Posts Tagged ‘children in war’

 

Thirteen Birds

Posted on: November 26th, 2023 by Alden No Comments

Emilia Alony, 5, reunited with her grandmother.

Thirteen Hamas hostages were released on Friday evening, the first of a planned set of four releases, totaling 50 hostages. On Saturday another 13 or 14 were to be released. As of this writing, Hamas has postponed the release and continues to delay. In Israel, these moments are fraught with mixed emotions, joy at the releases – especially the children – combined with fear, anger, and sorrow knowing that so many more hostages will remain in captivity. The slow, day-by-day release feels like a form of slow torture, as do the delays, as does the knowledge that so many more will be left behind.

Thirteen Birds
Thirteen birds
Flew from the depths of darkness,
To the light
Of home.

How much like a vision of glory,
Like the dawn of creation,
When birds first took flight,
To see their faces,
Free birds again,
To see their families
Hold them and
Bring them close.

How much like torture
To wait for the next flock
To be released
From the subterranean cage.
Restless anticipation,
Watching for signs
Of life,
Waiting as the heartless captors
Taunt us with delays,
Waiting for more of our children
To be set free
From the bowels of the earth.

Thirteen birds
Flew home
From the depths of hell,
Into the arms of love,
Into the bosom of our people.
We pray and we wait,
For more to be released.
We pray and we wait
For all of our birds to
Fly home.

© 2023 Alden Solovy

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.
Share the prayer! Email this to a friend.

Postscript: My first draft of this prayer poem was much darker, emphasizing the pain of the trickle of release and the fear that many more hostages will remain in the hands of Hamas. Thanks to my friend Miriam Fine for reminding me that my work is about hope, even in the face of deep pain and sorrow.

Please check out These Words: Poetic Midrash on the Language of Torah and my other CCAR Press volumes: This Grateful Heart, This Joyous Soul, and This Precious Life, which can also be purchased as the Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines, 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. For a taste of my teaching, see my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer.”

Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing.

Photo Source: Schneider Children’s Hospital on Times of Israel

To Win the Peace

Posted on: August 6th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

SONY DSCWith a ceasefire that appears to be holding, it’s time to pray an audacious prayer: a prayer to win the peace. It’s a prayer for security, an end to terror, the road to reconciliation, the path to hope, abundance and prosperity. The big fantastic audacious prayer: that we will be bold enough to try something different, living together, not dying together.

To Win the Peace
The missiles are silent, for now.
And sirens still echo in our hearts.
The tunnels are shut, for now.
And foreboding still vibrates from below.
Funerals on both sides of the front.
Fallen soldiers, buried.
And reunions. Grateful reunions.
Trauma and rubble.
Families grieve. So many lost.
We remember them all.
Three Israeli boys, one Arab son,
Dead at the hand of hate.

To win the war,
Let us win the peace.

G-d of All,
Bless the leaders of Israel
With a vision of safety and renewal for all in our land
And for all of our neighbors.
Grant our leaders insight and understanding.
Direct them on the road to security and reconciliation.
Make them a shining light of valor and hope.

Grant the leaders of Hamas the courage
To end their campaign of terror,
And grant the leaders of the PA the wisdom
To boldly travel on a journey
Toward an abundant and prosperous future.
Direct them on the road to compromise.
Make them a shining light of peace.

Grant physical and emotional safety to
Citizens, residents and all who dwell in these lands.
Through our hard work, let this time of struggle and challenge
Become a blessing to the world.

To win the war,
Let us win the peace.

Blessed are You, G-d of All,
Forging nations and peoples
In the crucible of change
Throughout history.

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

Postscript: Thank you to my friend Rabbi Bob Carroll for his review and comment on an earlier draft. Here are links to other prayers I’ve written during this difficult time: “Children of Gaza, Children of Israel,” “Yizkor for a Lone Soldier,” “The Soldiers on This Mountain,” “For the IDF, Operation Protective Edge,” “They Were Boys: A Yizkor Prayer,” written in memory of Gil-ad Shaer, Iyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel, z”l, and “Another Boy Lost: A Jewish Yizkor for an Arab Son” written in memory of Muhammad Abu Khdeir.  I also wrote two prayers inspired by the thoughts and hopes of 14 visiting rabbis from the CCAR Solidarity Mission to Israel. I had the honor of leading this amazing group in a prayer writing workshop.

My prayer “For Peace in the Middle East” appears in a new compilation “The Hope: American Voices in Support of Israel.” Proceeds of the sale of that book go to the Lone Soldier Center.

Please take a moment to explore my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Alden Solovy

Children of Gaza, Children of Israel

Posted on: August 2nd, 2014 by Alden No Comments

arab_jewish_boys.jpg.w560h384This is a new prayer for peace, a prayer about love, a prayer that sees the beauty in all children. For more than two weeks, people have been asking for a prayer focused on the children here in Israel caught in this war. It took longer to conceive than I expected. I hope you find meaning in it. It has a similar intention as my prayer “For Peace in the Middle East.” It also fits nicely with two prayers I wrote on behalf of the CCAR Solidarity Mission to Israel.

Children of Gaza, Children of Israel
Dear Children,
What can we say to you in times of war?
What can we say when you run for shelter, not for joy,
When you hide, not to seek, but huddle in fear?
No, it is not a game when you
Cry tears of dread in the night.

O grief,
O war and terror,
You have stolen our children.
You have stolen our rest.
And now you wish to steal our hope
In tomorrow.

Children of Gaza and Israel,
We pray for you to find each other,
In laughter and friendship,
Before someone teaches you
Anger and hatred,
While you are still pure with
Curiosity and wonder.

Children of Israel and Gaza,
We pray for you to find comfort
In the cradle of your mothers’ arms,
In the bosom of quiet and peace,
Without rocket or mortar to break
The gentle stillness of the air,
The lovely silence of the night.

One G-d,
Maker of All,
Is this too much to ask?
Is this too much to dream?
That one day all children of the world
Will run with glee toward one another,
Will hold hands together in delight,
To skip and twirl and dance
To the rhythms of peace?

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

Postscript: This prayer is very much “in the moment,” being focused on Gaza and Israel. I also plan to write and post a more general prayer for all children of war. My prayer “For Peace in the Middle East” appears in a new compilation “The Hope: American Voices in Support of Israel.” Proceeds of the sale of that book go to the Lone Soldier Center. Thanks to my friend Michele Chabin for her comments on an earlier draft of this prayer. Here are two more prayers about our children: “They Were Boys: A Yizkor Prayer,” written in memory of Gil-ad Shaer, Iyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel, z”l, and “Another Boy Lost: A Jewish Yizkor for an Arab Son” written in memory of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. For more prayers about Israel, please click here.

Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Debbi Cooper Photography

“Alden has become one of Reform Judaism’s master poet-liturgists…" - Religion News Service, Dec. 23, 2020

“Mesmerizing, spiritual, provocative, and thoughtful, Alden was everything you would want in a guest scholar and teacher.” – Rabbi Denise L. Eger, Congregation Kol Ami, Los Angeles, and Past President, CCAR

"Alden Solovy has become one of the most revered liturgists of the last decade…" - Jewish Post & Opinion, March 29, 2023

“Alden left everyone feeling inspired.” – Cantor Jeri Robins, Shabbat Chair, NewCAJE6