Dwelling in Safety on Sukkot: A Prayer for Refugees

September 25, 2015Rabbi Michael Adam Latz

We pray to you
Creator of the Universe,
who causes the winds to blow
and the seas to rage…

For the weary and the heart shattered
refugees
escaping violence and bloodshed and war

Who step into raging waters
with an impossible prayer
it is safer than the ground on which they stand
clasping the hands of their children
desperate for life
without the horror of bombs and bloodshed and rape.

We build our sukkah—
Tall enough to stand underneath
Wide enough to fit a table to eat
and to feast
and to gaze up and see the stars.
Protected.
Stable.
Portable.
Enduring.

As we hammer the nails into our sukkah,
We meditate on the mitzvah—leysheiv ba-sukkah
to dwell in the sukkah.

We are blessed for
when it rains
or is too cold
or inconvenient
we go inside and dry ourselves,
warmed by the illusions of our contentment.

But too many of our sisters and brothers fleeing war in Syria have
No such shelter
No safety
No prayer for dwelling in safety.

If the sukkah stands for anything at all,
let it be a shelter for our Divine empathy,
That we hear the cries of the oppressed
and do God’s work to walk with them to freedom
To provide shelter—
Warmth and food and—

Who
like our ancestors,
set out on an epic journey
to freedom.

If our sukkah stands for anything at all,
It must call each of us to conscience—
We were slaves
And now we are free
To serve God.
And walk with the oppressed
To freedom.

Jewish tradition calls upon us to invite
ancient guests
into our sukkah.

The Jewish conscience demands we welcome
Refugees—
living, breathing, aching, hurting people—
into the sukkah of our nation:

Ibrahim
Mariam
Ya’qub
Nuri
Abdul
Rasha
Dawud

Come in.
Welcome.

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