Current Events

Heal Our Hearts (Mi Shebeirach)

By: 
Samantha Silk

Mi shebeirach avoteinu
M’kor hab’racha l’imoteinu

I sing these words
With deep conviction
I pray with all of my soul
Ad-nai, please hear me
Give your people the strength to carry on
Give us the courage to prevail
Bless us with the same love as our ancestors
And we will heal our world through mitzvot
Mi shebeirach imoteinu
M’kor habrachah l’avoteinu

Bless the hands of the wounded
And the holy hands of their doctors
Bless the hands of those shaken
And the holy hands of their loved ones
Bless us with r’fuah sh’leimah
So body and soul may renew
With your love and compassion
And I will continue your works
Of healing those around me
And those around me will heal me
And your world will soon be as one
And as I pray for the strength to save
The swaying of singing bodies
Through my closed lids
And my open heart
Softens my pain and my fear
And we sigh, breathing out
Our final plea
Amen

Samantha Silk lives in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA, near the Tree of Life synagogue. She wrote these poems in response to the attack on the synagogue. Samantha is a student at The Ellis School and belongs to Temple Sinai.

A Cry for Peace (Shalom Rav)

By: 
Samantha Silk

Shalom rav al Yisrael amcha
Tasim l’olam

I ask you for peace
I ask you for love
I ask you for guidance from up above
Ki Atah Hu Melech Adon
L’chol hashalom

I ask you for safety
I ask for protection
I ask you for patience and care and affection
V’tov b’einecha l’vareich
Et amcha Yisrael

Ad-nai hear my voice
Ad-nai hear me sing
Hear the words aching within my heart
Hear me crying out as my voice rings
B’chol eit uv’chol shah
Bish’lomecha

Please bring peace to your people
Protect the ones you set free
Please heal the wounds of your children
Protect the souls that refused to flee
Shalom rav al Yisrael amcha
Tasim l’olam
Shalom rav al Yisrael amcha
Tasim l’olam

Samantha Silk lives in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA, near the Tree of Life synagogue. She wrote these poems in response to the attack on the synagogue. Samantha is a student at The Ellis School and belongs to Temple Sinai.

For Wisdom during Midterm Elections

By: 
Alden Solovy

God of Justice,
Protector and Redeemer,
Grant guidance to our nation
As we select leaders
To serve and to govern,
The men and women who promise
To bring prosperity to our land,
The men and women who promise
To protect our homes and our democracy.

Grant wisdom and courage to voters
To entrust our government to visionaries,
To consensus builders and peacemakers,
To those luminaries who will serve our citizens –
And all who reside within our borders –
With honor and integrity
To forge a flourishing and peaceful future.

Bless our current and future government
With vision and strength,
Fortitude and insight.
May this new government lead us to a time
When liberty and equality will
Reign supreme throughout the land.

God of Truth,
Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security to all nations,
So that truth and harmony will resound
From the four corners of the earth.
Let the light of our democracy
Shine brightly,
A beacon of hope
For every land and every people.

 

© 2018 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

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 an anthology of his work, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day.

After a Deadly Anti-Semitic Attack

By: 
Alden Solovy

This prayer was originally written as "For the Jews of France," following violence in Toulouse in 2012. It has since been rewritten and adapted in response to various acts of anti-Semitic terror, tailored to each individual situation. This general-use prayer includes a fill-in-the-blank line so it can be used in the immediate aftermath of such a devastating attack.

After a Deadly Anti-Semitic Attack

Author of life,
Man has turned violent,
Cutting down innocents
Crushing lives,
Upending dreams,
Attacking hope with hatred.

Source and Creator,
Grant a perfect rest under your tabernacle of peace
To the victims of murder in
______________________ (name of city and country)
Whose lives were cut off by violence,
An act of witless aggression
And calculated anti-Semitism.
Remember the survivors of this horror,
And the victims of any violence, suffering or despair.
Grant them shelter and solace,
Comfort and consolation,
Blessing and renewal.
Grant them endurance to survive,
Strength to rebuild,
Faith to mourn,
Courage to heal,
And devotion to each other.

Heavenly Guide,
Hand of love and shelter,
Put an end to anger and hatred,
Bigotry and fear,
And lead us to a time when no one
Suffers at the hand of another.

