Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Birkat HaChammah - Blessing of the Sun - UPDATED TIME

Birkat HaChammah is one of those gems of Judiasm that I seem to discover every couple of years or so. Below is a copy of an email invitation I sent to some friends which gives the essence of the ritual. At the end of the email are some resource links to learn much more--and I encourage you to do so.

For those who are in San Francisco and looking for a service, here's the info . . .
On Wednesday morning, April 8, we as Jews will celebrate the end and beginning of the sun's cycle as it returns to it's makom, it's place at the time of creation. This little known--but getting more popular--Talmudic celebration occurs once every 28 years. In a somewhat unusual but somehow fitting convergence, this year it falls on Erev Pesach.

I invite you and anyone you think would be interested, to a Birkat HaChammah service on that Wednesday morning, April 8 at the top of Twin Peaks, taking in a full Eastern view. We will gather near the overlook, and there is plenty of parking, although I do encourage you to carpool if possible--or maybe even bike or walk if you are so inclined :) The Chabad of Noe Valley will have their service already in progress, so please be respectful of them. I will be there to find our place, so look for me. We will start to gather at 7a.m. -- I am thinking about some chanting and maybe movement as well--that part is still in formulation :) The Birkat HaChammah liturgy will start at 7:15 a.m., followed by a Shacharit service using the using the Makor Or siddur. Having never done this before, I can't say for sure, but I think the service will last no longer than an hour. For those who would like, we can adjourn afterwards to a cafe for coffee and our last bit of hamatz :)

Please let me know if you think you will be coming, and if you invite anyone and can let me know, that would be good as well. That way I can estimate how many service sheets and siddurim to make. There's plenty of parking on top of Twin Peaks. You get the the road up from Clarendon on one side and Portola on the other. Click here for a link to the Google map.

The big question is--will we see the sun, since seeing the sun is an important part of the ritual. I think that as long as it's not pouring, I'm going to be there. But I will post something on my blog by 6a.m. that morning, so you can check there. (For those of you who have noticed that I haven't written in a while--it's that time of the year when I "blog the omer" so be sure to check back starting April 10th and through to Shavuot.) You can find my blog at

I realize many of you have many questions about this whole ritual. Rather than have me regurgitate information, below you'll see four good resources
I'm not sure who is behind this site, I think it might be rabbinical students, but it's got good overview and other information.
Ritual Well is always a good place to check for both spiritual and practical takes on the holiday rituals. This page is no exception, with links to lots of articles and other resources.
An environmental view of the celebration. From their site: "We invite you to join us as we draw on Jewish sources and spirituality for wisdom to help shape changes in behavior, policy and consciousness in response to the challenge of global climate change."
Not only will you learn about the celebration, but you will experience it through an essay Rabbi Arthur Waskow wrote on the occasion of the last Birkat HaChamah on April 8, 1981.

I'm looking forward to experiencing this with many of you.

Take care,


ps Yes, I realize that the down side is the first born males among us who need to attend a siyyum so they can eat that day may not be able to join us :( May you be around 28 years from now so we can celebrate again together :)

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