Tag: Prayer

A Prayer for the People of Haiti

A prayer for the people of Haiti, 

who, on a good day, 
must take heroic measures

just to wake the next, 

And who must now find a way 

to live through the end of the world: 

O Compassionate One,
whose relief work is beyond our capabilities 

Breathe life today into those buried alive 

and strengthen the response capacity
 of Your relief workers in this world

To hear those who have yet to be saved,
To hear those who have been saved
but whose limbs and lives are crushed,
To hear those who pray
For those who can no longer pray for themselves.

O Source of Speech,
embedded in the language of love, 

Fortify the souls of those who call out now in rescue

O Life Force,
expressed in the language of loss, 

Send strength to those who, with their last strength 

Now seek nothing more than finding loved ones 

A prayer for the people of Haiti,
who on this day
take heroic measures 
just to survive, 

And with the world’s help,
Will find a way
to live into 
an new world,
Though one rebuilt
on the rubble of unfathomable loss.

O Source of Response to need, 

Be the blessing

Of prayers realized.

And we say: Amen

Adapted by Rabbi Shawn Zevit from a prayer by Bradley Burston, Israel News 

With thanks to the Union for Reform Judaism for sharing this resource with me

My favorite place to donate to help Haitians is the Reform Movement Haiti Relief Fund:

In the wake of the horrific destruction that has hit Haiti, our national organization, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), has opened its disaster relief fund to aid those devastated by the severe earthquake. With a still-unimaginable number of casualties, relief and support is being directed to help rescue and recovery efforts scale up rapidly. A number of our partner organizations are already on the ground or on their way to provide assistance. Donations to the Union for Reform Judaism Haiti Relief Fund can be made online at www.urj.org/relief or by sending a check to Union for Reform Judaism, Attention: Development, 633 Third Avenue, 7th floor, New York, NY, 10017.

Background: Our Reform Jewish community has a long history of generosity when natural disasters devastate communities, when houses of worship burn in the fires of racial prejudice, when terrorism causes havoc, and when other disasters cause untold harm across the planet. In such times, the Union for Reform Judaism activates the Union Disaster Fund for contributions, which are then forwarded to appropriate agencies. In recent years the Union Disaster Relief Fund has provided help to the victims September 11, floods in Europe, earthquakes in South America and Southeast Asia, Black churches that were burned in Southern United States and the Grand Forks community when it flooded. In the wake of the hurricanes that battered the Gulf Coast in 2005, more than $3 million in donated funds were raised to help the victims and agencies that are assisting them and the congregations of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Florida.The Union for Reform Judaism is a member of the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, which allows a unified Jewish response to natural and man-made crises that occur outside of North America.

Yachatz: The Middle Matzah of Brokenness (a New Ritual)

Haggadah Insert for Use during this Financial Depression
By Rabbi Paul Kipnes,
Congregation Or Ami, Calabasas, CA
With help from Rabbinic Student Ilana Mills
Formatted copy here.

Pass out copies and read before other Yachatz readings. The leader takes out the middle Matzah, breaks it in two and holds up both pieces.

Reader 1: At every Passover seder, we break the middle matzah. In a few moments, we will put the larger piece aside for the Afikoman or dessert. Usually, we place the smaller piece back between the two whole Matzot, as we prepare to remember our ancestors’ lives as slaves in Egypt. Tonight, however, we delay the second part of the ritual so we can consider the brokenness in our world.

Everyone: Tonight, throughout our country and our world, and even perhaps around our Seder table, people are experiencing more brokenness than in recent memory. Younger and older; working, unemployed and retired; singles and couples, and families of all configurations – so many lives have been damaged by the economic depression and uncertainty about the future. Unlike the middle matzah broken on purpose, they find that a series of financial decisions – some made by them, some out of their control – have shattered their economic security.

Reader 2: Tonight, different than in previous years, we take this second piece of matzah and crumble it here (on a plate or on the tablecloth) to remind us of how amidst the current financial crisis, the world seems to be crumbling around so many people. Like the glass broken at a wedding which reminds us of the tireless work the couple must do to escape shattering their marriage, this crumbled matzah reminds us of all the work we must do to help others whose lives are shattering.