For the sake of our people,
And for the sake of Your Holy Name,
Grant the Jews of
______________________ (name of country)
Your protection,
Your wholeness and healing,
And Your peace.

© 2014 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: The prayer “For the Jews of France” is an adaptation of prayers in response to violence in Norway and attacks in Mumbai, which were based on two other prayers, “At the Hand of Violence” and “In Devastation.”

A Prayer for the Anniversary of September 11th

By: 
Rabbi John L. Rosove

Eternal God, Source and Creator of Life; From the depths we have called to you and we call to you again for courage, strength and wisdom on this anniversary of our nation's tragedy.

Grant us courage to confront our enemies. Comfort those who stand alone without spouse, parent, brother, sister, or friend. Open our hearts to them and to the children orphaned ten years ago today. Enable us to love more deeply all children who suffer. Accept with mercy our prayers of healing on behalf of the families of the victims and on behalf of the second responders who became ill at Ground Zero.

Despite the horror and tragedy of 9/11, our country remains a shelter of peace, a symbol of freedom a beacon light of compassion and justice to the downtrodden and oppressed of the world.

Strengthen the hands of our people to defend this country and our common values of freedom and justice. Inspire our leaders and diplomats to act wisely and to pursue peace everywhere in the world.

May we teach our children to learn and to think, to consider and to reason, to be courageous in thought and in deed, and to nurture hearts of wisdom that they may do battle against fear, hatred and bigotry using weapons of the spirit and loving hearts.

We offer our prayers on behalf of our country and government, our President and judiciary, our officials and institutions, our soldiers and citizens, upon all who faithfully toil for the good of our country, to preserve democracy in our land, to advocate for civility between adversaries, and to treat every human being as infinitely worthy and dignified by virtue of being created b'Tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image.

Bestow upon us all the blessings of peace, and may we live to see the day when swords will be converted into ploughshares and nations will not learn war anymore. Amen!

Rabbi John L. Rosove is the senior rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA.

A Liturgy after Terror Attacks

By: 
Alden Solovy

This is a four-prayer liturgy to be used after terrorists strike.

After a Terror Attack

Author of life,
Man has turned violent,
Crushing lives,
Upending dreams,
Attacking the heart of another city/nation
With vitriol and hatred
In [an act/coordinated acts] of calculated terror.

Source and Creator,
Grant a perfect rest under your tabernacle of peace
To the victims of terror throughout the world,
Men and women whose lives were cut off by witless aggression.
Today we [add / once again add] ______________ [insert city name]
To the list of places where innocents have been murdered and wounded.

Remember with love
The survivors of these horrors
Throughout the world.
Grant them shelter and solace,
Comfort and consolation,
Blessing and renewal.
Grant them endurance to survive,
Strength to rebuild,
Faith to mourn,
Courage to heal,
And devotion to each other.

Heavenly Guide,
Hand of love and shelter,
Grant the victims of terror Your protection,
Your wholeness and healing,
And Your peace.

 


 

For Terror Survivors

God of the survivor,
God of the mourner and the witness,
Grant solace and peace to those still held by physical, emotional and spiritual distress from acts of terror.

Remember now those who are suffering from trauma after the
attack in ___________ [add the location].

Release them from visions of death and destruction.
Release them from guilt or shame, from fear or anger.
Bind their wounds with Your steadfast love.
Lift them on Your wings of kindness and grace.

Blessed are those who have found peace.
Blessed are those without tranquility.
Blessed are those who speak.
Blessed are those who stay silent.
Blessed are those who have healed.
Blessed are those who suffer.
Blessed are those who forgive.
Blessed are those who cannot forgive.

Blessed are You, God of healing, Source of strength for survivors
of violence and tragedy in every land and in every age.
Blessed are You, Source of hope and comfort.

 


 

To the Terrorist

You who would hold the sky captive,
The sea prisoner,
The land in chains…

You who hide in caves,
Retreat to the wilderness,
Disappear behind false names and forged papers…

You who smuggle guns and arms,
Hide rockets in cities and bombs in homes,
Build weapons against the innocent and the bystander…

You whose designs are destruction,
Whose plans are fear,
Whose joy is hate…

You who harden your hearts
And wrap yourselves in death…
What evil has robbed you of your love,
Your compassion,
Your goodness,
Your humanity?
What lies have invaded your minds
So that you choose to die in order to kill?

