that is Kadosh, Holy. This is a time of my life when I create anew, with
less of the old possibilities, with more wisdom in the ways of the world
and my particular place in it.35
This ritual, developed by Jewish women in California in the :1980s,
brings us back full circle to the words voiced nearly two millennia ago by
that other Jew, Judah, son of Tema. He spoke of three decades--the
forties through the sixties--as a time when the individual should strive
for an increased measure of understanding, counsel, and wisdom. The
women who composed the Ma'aseh Bere'shit text have captured the
insights of Judah, as well as those uncovered by contemporary specialists, that midlife is paradoxically a time of loss, coupled with an opportunity for new beginnings and growth.
On many levels, the middle years hold out the promise that life will be
marked by greater understanding of one's inner self, deepening commitment to counsel and care for the generations that follow, and growing
wisdom to appreciate the subtleties and breadth of existence. As individuals seek to embrace these qualities, they exemplify the ways in which
midlife is a time both of celebration and renewal.
Bob Woodward and
Scott Armstrong, The Brethren: Inside the Supreme
Court ( New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979), p. 194.
Stanley Brandes, Forty: The Age and the Symbol ( Knoxville: University
of Tennessee Press, 1985), p. 4
Hayyim Schauss, The Lifetime of a Jew ( New York: Union of American
Hebrew Congregations, 1950).
See for example,
Sharon Strassfeld and
Kathy Green, The Jewish Family
Book ( New York: Bantam Books, 1981), pp. 375-395. In its both thoughtful and
whimsical survey of the life cycle of the Jew, The Second Jewish Catalog, ed. Sharon Strassfeld and
Michael Strassfeld ( Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1976), uses the term middle years as its table of contents heading for Bar
and Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, and Leaving Home. See also
ed., Gates of Mitzvah: A Guide to the Jewish Life Cycle ( New York: Central
Conference of American Rabbis, 1979).
Judith Viorst, Necessary Losses ( New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986),
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Celebration & Renewal:Rites of Passage in Judaism.
Contributors: Rela M. Geffen - Editor.
Publisher: Jewish Publication Society.
Place of publication: Philadelphia.
Publication year: 1993.
Page number: 147.
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