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Two Prayers for Inauguration Day

Two Prayers for Inauguration Day

The White House on a sunny day

Our Torah understands that the need for peace and prosperity transcend politics. No matter who’s in power, Torah takes an activist view of prayer and government. Even when we’re unhappy with what's happening, we’re instructed to pray.

The clearest instruction comes from Jeremiah.  “Seek the peace of the city…and pray unto God for it.” (Jeremiah 27:9)

The Reform Jewish prayer book Mishkan T’filah offers a prayer for the government, an appeal to prophetic visions of peace and prosperity quoting Isaiah 58, with a focus on the role of citizens in creating a just society. It includes a general prayer: “Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion.” To supplement this core sentiment, I wrote the prayers shared here, both written in a classic siddur (prayer book) style.

These prayers attempt to answer two seemingly conflicting questions: How can we pray for the success of a government and president who many fear are all too willing to trample on ethics, personal liberties and social welfare programs? Yet, is it possible to bridge the gap between prayers that individuals with widely disparate views might say if specific politics were injected into the prayers? My test: Would these prayers work for any future president and government of the U.S? The answer: Yes.

The Torah teaches us that we must pray for the wisdom of our leaders and the quality of government, no matter our feelings toward specific politicians. Extraordinary times require extraordinary prayers.

For the U.S. President

God of history,
Bless the U.S. President with skill,
To act with inspiration and insight,
Becoming a visionary,
Building our nation and communities
In Your image,
A steward dedicated to justice,
So that our cities and towns
Resonate with compassion and health,
Justice and mercy,
Kindness and peace.

Bless our President
With dedication and foresight,
Fortitude and imagination
To solve the complex issues that threaten our future.
Let the weight of the office
Change him for the good.
Let the institutions of our government
Keep his worst instincts in check.
May he lead us to a time when neighbors embrace
And communities thrive,
A time when liberty and equality
Reign supreme.
Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security
To all nations and communities,
So that truth and harmony will resound
From the four corners of the earth.
Let the light of wisdom
Shine brightly in the halls of power,
A beacon of hope
For every land and every people.

For Government

יקום פרקן מן שמיא
Yikum purkan min shemaiya
Let deliverance arise from heaven
Bringing justice and enlightenment
To the nations of the earth
And to the leaders of the United States,

חנא וחסדא ורחמי
Chi'neh v'chesteh v’ra’chamai
Bringing grace, love and compassion
To the halls of power,
The seats of government,
The capitals of our world.

 יהי רצון מלפניך
Y'hi ratzon milfanecha
May it be Your will
To grant the heads of State
A new vision
For safety and prosperity,
Friendship and cooperation,
So that all may know
The fullness of Your blessings,
In a world of generosity and kindness,
Tranquility and peace.

הנותן תשועה וממשלה לנסיאים
Ha’notein t’shu’ah u’memshalah l’nosi’im
May You who gives redemption and governance to presidents,
Reward us with political leaders
With true vision and deep understanding
Of Your instructions to rebuild
And renew the earth,
So that economic, legal,
Social and environmental justice
May bear fruit
For generations to come.

“For the U.S. President” and “For Government” are © 2017 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. Reprinted with permission.

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 Healing. His writing also appears in several CCAR Press books, including the newly published anthology of his work, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day.

Alden Solovy
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