This Rosh Hashanah prayer — written at the request of the Central Conference of American Rabbis — appeared in their High Holy Day Resources 2017. The request: create an apolitical High Holiday prayer responding to the rising tide of antisemitism. Given the challenge, I drafted principles to guide the writing; afterward, I annotated the prayer. Links to the guidelines and the annotated version are in the postscript. I’m honored to have been asked to produce new liturgy for the Movement.
Take Us to the Mountain
Lead us to the river,
To cast our sins upon the waters.
The world may go mad.
We must stay sane.
Take us to the mountain,
To cast our eyes toward the heavens,
The world may go mad.
We must have hope.
?יהוה, אוֹרִי וְיִשְׁעִי, מִמִּי אִירָא
Adonai ori v’yishi, mimi ira?
God is my light and my refuge secure,
Whom shall I fear?
Hate has come calling,
To consume the heart of justice,
To consume the heart of mercy,
To challenge our lives and our ideals.
.יהוה מָעוֹז-חַיַּי, מִמִּי אֶפְחָד
Adonai maoz-chayai, mimi efchad?
God is the stronghold of my life,
Of whom shall I be afraid?
Love, too, has come calling,
To enliven the heart of righteousness,
To enliven the heart of rejoicing,
To fulfill our hopes and our dreams.
We need not be prophets of doom,
To see that anger stalks the night
And threatens our days.
Let us be prophets of blessing,
Bringing kindness as our message,
And tikkun olam as the work of our hands.
Let us repent our own offenses.
Let us repair our own wrongs.
Let us be upright in thought and deed.
Fountain of Life,
Bring us to the river of Your blessings.
Lead us to the mountain of your salvation.
Bring Your light to the nations.
Bring Your healing to the world.
?אֶשָּׂא עֵינַי, אֶל-הֶהָרִים, מֵאַיִן יָבֹא עֶזְרִי
.עֶזְרִי, מֵעִם יהוה, עֹשֵׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶ
Esa einai el-heharim, mei-ayin yavo ezri?
Ezri mei-im Adonai, oseih shamayim vaaretz.
I lift my eyes to the mountains,
For where will my help come?
My help comes from the Eternal,
Maker of heaven and earth.
God of All,
Let Your sukkat shalom,
Your shelter of peace,
Descend from the highest heavens
To bless us and all creation
On this New Year.
© 2017 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. Rights for use in prayer – including reprints – are granted to CCAR, CCAR members and URJ member synagogues. All other rights reserved.
Postscript: Here’s a link to the annotated version and a link to the liturgical guidelines used to craft this prayer. “We Will Not Yield” is a political approach to some of the same themes. This year, a prayer “For Houston” night also be appropriate. My other High Holiday prayers — many of which can be found in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day — can also be found by clicking here.
Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo Source: Israel Tours/Shmuel Browns