I am the rabbi of a tiny community in the Rocky Mountains of Montana—the largest congregation in the state. Easily over eighty percent of our members have intermarried. Non-Jewish family members and friends are part of the life of my community.
B”Mitzvahs have become moments of interest to me. They are large gatherings with guests from all over the country. They obviously mean a lot to my families and their relatives, who almost always are excited to be a part of the service—and who cry no less than their Jewish family! They also are, by very nature, moments of commitment and exclusivity.
In thinking about a possible way for non-Jewish family members and friends to accompany, celebrate, and support their grandchildren, nephews and nieces, cousins, and friends, I wrote the following blessing.
Blessing for a B”Mitzvah by Non-Jewish Family Members
For generations, each member of our family has paved their own road.
Whenever we come together, we celebrate the vastness of our traditions, the depth of our stories, and the care that connects us.
On this day, you are taking upon yourself a heritage older than most others on this planet.
From this day on, you are a bearer of Torah, one of the sacred books of humanity.
We see that you are strong, wise, and ready to hold on to this book and make its teachings part of your own story.
We are proud of your pride in being Jewish.
We respect the respect you show for your heritage.
We love the love you feel for a people and a wisdom you chose for yourself.
Go, _______, find your own way. Take our blessings with you.
Rabbi Sonja K. Pilz, PhD is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Shalom in Bozeman, MT.