Prayer for Synagogue Leadership

By The Hon. Lily H. Montagu, 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. 50. Adapted by Hinda Tz. Eisen Labovitz, 2014.

Almighty Father, we pray to You with faith in Your directing power and in Your eternal love.  We humbly ask You to accept this Synagogue as an offering unto You. Let Your blessing be upon it. Grant that those who come to worship here may come in a spirit of humility and filled with love for a living Judaism. May they find here consolation in times of trouble, courage and hope when in doubt or difficulty, and when in joy, the consecration of their happiness.

O God, please reveal to those who pray in this place the way to righteousness, justice, truth, and peace. Let the men and women, young people and children who gather here in sincerity in ever greater numbers, receive Your instruction through study and service, and strive to share Your diving light with all seekers.

Place Your blessing, we pray, on the leadership of this synagogue, and on all who come to work with them for the welfare of its members and for all humanity.

Quicken the faith of all who worship in this House of Prayer, that they may know full well that Your presence is int heir midst now and forevermore.



The Ultimate Forgiveness

Cantor Hinda Eisen Labovitz
For Selichot with Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County and Ohr Kodesh Congregation

In this season, we request absolution from our fellows, and request absolution from God.  Though our human and divine community gives us the opportunity to repent our transgressions, too often do we withhold forgiveness from ourselves.

Let us each say,

As I go into the new year, let me give myself a new beginning.
As I recall my own past mistakes and transgressions, let me achieve a place of self-understanding.
Before I feel embarrassment or shame from the memory of a misdeed, let me truly be able to say “I have forgiven myself for that,” and let me be able to move on.

Ribono Shel Olam – Master of the Universe! As I am created in Your image, and You are a loving God who gives me the opportunity to repent and gives me the gift of Your forgiveness, help me embody You, and learn this year to forgive myself.

Prayer for a Mother Whose Child is Abroad

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.

“The Lord will keep you from all evil; God will keep your soul.” (Psalm 121:7)

All-Gracious God—far from his parental home, far from his mother’s care and concern, my child lives in a foreign land, and I, who would find delight in watching over his health, in guarding his every step, in lavishing my undying love and faithfulness on him, am separated from him. My eye, my hand, my voice cannot reach him. I can but pray to You, my God, for his welfare and deliverance.

O Merciful One, hear the fervent supplication of my heart; take my child into Your almighty protection, lead him safely over every rock and thorn in his path. Endow him with such charms and grace, with such prudent modest and deportment, that he will win the hearts of everyone he meets. Procure for him the friendship and benevolence of his neighbors, and thus turn the foreign land into a home for him.

Preserve the health and vigor of his body and soul. Guard him against evil, calamity, and danger. Allow his soul to remain pure and clear and cleave in childlike innocence and piety to all that is noble and divine, that his eye and demeanor may ever be a brilliant mirror of his unblemished heart.
O God, grant him strength and calm, energy and perseverance to attend to and fulfill all the tasks he undertakes, that they may be a blessing and a beacon for him and make his life happy and contented.
Help him conquer all troubles and obstacles, and grant him all that may assist in his present and future welfare.

O Father of All, hear my fervent prayer and bring my child back to me, at the right time, full of joy and the vigor of life, to be the pride and delight of my heart, a blessing to all, and pleasing in your sight, my God and Sovereign. Amen.

Who But I (by George Oliver)

Who But I?
by George Oliver

Who but I 
Could sing of the things He’s done 
Beholding this rising sun 
Remembering victories won
Considering stars He’s flung 
Standing in awe of mysteries that stun me into 
This posture of worship 
Bend my back with bowed down head 
Drop down tears for fears unsaid 
In attempts to kiss the feet of one once dead 
Who lives again 
Frees from sin 
Lifts me then he tells me, “Win this race, My child, 
Because life is funny, 
And only a while 
So run with grace…and style 
Showing them you’re Mine 
And, as it just so happens 
Your internal light 
Lit by Eternal Flame 
Shall never go out 
Should never be hid 
Will drive out the dark 
If you do as I did and shine…child of Mine.” 
Who but I 
Could tell this story 
In stammering tongues 
About things so gory 
But rest there not 
For they end in glory 
Oh, those midnight cries 
Gave way to mid-day shouts 
And in Spirit I danced about 
Forgetting the rain 
And the pain 
The stain on my soul 
Because He turned it 
A badge 
A seal 
A vow 
A tribute 
That I willingly, gladly 
Give back to Him 
Yet something more 
Not merely the inscription 
Penned by the ink of my days 
But all of who I am 
The redeeming of my ways 
Yield I to Him, who knows no end 
And in His word, in His dying, in my wrongness 
Still calls me friend…

Who but I 
Should return to that river 
And pick up the harp 
Since the hour of weeping has now past 
A summer’s heat replaces a winter’s blast 
And we children of Zion rejoice 
We give voice 
To our mother’s song 
That she clenched in her throat 
Or father’s beat 
That he taught us by rote 
An undying hymn 
Encasing enduring themes 
Of ethereal hopes 
For unattained dreams 
That God showed them of our day 
To liberate intoxicated minds 
To loosen psychological chains that keep us in binds 
To love strange people of all human kinds 
To listen to those troubled until peace their heart finds 
To lift some brother’s burdens before his life unwinds 
To-day, To Dei we pray 
To keep us in the way of His commands 
To keep us in the way of His desires 
To keep us in the way of the unjust 
As they trample over the weak 
To keep us in the way of broken hearts 
Before their love refuge seeks 
In defiling embrace of the cold-cold world 
Ending up curled in some corner alone 
Lead us with the light that You’ve shown 
To uncover their hiding place 
Give us Your saving grace 
To fill up their empty space 
And mine 
God of our years weary 
God, when in silence teary 
We stood at Your throne 
You never left us alone 
So here now we pause… 
In this house our ancestors imagined 
In this land that You delivered us to 
Then delivered us from 
Just to carry us to bear Your light in their house white 
In this world, in which more knees bow at the name of God 
Than any other 
We pause… 
Because Your name’s so sweet 
It brings stillness to our feet 
As we first meet Your fragrance 
For You, holy, holy, holy Lord, have entered in 
And we await Your voice as You speak

Who but I 
Could upward bend my spirit to shout Your praise 
Who but I 
Could celestially send these sounds of mine 
These tunes so fine 
These musical sips of wine 
Lifted to Your divine chambers above 
Who but I 
Could take from a cruel world 
Its irascible heat 
And transform these fires 
Into soul-saving beats 
Into wrought words of worship 
Into wisdom that won’t die 
Into Thy will be done 
Into wells that never dry 
Who but I 
Could strum the strings of swing 
Who but I would compel some voice to sing 
Who but I 
Could yield breath for trumps to sound 
Or stretch hands and feet on organs 
For Your glory to come down 
And bless this ground 
Where which we stand 
Or sound high cymbals at Your command 
Who but I 
Could forget my failings for just one day 
And exalt Your perfection 
In this new way 
For the breath is mine 
And burning hot within my lungs 
I breathe it out 
And bid Your Spirit come 
To saturate this air 
To lighten loads and lift our cares 
And leave us changed 
Though You do not 
Who but I…but we 
Could praise this God with all we’ve got?