Month: July 2013

A Prayer for Our Soldiers

By Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, published by United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Accessed 9 Nov. 2010, <http://uscj.org/images/iraqprayer.pdf>.

God of love, God of peace, min ha-meitzar karati Yah. Out of the depths of despair, we call to You. Our ears ring with the words “Do not fear.” But our stomachs churn with the acid of doubt. Determined to preserve our shared world from the tyranny of terrorism, we turn to You for answers, for values, for strength.

We stand before You with respect and concern for those who have been summoned to protect and secure our nation, our world. Give them the courage to meet the chilling stare of death. Show compassion to them as they seek to make the world safer for us and for those we love.

Ease the pain of their loneliness as they face the darkness of their daunting task. Let them feel Your presence as You warm the chill of their souls with the blanket of Your light. Help those far from the comfort of home to find value and meaning in their mission; that their sacrifice not be an empty act.

Let them sense the yearning of those who await their return and long for their presence — their loved ones, their parents, their children. Protect them when they find themselves in harm’s way. Salve their wounds with Your healing balm.

Melekh chafeitz ba-chayyim, Sovereign who desires life, above all protect them with Your merciful care. Return them safely to fulfill dreams unrealized so that they may bless Your name through the lives they live.

May their efforts further the cause of peace throughout the world, and bring us closer to the day when “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn of war anymore.” Amen.

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Prayer for a Mother, Whose Son is in the Military (1858)

From Fanny Neuda, Stunden der Andacht: Ein Gebet und Erbauungsbuch für Israels Frauen und Jungfrauen  [Hours of Devotion: A Prayer and Devotional Book for Women and Young Women of Israel], (Prague: Wolf Pascheles Publishing, 1858, 2nd ed.), pp. 101-102. Translated from the German by Hinda Tz. Eisen.

Almighty, Lord of Hosts, You who rule mightily in Heaven and on Earth, to You my prayer rises from a deep maternal heart. Turn Your face to me and answer me in Your Grace.

Following the call of duty, my son has joined the ranks of fighters for the Fatherland, to stand up for right and order, and to ward off evil and malice where they threaten the Fatherland and its inhabitants. Well, this is a fine, honorable profession, and I thank You, Father of All, that You gave me a child with healthy, strong limbs, capable of bearing arms in service of the Holy Fatherland; but it shakes and trembles my motherly heart when I consider the dangers and obstacles that surround him. Young and inexperienced, away from the teachings and reprimands of his parents, how difficult it will be for him not to give into the temptations of his youthful heart and to be unfaithful to his obligations and fall into sin!

Therefore I beseech You, Father of All, take him into Your mighty protection, surround him with Your overwhelming kindness. Strengthen every strong and noble feeling, every good impulse in him, that he should let every memory of the teachings of virtue and the Fear of God never go out of sight, that his soul may not harden under the hard service of the weapons, so the voices of sin will never master him. Grant him, Compassionate One, insight and strength, vigor and stamina, to meet his heavy obligations promptly, that he commit no transgression. Make him feel no false guilt, never to be misled by anything, or to shake his abounding obedience, in the self-sacrificing loyalty and devotion to his Prince and Ruler, whose flag he swore. And if the hot hour strikes, trust him out on the battlefield, where death is rampant; Father of All, envelop him with Your Grace, let Your steadfast love be his shield and armor, and pour courage into his heart. And let the memory of the fine old heroes of Israel inspire him, that he may join freely and enthusiastically in battle against his enemy. May his courage be impenetrable and bravery in his people’s honor, and may he prove his loyalty to Prince and Fatherland.

Hear, Maker of All, my prayer for him; let him be supported by my motherly blessing, as a protective banner, that he may come back again after completion of services, healing of body and mind, adorned with the sign of recognition of duty fulfilled, to the delight of my heart, for fame and glory of Your Name. Amen.

Prayer for American Military Veterans

Composed by Hinda Tzivia Eisen for Veterans’ Day, 2010.
Prayer for American Military Veterans copy

May He who blessed our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, bless [names of veterans present, and] all those who have fought in the military on behalf of our country, the United States of America, in every time and era, in every place. Bless all of our soldiers that they should be successful, for good, in all of their endeavors; strengthen them and invigorate them. May it be Your will, Lord our God and God of our ancestors, that our land should be a blessing to all the inhabitants of the world. Immerse us in friendship and freedom, and foster among us true peace, that we might bring about the words written by the hand of Your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” And let us say: Amen.

