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A Prayer Against Detaining Children

A Prayer Against Detaining Children

Protest sign held overhead that says: Reunite Families Now

This prayer was written in response to the detention of children at the U.S. border, as well as the tragic deaths of innocents there and in the custody of the federal government.

The first stanza alludes to the Emma Lazarus sonnet, “New Colossus,” which appears on a plaque inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Lazarus calls the border “our sunset gates” and the statue “the Mother of Exiles.” The closing line is from the siddur, the Jewish prayer book, from the section called birkot hashachar, the morning blessings.

The format of the prayer follows other social justice prayers, such as "Against Gun Violence" and "Against Hunger." To learn more about how to take action for a more just immigration and refugee system in the United States, first read this essay from Rabbi Rick Jacobs, then visit the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus Initiative Immigrant and Refugee Justice Action Center.

Together, we pray...

A Prayer Against Detaining Children​

God of the captive,
God of the imprisoned and detained,
The voice of heartbreak echoes across the land,
Children rejected at our sunset gates,
The Mother of Exiles weeps for the innocent,
Their journey to Liberty bringing detention, deprivation and death.
Has compassion fled our borders?
Has the lamp at our door been extinguished?
Has Justice abandoned her post?

Source of comfort and hope,
You call upon us to stand in the name of the children,
To witness against mistreatment and neglect,
To fight a government that separates parents from minors
At the border of our nation,
Flaunting power,
Ignoring decency and law,
Allowing the innocent to die.

Bless those who dedicate their lives to human rescue.
Grant them the fortitude to battle in the name
Of the unknown, the unseen,
Those who cannot be forgotten.
May the work of their hands never falter,
Nor despair deter them from their holy calling.

Bless those in human bondage with hope and courage.
Grant them the strength and the fortitude
To face the indignities and privation forced upon them.
Hasten their release.
Grant them lives of health and prosperity,
Joy and peace.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who releases the captive.
Baruch ata Adonai Eloheynu melech ha-olam, matir asurim.

© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com

 

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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