J ewish Parent Page Bedtime Blessings

Parent Page
The Jewish Parent Page
is a publication of the
Union for Reform Judaism
and is written by
Barbara Binder Kadden, RJE,
[email protected]
25 Kislev-2 Tevet
“Into God’s hand I
entrust my spirit when
I go to sleep.”
—from Adon Olam
Bedtime Blessings
Chanukah is our mid-winter festival of lights. It commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over
their oppressors—the Syrian-Greeks—who had forbidden Jewish worship, ritual and study.
Chanukah celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, reclaimed and cleansed by the
Our daily Chanukah celebration begins each night with the kindling of the special nine-branch
Chanukah menorah. Families gather around the chanukiyah to sing the blessings and songs, to eat
latkes and other Chanukah treats, and to exchange gifts. This is special family time. Continue the
warmth and connection of your family’s Chanukah ritual with a bedtime that includes Jewish
prayers, blessings and songs.
B’rachot, Blessings:
Their Meaning and Message
In this issue, we suggest Jewish prayers and blessings to
incorporate into your bedtime ritual. Many of the prayers
included in the Bedtime Sh’ma are not blessings but prayers,
poems and excerpts from other works. In the paragraph of the
Sh’ma that begins, “V’ahavta—You shall love,” we are told to
speak the words “when you lie down.” (Deuteronomy 6:7) The
Rabbis of the Talmud derive an additional rationale for the
ritual from a verse in the book of Psalms:“Reflect in your hearts
while on your beds and be utterly silent.” (Psalms 4:5)
Family Discussion
What does it mean to reflect in your own heart?
Why is bedtime a good time to reflect and think?
How can what we think about at bedtime influence how we think and behave during the day?
What wishes, hopes and dreams do you like to think about as you go to sleep?
How might the advice of the verse from Psalms help someone go to sleep at night?
Each issue of Volume IX of The Jewish Parent Page will focus on b’rachot, the blessings of Jewish
life, that are thematically connected to the Jewish holidays. For more information on the
holidays and how to celebrate them, access past volumes of The Jewish Parent Page at
The Bedtime Blessings Kriyat Sh’ma al ha Mitah
Traditionally, the Bedtime Sh’ma includes these prayers and blessings:
• HaMapil—This blesses God, who “casts the bonds of sleep upon one’s eyes.”
• Sh’ma—This prayer declares the oneness of God.
• V’ahavta—The first paragraph of the Sh’ma lists a variety of mitzvot, which include loving God, teaching one’s
children and affixing a mezuzah to the doorposts.
• P’sukim—These are a variety of verses from the Bible and prayer book that emphasize God
as a protector.
• Adon Olam—This is a liturgical poem attributed to Rabbi Solomon ibn Gabirol that praises God
as Sovereign, Creator, Infinite and All-Powerful.
The Shulchan Aruch, a code of Jewish law written in the 16th century by Rabbi Joseph Caro,
teaches that saying the Bedtime Sh’ma before going to sleep is a kind of protection against the dangers of the night.
Family Activities
for Bedtime Blessings
• “Bedtime Blessings” wall hanging—Using fabric
or paper, create a poster or wall hanging with your child.
Include the blessings and prayers for the Bedtime Sh’ma, a
decorate it with symbols of the nighttime sky.
Hang the finished product over your child’s bed.
• Chanukah night light—Follow the directions at
using a Chanukah card or a picture that your child has drawn
to decorate the lamp shade.
• Bedtime prayerbook—Cut and paste prayers into a
notebook or on note cards attached with a ring to create
your own bedtime prayer book.
Get Woven Into the Jewish Web
From the Union for Reform Judaism, Jewish bedtime rituals for young children
A sampling of bedtime prayers
An article by Rabbi Daniel Gropper on creating family bedtime rituals
Creating a Family Bedtime Ritual
Choose from the ideas below to create your own ritual. Recite the prayers and readings, or choose your favorite tunes.
A blessing at bedtime
Begin with this prayer from On the Doorposts of Your House: Prayers and Ceremonies for the Jewish Home.
Creator of day and night, thank You for this good world.Thank You for the day. I was so busy! Now I am tired,
and I thank you for sleep.Bless my family and friends, all those I love, all who love me. May my dreams be
pleasant, and may I wake up with a smile, ready for the new day. For all that I have learned this day, I thank and
praise You.
Adon Olam
Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.
Listen, Israel, Adonai is our God, Adonai is One.
God is the eternal God, who
reigned before any being had yet
been created; when all was done
according to God’s will, already
then God’s name was Ruler. And
after all has ceased to be, still
will God reign in solitary
majesty; God was, God is and
God shall be in glory. And God is
One; none other can compare to
God or consort with God; God
is without beginning, without
end; to God alone belong power
and dominion. And God is my
God, my living Redeemer, my
Rock in time of trouble and
distress; God is my banner and
my refuge, my benefactor when I
call. Into God’s hands I entrust
my spirit, when I sleep and when
I wake. And with my spirit and
my body, Adonai is with me; I will
not be afraid.
Baruch shem k’vod malchuto l’olam va-ed.
Blessed is God’s glory forever and ever!
Hashkiveinu Adonai Eloheinu l’shalom
V’ha-amideinu malkeinu l’chayim.
Ufros aleinu sukat shlomecha.
Traditional translation:
Grant, O Eternal God, that we may lie down in peace, and
raise us up O Sovereign, to life renewed. Spread over us the
shelter of your peace.
Adaptation by Josh Zweiback and Larry Jonas:
Shelter us beneath thy wings, O Adonai
Guard us from all harmful things, O Adonai
Keep us safe throughout the night
’Til we wake with morning’s light
Teach us, God, wrong from right. Amen
—From Shireinu: Our Songs—A Songbook for Camps,
Conclaves, Kallot and Retreats; URJ and NFTY
A prayer for protection at night
In which the angels are said to surround and protect us
May the angel Michael be at my right hand,
And Gabriel at my left,
Before me Uriel,
Behind me Raphael,
And above my head Shechinah, the Divine Presence.
A Jewish Family’s Bookshelf
For children:
The Perfect Prayer
by Donald Rossoff; illustrated by Tammy L. Keiser; URJ Press; ages 4-8
Thank You, God! A Jewish Child’s Book of Prayers
by Judyth Groner and Madeline Wikler; illustrated by Shelly O. Haas; Kar-Ben Publishing; ages 4-8
Blessed Are You:Traditional Everyday Hebrew Prayers
by Michelle Edwards; Harper Collins Children’s Books; ages 5-8
Good Night, Lilah Tov
by Michelle Shapiro Abraham; illustrated by Selina Alko; URJ Press; ages infant-4
A Year of Jewish Stories: 52 Tales for Children and Their Families
by Grace Ragues Maisel and Samantha Shubert; illustrated by Tammy L. Keiser; URJ Press
Hello, Hello, Are You There, God?
by Molly Cone; illustrated by Rosalind Charney Kaye; URJ Press; ages 4-8
For adults:
Parenting as a Spiritual Journey: Deepening Ordinary & Extraordinary Events Into Sacred Occasions
by Rabbi Nancy FuchsKreimer; Jewish Lights Publishing (see Chapter 13: Bedtime)
Shiru Shir Chadash Sing a New Song
Good Night, Good Morning: Jewish Children’s Songs for Daytime and Bedtime;
Transcontinental Music Publications
Days of Wonder, Nights of Peace: Family Prayers in Song for Morning and Bedtime
by Mah Tovu; Behrman House, Inc.