Installation Prayer

By Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut
as published in Rabbi Morrison David Bial (ed.), An Offering of Prayer: Prayers and Meditations Private and Public (Summit, NJ: Temple Sinai of Summit, 1962) p. 51. Adapted by Hinda Tz. Eisen, 2013.

O Lord, Our God, we thank You for Your countless mercies. For the incomparable gift of love that comes to us from family and friends and from these, Your children, to whose service we dedicate our lives.

We need Your help, O God; since without You the burden is heavy, and the tablets of Your commandments weigh us down.

But when Your writing is clear and Your spirit upon it, the burden is lifted, the tablets take on wings and the commandments carry us on high.

Help us, O God, to follow in the way which we have been taught, which our parents gave us as their greatest gift.

Teach us, O Lord, to follow the path of Joseph, our forefather, always to say like him: “I seek my brothers.”

We need Your help to walk the way before us with surety and confidence, the way already paved by great leaders who stood here and who served Your people.

Help us to be true clergy*- a teacher to old and young, to be a friend and counsellor to this holy congregation.

Help us to speak where silence is cheap; help us to be ever sensitive to the heartbeat of our fellow man;

Help us to preserve our balance in the swirl of human enterprise; help us to teach Your Torah, thus to magnify You day and night, until the end of our days.

Amen.

* The original text says “a true Rabbi” instead of “clergy,” but I wanted it to be accessible to all new clergy – cantors, too!

A Prayer for Our Teachers

By Rabbi Albert G. Baum
as published in Rabbi Morrison David Bial (ed.), An Offering of Prayer: Prayers and Meditations Private and Public (Summit, NJ: Temple Sinai of Summit, 1962) p. 64. Adapted by Hinda Tz. Eisen, 2013.

O Lord our God — If our lips were filled with song and our tongues with words of constant praise, we would still be unable to thank You for the many blessings that You bestow upon us daily.

We sing Your praise for the masters and teachers in Israel, for our educators who help us understand that the universe, that You have given us as a home, is founded on law and order, harmony and peace.

May Your spirit ever inspire our teachers, poets, and writers of songs so that they may help us wipe out the ugliness, strife, suffering, and cruelty that mar the beauty and goodness of Your universe.

Enable Your servants to speak clearly and knowingly so that all people everywhere can learn to do Your will, with one common purpose.

Bless the endeavors of all who strive to bring knowledge and understanding into the world and into the hearts of people everywhere.

May our songs of praise always be upon our lips.

Amen.

Before Beginning Local Humanitarian Work

By Rabbi Louis J. Swichkow, “Invocation for Women’s Group”
as published in Rabbi Morrison David Bial (ed.), An Offering of Prayer: Prayers and Meditations Private and Public (Summit, NJ: Temple Sinai of Summit, 1962) p. 65. Adapted by Hinda Tz. Eisen, 2013.

Eternal God, Supreme Creator:

Gathered on behalf of our people’s cause and humanitarian ideals, we ask Your blessings, upon the work of our hands.

Grant us discernment and guidance in all our avenues of activity. Enable us to discharge our responsibilities diligently and faithfully, with sincerity of purpose and accompanying our every deed. Bless our endeavors to bring a measure of salvation and rehabilitation to our brothers and sisters.

Please keep our beloved country safe and secure, free from every enemy, internal and external. Inspire the citizens of this land of the free to fully appreciate the precious rights and privileges they have been destined to enjoy. Cause Your precepts of brotherly love, loving-kindness, and tolerance to motivate their pattern of life. May their common objective ever be the endowment of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all the inhabitants of our land.

Strengthen us, together with lovers of freedom everywhere, to contribute our share in hastening the arrival of that long-awaited era when justice will flow like a mighty stream and universal peace will be the everlasting inheritance of all Your children.

Amen.

The Music of Humanity

By Rev. Jacob Trapp
as published in Rabbi Morrison David Bial (ed.), An Offering of Prayer: Prayers and Meditations Private and Public (Summit, NJ: Temple Sinai of Summit, 1962) p. 60. Adapted by Hinda Tz. Eisen, 2013.

God of Love teach us to see in all people our kin, and in all children our own. Teach us that none can be so far away in this world as not to be our neighbor, none so unlike us as not to be our kin. Thus may understanding and good-will grow among us, toward our peace and Your glory and the music of humanity made whole.

Amen.