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Jew Against Jew: A Prayer After Violence at the Kotel

Jew Against Jew: A Prayer After Violence at the Kotel

This is a prayer for Jews to love one another. I wrote it a year ago, but it echoes as a response to the violence perpetrated at the Kotel this week. Charlie Kalech and I were beaten after we and other men helped facilitate the use of a full-sized Torah by Women of the Wall at the Western Wall on Rosh Chodesh on April 22, 2015. This prayer is part lament and part admonition against sinat chinam, basesless hatred of Jew against Jew. The prayer is the result of an assignment last year by master teacher Yaffa Epstein at Pardes Institude of Jewish Studies after a semester of studying the Amidah, a central prayer in Jewish liturgy.

May one day soon we forget the violence, on that day the love of Torah will be shared equally, with joy, among all of our people.

Jew Against Jew

Oh my people,
What has happened to your heart?
What has happened to your vision?
And what has happened to your wisdom?
And what has happened to your love for one another?
The seeds of disrespect and misunderstanding have taken root,
Yielding fear and anger,
Condemnation and recrimination,
A rising hatred of Jew against Jew
That threatens to consume us.
Sinat chinam has attacked the soul of our people.

Ancient One,
God of our fathers and mothers,
Grant us a new wisdom and a new vision
To see beauty and holiness
In all of the tents of Israel.
Guide us back to each other
With reverence and understanding.
Renew our days with love.
Then, God of Old, we will build
A temple of song to your Holy Name,
Resounding from heart to heart,
From soul to soul,
From generation to generation,
The whole House of Israel.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God,
You delight in Your people’s love.

The photo that accompanies this piece is from Facebook album by top news photographer Miriam Alster. The album contains beautiful photos of women expressing love of Torah. There are also horrible photos showing what Charlie and I experienced at the hands of so-called ushers and ultra-Orthodox men: He was beaten and manhandled; I was roughed up and stomped on. Those photos are important to understand the forces that oppose women’s rights at the Kotel. Yet here I choose to show the celebration, with Rabbi Susan Silverman dancing with Torah. When I was down on the ground, Susan and Charlie’s wife Sarah rushed toward us to help. Thank you, Susan and Sarah, for coming to my aid. The photos of women expressing love of Torah, those are the photos of the joyous future we desire, Torah for all, b’ezrrat Hashem.

 

Alden Solovy is a liturgist, poet, and teacher. His teaching spans from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem to Limmud UK and synagogues throughout the U.S. Before making aliyah to Israel in 2012, Alden was a member of Beth Emet-The Free Synagogue, Evanston, IL, and a regular participant in worship at B'nai Jeshoshua Beth Elohim, Deerfield, IL. He’s the author of Jewish Prayers of Hope and HealingHis writing also appears in several CCAR Press books, including two anthologies of his work, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Dayand his latest book, This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings.

 

Alden Solovy
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