March 15, 2011, on this blog: Learning to drive
[The rabbi] discussed how few events are more significant in the life of a 16- or 17-year-old than getting their driver’s license. It’s something that American teenagers long for, look forward to and worry about for years ahead of time. And it’s something that truly, significantly changes their lives ever after.
And yet it’s a milestone, a passage, that synagogues and churches have mostly ignored.
So his congregation set out to correct that, creating a ritual and a celebration to accompany and to sacralize the life-changing moment. When members of his congregation received their driver’s licenses, the whole congregation would mark that achievement with them. I forget all the details of the ritual and celebration he described. There was a prayer to bless the driver and the vehicle, after which the new driver drove a circle around the parking lot of the synagogue seven times around to the cheers of the congregation. And then, of course, there was food — if we eat together after weddings and funerals, then it makes sense to eat together here too.