Saturday, September 23, 2017

Rabbi Schwartz's Rosh Hashanah Prayer 5778


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, 5778, just born.

Let us begin by remembering what is so often forgotten in the glare of the news of the day: the pain of human suffering by war and terrorism; poverty and natural disaster continues to plague us in staggering numbers, often in lonely parts of the world.

A famine of epic dimension is quietly but devastatingly unfolding in Eastern Africa, wrought by nature but exacerbated by political strife.

Floods have killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Yet the end of this Jewish year has slammed home the reality that none are free of the threat of natural calamity, and our hearts go out to all the sufferers of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma… and Hurricane Maria as we speak… and the Mexico earthquake the week before last, and the Mexico earthquake just yesterday.

Concerning the disasters entirely of our own hand⏤the images of desperate men, women and children trapped in the killing fields of Syria and Iraq continue to haunt us.

The images of refugees still streaming to Europe, and drowning in the sea while trying, continue to haunt us.

Let us not rest easy; as Jews, we know too well what it means when the gates are closed. 

Open the gates of compassion.

In the world of geo-politics our relations with North Korea, Iran, Russia and China remain troubled and dangerous.

In our beloved Israel we marked the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War knowing that the Occupation exacts a heavy toll and the path to peace is stalled.

Open the gates of peace.

Here at home this past year witnessed a momentous election. Xenophobic impulses troubled our election and now they trouble our national policy.

After Ferguson, after Staten Island, after Baltimore, after Charleston, after Dallas, after Baton Rouge… then came Charlottesville.

Open the gates of brotherhood.

This year since the election has witnessed stormy and vitriolic debate on health care and on immigration.

Open for us the gates of basic human kindness and understanding worthy of our great nation. Let us remember the famous declaration of our first president to the Hebrew congregation in Newport, Rhode Island that, “happily, the Government of the United States, [which] gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

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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