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“Light out of darkness: you spoke, and it was.”

—Rosh haShanah liturgy

A Plan for the Beginning

Begin with a spark: an unseen wheel across the deep, then a flash of shining wingtip in the dark. Carve a crescent from the void. Begin with a mark.

Begin with a thread: a line of motion like a song writing on time’s first moment with its tread. Begin with a channel for birth and let it spread.

Begin with a rite, a rune of air and softness, fire and mind, and call the net to catch its coming night. Turn nothing into waiting for a word. Begin with light. [End Page 161]

Jill Hammer

Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, is cofounder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute ( and Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion ( She is the new poetry submissions coeditor for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and author of academic articles, poems, rituals, and stories, and of eight books, including Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women (2001), The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons (2006), The Omer Calendar of Biblical Women (2011), The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership (with Taya Shere, 2015), and the poetry volume The Book of Earth and Other Mysteries (2016). She lives in Manhattan with her wife and daughter.



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