Friday, September 18, 2015

Rabbi Schwartz's Rosh Hashanah Prayer 5776


Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz

Eloheinu, velohei avotenu

Our God, God of all generations:

Help us to thoughtfully reflect on the year just past, and to courageously embrace this year, 5776, just born.

The pain of human suffering by war and terrorism and poverty and disease, created by our own human hand, continues to plague us in staggering numbers.

Just these last weeks the images of desperate refugees teeming to Europe, and drowning in the sea while trying, haunt us. Imbue the leaders of Europe with basic human compassion as they deal with the worst humanitarian crises on their soil since the Second World War. As Jews, we know too well what it means when the gates are closed.

Help us here in America to discern the path of response to this refugee crisis as well, and to the unrelenting, barbaric evil of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, who destroy irreplaceable lives and irreplaceable cultural treasures at whim.

Help us stand firm in the face of the implacable hatred of those sworn to the destruction of our beloved Israel, which includes the unrepentant republic of Iran. Give wisdom to our elected leaders as they wrestle with the aftermath of the nuclear deal and the hard road ahead.

Here at home, in a racially charged year—after Ferguson, after Staten Island, after Baltimore, after Charleston—it is all too apparent that we must redouble our efforts to root out racism, bias, prejudice, and apathy. Black lives matter; brown lives matter; all lives matter. There is too much violence from the police; there is too much violence toward the police. There is too much violence.

In a momentous year when the Supreme Court of this land affirmed the right to same-sex marriage, and trans-gender stories are front page news, let us celebrate the ever-widening circle of diversity and inclusion in our pluralistic society.

In the coming year when candidates of all sorts will vie for their party’s presidential nomination, we pray, please, for enlightened discussion and real debate.

In the meantime, guide our grid-locked Congress to basic cooperation for the public good, for the sake of our planet and for the sake of our children.

Foster a spirit of empathy and sacrifice that the vast richness of this land be shared more equitably, and that, in the words of Torah, the most vulnerable—the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the stranger be not forgotten, “for you know the heart of the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Our God; Source of all life and blessing—at this New Year of hope and possibility may we find common purpose to do Your will; to rise to our greatest potential; to reflect our creation in Your image… and to walk with You, forward, to peace and purpose.

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