This Ritual Life Archive

Welcome to This Ritual Life.

Here you will find out about ways to enhance your holiday experience, to celebrate or mark a meaningful life cycle event, and to deepen your experience of the everyday. Our authors are especially interested in hearing your responses to what they have written. So after reading, visit the Ritual Life discussion forum where you can join in conversation with CLAL faculty and other readers.

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The lessons we teach can live on after us. In writing an ethical will, a traditional Jewish practice, we can spell out the values that we hope our loved ones will embody in their lives. One day this intimate letter written to our ancestors will pass into the hands of those we leave behind. In the meantime, writing it will remind us of those values we strive to live by.


Help me to express the deepest and most important values that I seek to embody in my own life and to transmit to my loved ones. And when the time comes, may my loved ones receive my words and may they be sustained and strengthened on their lifelong journeys.


Set aside some private time, taking a few minutes to center yourself. Reflect upon the sacred purpose that is at hand. Begin composing your ethical will. (You can write, tape or video it.)

These questions can help you get started: What are the important things you have learned in life? What traits do you admire most in others? What important work have you begun that you hope your ancestors can complete?

You need not finish the ethical will in a single session. You can redo or revise it as the years pass. Feel free to re-read it from time to time, drawing strength of purpose from it. It is, after all, your own ethical mission statement.

When complete, place your ethical will with your most important papers. You might want to attach it to your legal will so it will be found at the proper time.


(When you have written the first, or subsequent draft of your ethical will: )

Blessed is the One who enables me to grasp and express the ideals that are my life and my soul.


And these words…shall be in your heart, and you shall teach them to your children. (Deuteronomy 31)

…love is stronger than death… (Song of Songs)

Creator of all, You remember the mentchlichkeit of our ancestors, lovingly redeeming their children and grandchildren. (adapted from Amidah)

The best thing for you, my children, is to serve God from your heart, without falsehood or sham… (Gluckel of Hameln)

Hadran alekha

I shall return to you

(CLAL faculty)

CLAL's National Jewish Resource Center develops and publishes rituals that help to bridge the gap between our contemporary lives and the ancient wisdom of the Jewish tradition.

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