Lifecycle & Ritual

A new learning is about to be born - rather it has been born.... A learning that no longer starts from the Torah and leads into life, but the other way round: from life, from a world that knows nothing of the Law or pretends to know nothing, back into the Torah.... In being Jews, we must not renounce anything, not give anything up, but lead everything back to Judaism. From the periphery to the center; from the outside, in.

– Franz Rosenzweig, 1929

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As a rabbinical student, I listened to a lecture you gave upon the publication of Lifecycles Volume 2. The timing of your presentation couldn’t have been better for my growth as a rabbi. You showed me that Judaism has a rich tradition of ritual and that those ritual acts are not bound to a particular text, a sole purpose or a specific individual. When the essence of a ritual is understood, it can be transformed so that the core meaning can be applied to new settings, and liturgies can be written to match. This new understanding was a gift that I use often in my counseling. I find myself providing those in distress with access to the tool of ritual to mark ends, celebrate beginnings, and honor what was seemingly mundane.

- Rabbi Tracy Kaplowitz

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Click on the photo to order

Resources on Lifecycle (apart from Rabbi Debra’s books):

Jewish Rites of Death and Mourning 

Tallit: The Prayer Shawl Throughout Life and Lifecycle


The Truth in a Name:  The Meanings of Names and of Changing a Name


Speaking About The Unspeakable - a discussion of sexual abuse from an op-ed in the NJ Jewish Standard.

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Click on the photo for article or click here for whole book.

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"I was very moved by your approach to ritual, your insight into ways to bring holiness into secular events, and your capacity to articulate what people experience, and lift it into a Jewish context. Truly, you have a gift.

- Rabbi John L. Rosove,

Temple Israel of Hollywood

“I am pleased that you were our featured speaker at the milestone event for our school. The theme, “Raising Spiritually Fulfilled Children,” is such an important one, and you address the topic with so much knowledge, wisdom, and humor! The group of parents who gathered together that night were very interested and appreciative of all you had to say. Thank you so much for your contribution to a wonderful night.”

–Sheva Locke, Head of School, Valley Beth Shalom Day School, Encino, CA

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To contact Rabbi Debra about engaging her as a guest speaker or scholar-in-residence please visit the Speaking & Events page and use our special inquiry form.

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P.O. Box 345, Emerson, NJ 07630

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