her Torah portion and the wisdom and it may contain (followed by a party), Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparations should also include a series of guided discussions about what it really means to become morally and ethically responsible in a Jewish context, and to encourage in the child a sense of the inwardness, gravity and responsibility that becoming a very young man or woman entails.  There are many wonderful sources in ancient and contemporary Jewish literature that point the way in these matters, and there can – and ought to be – lots of creativity in personalizing the Bar/Bat Mitzvah transition in the family’s distinct “voice.  I can help.

Becoming a Parent

Becoming a parent changes you forever.  Formally noting and celebrating your transformation into a parent, and dedicating yourself to the “new arrival” is a powerful experience, whether done in tandem with your spouse and child, in the presence of the family and community, or by yourself.  Whatever method is chosen, parenting ceremonies are opportunities to articulate your most heartfelt emotions and highest principles, and provide an occasion to declare openly your commitment to guide and nurture the new generation.

Fatherhood Ceremonies

Midwives and mothers know how pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood transform a woman emotionally, spiritually, and in relation to her family and social roles.  A father too has a vital role in conception and parenting.  But the profound changes a man undergoes in his transformation, from lover, husband, and seed-giver to father, nurturer, and family partner are often less clearly defined and therefore less celebrated.

As a multi-faith minister and celebrant (and proud father), I want to support families in acknowledging and encouraging a father’s unique role in the life of the family.  Fatherhood ceremonies are powerful, joyful and meaningful occasions for both father and mother, and can ultimately promote a better-rounded family environment for the baby.  Fatherhood rituals can follow a sequence from the first positive pregnancy test, through the stages of the pregnancy and birth and the child-rearing to follow, or they can occur once along the timeline.

Becoming an Elder

Those who have truly lived life have gained experience, wisdom and perspective that benefit and serve the family, the community and the entire world.  Whether you have reached a point in life where your child-rearing years are over, or you have chosen to go through life solo and to develop and contribute in your own unique way, or have reached a milestone birthday that bespeaks a certain gravitas, it is wholesome, appropriate and delightful to acknowledge your elderhood to yourself, your loved ones, and your larger circle through a special ceremony.  It is my honor to help design meanginful, solemn, creative and joyful elder ceremonies.