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Rainbow Day, יום ברית הקשת
Remember the Rainbow Covenant on Shabbat Noach, Shabbat Behar and Rainbow Day!
Celebrate Rainbow Day and the Rainbow Covenant with all life!
In the Rainbow Day curriculum, you'll find Torah, prayers and liturgies, midrashim about rainbows, lesson plans about seed-saving, learning from Hoshea and Ezekiel, Kabbalah and midrash, and project ideas—40 in all—that you can use to celebrate the Rainbow covenant on Shabbat Behar (May 3-4 in 2013), on Rainbow Day (May 7-8 in 2013), and on Shabbat Noach (Oct 4-5 in 2013), and every week. The Rainbow Covenant with all life is the first covenant of the Torah. In 2013, Rainbow Day, when the covenant was made, comes the week after Shabbat Behar-Behukotai. (You can download in-depth study sheets on the connection between the Rainbow covenant and the Sinai/Shmitah covenant with the land that is found in that week's parshah here. Go to the Shmita Project to learn more about Shmita.)
Download the 2013 Rainbow Day curriculum. It includes: Rainbow and Shmitah covenant Torah texts, poetry for kids, liturgy and midrash, frogs, mikveh, the dangers of triclosan (found in anti-bacterial soap), hydrofracking in Israel, and much more. A table of contents with a list of all 40 modules, along with the ages each is appropriate for, can be found below. Many individual modules have study sheets, articles, and lesson plans that you can download directly below. You can add your ideas to this curriculum too: write to R' David Seidenberg of neohasid.org (rebduvid86 at gmail.com). Every year we add a link to one of the issues found in the curriculum here: Learn about fracking in Israel. New to this year's download: all the url's are live links that you can click. Lastly, don't leave this page without listening to the Brit/Hoshea song -- scroll to the very bottom and hit the play button!
What is Rainbow Day?
On the 27th day of the second month, Noah, his family, and all the animals that were with them left the ark (Genesis 8). Exactly one lunar year and ten days before—one complete solar year—the flood began on the 17th of the second month, the day before Lag B’Omer. When Noah, the animals and his family went out from the ark, God made a covenant, with all the animals and the people, that there would never be again be a flood of water to destroy life on Earth. Rainbow Day is always the 42nd day of the Omer, the day after Yom Yerushalayim. Other days connected the Rainbow Covenant include Shabbat Noach and Shabbat Behar.
Why is the Rainbow Covenant important?
The Rainbow Covenant is a time to celebrate the diversity of life on Earth, and to remember our role in God’s covenant with all Creation. It is a time to remember that the first covenant was not with human beings but with all living creatures. It is a chance to reflect on the deep spiritual and religious meaning of diversity, creation, and our role as part of creation and partners with God.
What is the message of the Rainbow Covenant?
The Torah teaches that God has promised never to flood the Earth again. But that doesn’t mean humanity can’t “flood the Earth” and harm life. We live in a time when many species have gone extinct or are threatened with extinction. Our civilization is using so much of the world’s land and resources that we don’t always leave room for the other creatures. And the climate is changing. As the African-American spiritual goes, “God gave Noah the Rainbow sign, no more water, the fire next time!” The story of Noah and the Flood teaches us that we have a responsibility to care for all creation and all creatures, and that caring for all species is a mark of righteousness.
What can you do to celebrate the Rainbow Covenant?
The resources here will include ideas for teachers and educators, for kids and adults, for rabbis and prayer leaders, gardeners and meditators, for Torah study, science study, and for action. Find a venue where you can make a difference and use one of these modules. We suggest that you leave a few moments after whatever activity you use for teaching the traditional blessing for seeing a rainbow:
Blessed be You YHVH, our God. . .who remembers the covenant.
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha`olam zokher et habrit.
You can use also these materials on Shabbat Noach, Shabbat Beh!r, or other days!
Download the 2013 Rainbow Day curriculum!
You can also incorporate ideas you'll find here into the observance of Yom Yerushalayim, or as part of Lag B’Omer or for anytime of the Omer, etc. Or use them in religious schools in the week following Shabbat Behar or anytime. Whether you do something in a group, a synagogue, with friends or on your own, make Rainbow Day special.
Here is a prayer that you can use for Rainbow Day (longer version with vowels is found below, and this version with vowels is found in the curriculum as well):
אל מלא רחמים God full of compassion,
זכור בריתך עמ כל החיים remember Your covenant with all life,
ברית מי נח the covenant of the waters of Noah.
ופרוש סכת רחמים ושלום Spread a Sukkah of compassion & peace
עלינו ועל כל מיני החיים over us, over all Life's species.
הקיף כלם יוחסינו Surround all our relations
בזיו השכינה with Shekhinah's radiance,
בנחל עדניך תשקם Water them with Your river of delights
בכל מושבותהם in all of their habitats.
ואז ישוב עץ החיים Then the Tree of Life will be restored
לאיתנו הראשון to its original strength,
ונראתה הקשת בענן and 'the bow will appear in the cloud'
שש ומתפאר בגוונין joyful and beautified with its colors,
ותזכנו אנחנו וצאצינו so that we and our descendants may merit
לישב ימים רבים על האדמה to live many days on Earth,
כימי שמים על הארץ like days of the Skies over the Land.
More thoughts on the Rainbow Covenant:
According to Kabbalah, Rainbow Day is also the day of Malkhut in Yesod, a unity of masculine and feminine that represents a milestone on the way to the revelation of Shavuot. For us, it can represent a chance to commit ourselves to the rainbow covenant, to turn from actions that destroy the earth, to turn our lives away from unraveling earth's climate and the web of life, from diminishing earth's abundance.
The rainbow signified a new covenant between God and the land. It's time for us to imagine a new covenant between humanity and the Earth, including the land and the seas, one that we start to live by as we change our lifestyles and habits. We can use the covenantal vision of the Shmitah year in Leviticus 25 to help guide our steps. And maybe next year it will be time to celebrate that new covenant.
Rainbow Day is pregnant with ritual possibilities related to the elements, to the midpoint between equinox and solstice, to the time between the fire of Lag B'Omer and the fire of Sinai, to global warming, to healing the waters, to the growing wheat crop in the land of Israel, and to all the meanings related to the journey from freedom to revelation. And rainbows are a symbol of diversity: the diversity of colors, of people, and of all life.
♦ Here are some of the organizations that have contributed resources (starred organizations are members of the Green Hevra):
Thanks also to: Isabella Freedman Retreat Center* Jewish Reconstructionist Movement* Eden Village Camp* Organic Torah Tikkun Schechter Day School Network EcoJews of the Bay Green Zionist Alliance* Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life* Jewish Greening Fellowship* Hazon* Urban Adamah* Wilderness Torah* Adamah*