Everyone: As we stare at this crumbled middle matzah, let us pause to consider the pain of lives crumbling around us. So many feel so alone. So many experience despair. Like our Israelite ancestors felt before Moses and Miriam came to set them free, our people today despair over the difficulties in repairing the brokenness of their lives.

Reader 3: Our ancestors, slaves of Pharaoh, survived the oppression in Egypt. Helping each other, holding each other up, they walked through the Yam Suf (the Red Sea). With persistence and determination, they passed through those difficult times. And we all can too. If we help each other. If we remember to open our hearts, open our wallets, open our community. If we welcome in and support those in need, those who are no longer strangers to financial struggle. And so we say together:


Ha lach-ma an-ya di a-cha-lu a-va-ha-ta-na b’ar’a d’mitz-ra-yim. This is the bread of affliction our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat; Let all who are in need come share our Passover. This year here, next year in Israel. Today bound; tomorrow free.

3 Rabbis to Offer Prayers at Obama Inauguration Service

JTA broke the news a few days ago in the Jewish world that 3 rabbis

Reform Rabbi David Saperstein, Conservative Rabbi Jerome Epstein and Orthodox Rabbi Haskel Lookstein are scheduled to take part in the Jan. 21 event at the National Cathedral in Washington… Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, offered a prayer on the night Obama accepted the Democratic nomination at last summer’s convention in Denver.

Haaretz comes to highlight the higher profile that religion is playing in the Democratic world and in this first African-American President’s inauguration. After a politically astute, yet very disappointing decision to invite the upcoming dean of the Christian Right world, and strong marriage equality opponent Rick Warren, President-elect Obama is offering some very significant invitations:

… Obama asked V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, to lead prayers at Sunday’s kickoff for the inauguration at the Lincoln Memorial. Gay rights groups rejoiced, while some conservative Christians wrung their hands.

Then at the January 21 National Prayer Service that caps the inauguration:

The Reverand Sharon Watkins, the first woman president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a Protestant group, will deliver the sermon.

A prayer will be offered at the National Cathedral by Ingrid Mattson, the first woman president of the Islamic Society of North America, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information. The Islamic Society, based in Indiana, is the nation’s largest Muslim group.

Prayers for Peace

As the war in Gaza intensifies, let us offer these prayers. Each comes from a colleague in Israel:

The first, from a colleague in Israel, Moshe Yehudai, Raanana:

Dear Friends,

Regardless of your political views, I call you at this moment, a few hours after the beginning of the ground incursion to Gaza, as ever, to be sensitive to human life, who are now in such a tremendous danger.

Jews and Arabs, men and women, young and old, soldiers and civilians – they are all created in the image of God. – This is my fundamental belief, and my fundamental prayer is that the bloodshed will be minimal.

Oseh shalom bimromav, hoo yaaseh shalom aleynu, al kol israel, al kol Yishmael ve’al kol bney adam. May the One who makes peace in the High Heavens, bring peace to us, to all Israel, to all Yishmael (Isaac’s step-brother, the father of Muslims) and to all people.

Another prayer:

A Prayer for Times of War
by Rabbi Yehoram Mazor, Av Beit Ha’Din of MARAM, Israel

May the Everlasting One who blessed our ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah bless all the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces and all those who are protecting our people. May the Source of Blessing protect them and free them from all trouble and anxiety, and may all they do be blessed. May God send safety and redemption to all our soldiers in captivity.

May the Eternal have mercy on them and bring them from darkness to light and from enslavement to salvation, give them strength and save them. May the Eternal listen to all the prayers of our people.

Merciful God, may Your compassion be with us, and remember Your covenant with Abraham. May you spread the covering of Your peace over the descendants of Ishmael, son of Hagar, and over the descendants of Isaac, son of Sarah, and may it be fulfilled that they shall hammer their swords into spades and their spear into plowshare. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation and they shall learn war no more. And each shall sit under their vines and their fig trees and none shall disturb them.

And let us say: Amen