Guest Writers: Confirmation Students, Temple Beth El, Knoxville

As part of the final year of confirmation class, Rabbi Erin Boxt of Temple Beth El, Knoxille, used my three books — including This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day — to inspire and teach prayer and prayer writing. The students also learned about prayer with me via video-conference. Each had the opportunity to write a prayer for their confirmation service. Lauren Sydney Dryzer wrote three prayers; Benjamin Garcia Margulies wrote two.

Three from Lauren Sydney Dryzer
Open up my eyes to see the truth,
And let me realize that I have been avoiding reason.
Show me what I’ve been hiding,
Adonai, show me the way to holiness.

I have spent years telling myself the same lies
That I need to conform:
Look the same, act the same, be the same.

The truth can open my eyes
So that I can see I am who I am for a reason.
Adonai gave me this body,
And it is my responsibility to treat it with kindness,
To treat it with love,
And to treat it like it is holy.

Shine light on the darkness,
And cut through misperceptions.
Give me strength to take on this burden,
Adonai, give me sight to perceive lies.

The light of my life is in
The smiles of my friends,
The joy of giving,
The bittersweet ending of a chapter
That leads to a beginning.
Adonai, this and many more of your gifts
Can lighten up the world.

My shoulders are weary,
And it seems that soon they will break.
Yet, You let me realize
That true strength
Is not in pondering how much longer to go,
But in how far I’ve come.

Everywhere, lies persist;
They come from all of the people in your life.
What You have shown me is that
I need to fix this lie before any others:
“I am happy where I currently am.”
Oh, let me continue to grow,
To never be content,
And to always search for more.

Guide me to opportunities,
And bless me with good fortune.
Ready me for the future,
Adonai, ready me for redemption.

I see a future with endless passion and charity,
I see a future where I don’t question if I love who I am,
I see a future with people living in coexistence,
I see a future where my generation changes the world.

I want a future with no poverty,
I want a future where every child has an education,
I want a future with no hunger,
I want a future where all communities work together
To help those who cannot help themselves.

I am the future of my parents and of my ancestors,
I am the future of my classmates and of my friends,
I am the future of my country and of my religion
I am the future of a movement and of a world,
And I cannot and will not surrender until this is the future.

Two from Benjamin Garcia Margulies
G-d you stand by me
Together we stand in the shadow of the big and small tasks before me
I know that you will guide me through the large
But I also ask for strength with the small
For I know many small things become a large task I thank you G-d

G-d, whose plan is more masterful than yours?
In your pursuit to teach me you place challenges before me
Challenges I asked for help with
And help I did receive
You gave me strength to be persistent
And taught me to seek the help of others
And for that I must thank you G-d
And await the coming challenges you have prepared for me

© 2018 Temple Beth El, Knoxville. All rights reserved.

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Postscript: This innovative project — using my books as texts for confirmation students — was conceived by Rabbi Boxt. Rabbi Boxt has been a long-time supporter of my work and innovator in the use of this work. When he was at HUC-JIR, he was the first to use pieces of my work as part of a rabbinic thesis.

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: Temple Beth El, Knoxille

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