(To see this on video, click here. Go to five minutes before the end.)

In the Jewish tradition we have a beautiful custom that at the beginning of Shabbat, the Sabbath, on Friday night, parents place their hands on the heads of their children and offer them a blessing. 

Benediction means blessing. And so as we conclude this Commencement, and as the sun begins to set and Shabbat draws close, I invite all the parents here to focus your heart on your children. In a moment, I will ask you to offer a blessing to your children with me. 

And to the graduates, both to those whose parents are here today and to those whose parents are far away, I ask you to open your hearts to receive your parents’ blessing. For even if they are not physically with us today, their spirits join us here in blessing you.

With our hearts directed, and with all the joy and hope and promise of today, I ask you to join with me in offering the traditional blessing from the Torah:

“May God, the source of life, the source of mystery, bless you and keep you.

“May the light of God’s face shine upon you and make you glow with grace.

“May God’s face turn toward you, and give you peace.” Amen.