We who love our lives and liberty
Stand firm and strong against terror.
We will defend our nation and our people.
We will protect our land and our homes.
And we pray for you to find hope and comfort
In lives of peace.

 


 

Let Tranquility Reign

Some days,
Ancient One,
Some days the prayers
Of Your people
Are so close
We can hold them in our hands,
Feel them with our eyes,
Taste them with our breath.
They surround our hearts
To become our yearning.
They surround our song,
To become our grieving.
They surround our souls,
To become our pleading.

“My soul has dwelled too long
Among those who hate peace.
I am for peace, but when I speak of it
They are for war.”

When will peace come,
Source of Peace,
When will sorrow be vanquished?
When will tranquility reign?

“Adonai will guard you from all harm;
God will guard your soul.
Adonai will guard your going and coming;
Now and evermore.”

For You are our Hope.
Our Comfort.
Our Blessing.
Let those who cherish life
Bless this day and every day.

“For the sake of my comrades and companions,
I shall say: ‘Peace be within you.’
For the sake of the House of Adonai our God
I will seek your good.”

Let these prayers ascend
To the lofty heights,
So that the nations,
And peoples of the earth,
Will rejoice in holiness,
Will rejoice in splendor,
And will rejoice, together, in righteousness.

 

“After a Terror Attack” is © 2016 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
“Let Tranquility Reign” is © 2015 Alden Solovy andtobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
“For Terror Survivors” and “To the Terrorist” are © 2011 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

A Prayer for Safety After Violent Weather

By: 
Alden Solovy

God of heaven and earth,
Source of All,
The storm has passed.
Earth, sea and sky are quiet.
The tempest moved on.

Thank you for the kinship of neighbors and friends
As we work together to clean up after violent weather.
Bless those who were injured with healing and recovery.
Bless those who lost family or friends with comfort and hope.
Provide food and clothing, warmth and comfort, to all in need.
Thank you for providing safety and shelter
To those who made it out of harm's way.
Thank you for the emergency and rescue workers
Who kept watch and risked their lives for our community.
As we return to our daily lives,
We pray for the victims of any disaster,
Any violence, suffering or despair.

Blessed are You, our Rock and our Shelter.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

In Memoriam: Sandy Hook

By: 
Alden Solovy

These two prayers are to be read in commemorating the anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT (Dec. 14, 2012). The first, “For the Children of Newtown,” is prayer I wrote in response to the attack. May the memories of the righteous be a blessing.

In Memoriam for the Sandy Hook victims

For the Children of Newtown
Author of life,
Source and Creator,
Grant a perfect rest under Your tabernacle of peace
To the victims of the massacre
In Newtown, Connecticut,
Children whose lives were cut off by violence,
All who fell at the hand of anger,
A rampage beyond understanding.
The future was severed.
Hopes, joys and dreams
Lost to brutality.
May their souls be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.
May they rest in peace.

God of mercy,
Remember, too, the survivors of this attack,
Parents,
Sisters and brothers,
Witnesses of shock, horror and dismay.
Ease their suffering and release their trauma.
Grant them endurance to survive,
Strength to rebuild,
Faith to mourn,
And courage to heal,
So that they recover lives of joy and wonder.

Remember the families and friends
Of the dead and the bereaved
With comfort and consolation.
Grant them Your protection,
Your wholeness and healing.
May they find hope and grace.

Heavenly Guide,
Source of love,
Guard the children of Newtown.
Grant them Your shelter and solace,
Blessing and renewal.
Put an end to anger, hatred and fear
And lead us to a time when
No one will suffer at the hand of another,
Speedily, in our day.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

“At the Hand of Violence” is a memorial prayer for individual victims of violence, and includes space to name a specific person who died in the massacre.

At the Hand of Violence: A Yizkor Prayer
Author of life Source and Creator,
Grant a perfect rest under your tabernacle of peace
To ______________________ (name in Hebrew or your native tongue),
My [father / mother / sister / brother / child / wife / dear one / friend]
Whose life was cut off by violence,
An act of witless aggression.
We remember his / her wisdom, talents and skills,
Joy, laughter and tears.
Let these memories continue to bless us
Even as we pray for him / her to find peace
In the world to come.
Put an end to anger, hatred and fear
And lead us to a time when no one will suffer at the hand of another.
May his / her soul be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Alden Solovy is a liturgist, poet, teacher, editor and writing coach, as well as an award-winning essayist and journalist. He’s written for the secular and Jewish press. Before making aliyah to Israel, Alden was a member of Beth Emet-The Free Synagogue, in Evanston, IL, and a regular participant in worship at B'nai Jeshoshua Beth Elohim in Deerfield, IL. His work appears in the CCAR Press book Mishkan R’fuah: Where Healing Resides.

Prayer for Peace: For the People of the Middle East

By: 
Alden Solovy

This prayer for peace, a prayer for a better world, is remarkably hopeful, an attempt to look for a future that seems difficult to reach at best, impossible to imagine at worst: a future of complete peace in the Middle East for all nations and all peoples. The first, "For the People of the Middle East," was written in response to the July 2013 announcement of a new peace initiative between Israel and Palestinians, recognizing that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just one part of a complex peace puzzle. The poem has a broad focus, encompassing all places of war and strife in the region. Residents of Israel should substitute the word "our" for the word "their" when talking about the region.

Prayer for Peace: For the People of the Middle East
God of All,
Protector and Redeemer,
Watch over the people of the Middle East
As their [our] nations face struggle and strife,
In these lands and on these borders.
Grant safety to their [our] citizens and residents,
Visitors and guests,
During moments of unrest.
Grant wisdom and courage to national leaders
Throughout the region.
Grant insight to their advisors
And understanding to their friends.
Lead them on a path toward justice.
Direct them on the road to freedom.
Guide them on the way to prosperity.
Make them all shining lights of peace.

Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security to all nations,
So that harmony and blessings resound
From the four corners of the earth.

Blessed are You, God of All,
Forging nations and peoples
In the crucible of change
Throughout history.
May this time of challenge for the nations of the Middle East
Become a blessing for all inhabitants and for the world.

Alden Solovy is a liturgist, poet, teacher, editor and writing coach, as well as an award-winning essayist and journalist. He’s written for the secular and Jewish press. Before making aliyah, Alden was a member of Beth Emet-The Free Synagogue, in Evanston, IL, and a regular participant in worship at B'nai Jeshoshua Beth Elohim in Deerfield, IL. His work appears in the CCAR Press book Mishkan R’fuah: Where Healing Resides.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, visit To Bend light and see "Share the Prayer!"

A Prayer for Flood-filled Days

By: 
Rabbi Paul J. Kipnes

Eloheinu velohei avoteinu v'imoteinu,
Our God and God of our fathers and mothers,

The flood waters came, wreaking havoc upon our cities, our homes,
our rescue workers, our sense of security,
And we turn to You for comfort and support.
Help us to differentiate between floods of destruction
and down-pouring of Your love and comfort.

We know that waters can destroy.
In a world decimated many times before,
having been submerged in waters
from the Florida hurricanes, the Asian tsunami, and …
each of Biblical proportions,
we remember the destructive abilities of these flood waters.

Recalling now that the world, though filled with Your Glory,
is not equal to Your flawlessness,
we strive desperately, sometimes without success,
to move beyond the impulse to blame You.
Keep us far from apocalyptic thoughts, for we know that You ask us to care for
each other, an awesome responsibility.

We also know that we can seek You in the waters.
We recall Your Loving Hand, guiding us in our infancy:
From a barren rock, You brought forth water to quench our thirst,
In the midst of a journey through the wilderness, You showed Miriam a
myriad of wells which healed our parched throats,
You guided us through Yam Suf, the Red Sea, moving us past destruction
toward new life and new beginnings.
Through Your love, we found our way.

Be with us now, during these deluged days.
Draw us close to those harmed by these waters, hearing their
cries, responding to their needs.
Lead us to support those who will fix the cities,
care for the displaced, who bring healing to those suffering.
Though our attention spans seem so short, may we
be slow to forget those who were in danger.
Please bring a warm wind and hot sun from the heavenly realms
to help dry up the flood waters.

And may we all embrace at least one lesson spoken aloud by so many who -
facing the floods - rushed to pack up their valuables:

That memories of love and of time spent with family and friends
are priceless, holy and sacred.
This can never be taken away.
As we rush to meet the challenge of living in this
imperfect world of ours,
May we slow down enough to cherish those who are truly valuable -
kadosh /holy - to us.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol .
Blessed are You, O God, who differentiates between the truly
Valuable and everything else.

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