Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

 

Thirteen Birds

Posted on: November 26th, 2023 by Alden

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

Inside the (Hanukkah) Light

Posted on: December 18th, 2022 by Alden

This meditation on light pluses with hope, carrying echoes of Hanukkah. It’s about seeing, feeling, and loving the light shining around us, and our yearning to be a source of light and hope for the world. I wrote it in 2012 on my Aliyah flight. My friend Cantor Brad Hyman set as a song in 2017. In 2021, CCAR Press published it my third solo volume with them, This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer. Here’s an article by Cantor Hyman on his inspiration for the music on Reform Judaism.org. I’m reposting this for Hanukkah 2022/5783.

Inside the Light
A rainbow shines
Inside the light.
If you could be the dew drop
You would always see it.

Stillness waits
Inside the light.
If you could be the sky
You would always feel it.

The sunrise dawns
Inside the light.
If you could be the horizon
You would always find it.

Freedom flows
Inside the light.
If you could be the wind
You would always ride it.

Beauty rises
Inside the light.
If you could be the sparrow
You would always reach it.

Mystery pulses
Inside the light.
If you could be the wonder
You would always know it.

Majesty reigns
Inside the light.
If you could be the wisdom
You would always hear it.

Faith rests
Inside the light.
If you could be the eagle
You would always hold it.

Your soul glows
Inside the light.
If you could be yourself
You would never leave it.

© 2021 CCAR Press from This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer

Postscript: Here’s another link to Cantor Hyman’s  musical setting. My other Hanukkah prayers include: “Lamps Within” and “The Season of Dedication.”

Please check out my CCAR Press Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. The individual books are: This Grateful Heart, This Joyous Soul, and This Precious Life. 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.”

Photo Source: Ron Almog

Two Reproductive Freedom Prayers

Posted on: June 14th, 2022 by Alden

Here are two new social justice prayers, written as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to strip away reproductive rights. The first is written in a ‘classic’ prayer format, while the second is one of my “Psalms of Protest.”

Addendum: On 24 June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The Right to Choose
One day,
On the day the world is perfected,
Rape, incest, and all violence
Will vanish from the earth.
On that day,
Medical science will have safe and effective answers
To every risk of pregnancy,
And only those willing and able to raise a child–
Physically, spiritually, financially, emotionally –
Will become pregnant.
On the day the world is perfected,
Every pregnancy will result
From the holy desire to bring forth life
And to raise children,
Without fear of medical or personal consequences.

Until that day,
God of justice,
Defend and protect
Reproductive freedom
In the US and throughout the world.
Grant those who face this profound decision
Wisdom and strength.
Surround them with loving support
And caring professionals.
Guard them, their caregivers, and clinics,
Against verbal violence and physical attack.
Let no court and no politician
Stand in the way
Of the right to choose.

Reproductive Freedom: Psalm of Protest 20
A psalm of protest,
Sung on earth
Before the gates of government.

Thunder, you heavens,
Quake, you earth,
At the rise of injustice
And the return of oppression
By the self-righteous and the arrogant,
Attacking reproductive rights
From the halls of power,
Stripping away hard-won freedoms,
Stripping away protection
For self-determination and medical justice.

We remember
Every sister
Who bled out in a fever
In a filthy backroom,
Abandoned by society,
With no rights
And no choices.

Bear witness, you mountains,
To murder
By the denial of choice.

Give testimony, you seas,
Against those who would threaten,
Subvert, limit, and seek to control
The rights of others.

Rise up, you of faith and conscience,
In the name of liberty,
In the name of justice,
In the name of choice.

“The Right to Choose” and “Reproductive Freedom: Psalm of Protest 20” are © 2022 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.

Please check out my CCAR Press Grateful/Joyous/Precious trilogy. The individual books are: This Joyous Soul, This Grateful Heart, and This Precious Life. Here’s a link to my ELItalk, “Falling in Love with Prayer..” 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.

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

We Will Be Heard: Psalm of Protest 18

Posted on: June 25th, 2020 by Alden

This Psalm of Protest was first posted here as part of my three-prayer Liturgy for Inauguration Day 2017. With a few new lines and several other changes, it’s now Psalm of Protest 18. It can be read with “Strangled by Police: Psalm of Protest 17.”

We Will Be Heard: Psalm of Protest 18
Today,
I am an immigrant,
A drag queen,
A rape survivor,
An African Methodist Church set on fire,
A mosque pelted with rocks,
A synagogue painted with hate.
I am disabled,
A woman paid half of a salary,
A Black man strangled by police.
I am Asian, Latino, Hispanic,
Native American and Multi-Racial.

Yes,
We pray for wisdom and grace
To land like a miracle
On the President,
Transforming his rhetoric of hostility and violence
Into deeds of compassion and love.
But we will not stand silent in shock and fear
Waiting idly as our rights are trampled in public
And repealed in law.

We will count the lies and the slanders.
We will protest in the streets and gather in the polling places.
We haven’t forgotten the lynchings,
The darkness of the closet,
The death by back-alley abortion.

Today,
I am Roe v. Wade,
Obergefell v. Hodges,
Brown v. Board of Education,
The child of slaves,
The child of illegals,
The child of gay parents,
The child of a vision for freedom
And the yearning for inclusion
Neglected and rejected by those in power.

Today I am an American,
A citizen of the United States,
A child of democracy,
A patriot,
Dedicated to justice,
Dedicated to liberty,
Dedicated to action,
Demanding to be heard.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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

Postscript: Here’s a link to all of my Psalms of Protest.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and my two CCAR Press books: This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings 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: Buffalo News

Let’s Hike Together in Israel

Posted on: April 13th, 2020 by Alden

I wrote this meditation — “On the Trail” — after 17 days thru-hiking and  mountaineering on Mount Rainier. In Israel, I’m still an avid hiker. So… let’s go hiking together! Really. When we’re done sheltering in place, Via Sabra – the experiential Israel tour pros – and I invite you to hike with me in my spiritual Israel. We’ll have a professional tour guide describing the land and plan a variety of cultural and culinary experiences. For those inclined, I’ll lead a variety of spiritual experiences. If you’re interested in finding our more, drop me an email.

On the Trail
G-d of beginnings,
G-d of mystery and adventure,
The path is steep,
The route is hidden,
The trail a narrow ridge line,
Exposed and treacherous,
Slicing between majestic canyons,
Rising to the awesome sky.
The load is heavy, the destination unknown,
But the journey has rhythm and dance,
Song and story,
Ancient music that rises around us,
To take us from sunset to sunset
As we move into the glorious unknown
Step by step,
Moment by moment,
Day by day by day.

G-d of the wayfarer,
G-d of the traveler and sojourner,
Divine light of wonder and truth,
Lead us.
Show us the way
Across vast open spaces
And through tight, narrow passages.
Guide us.
Show us the way
Through stormy days
And moonless nights.

Blessed are You, Source and Shelter,
Guide and Compass, Oasis of Strength,
You lead Your people from trail to trail,
From trial to trial,
From darkness to light,
With love.

© 2010 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: This prayer will appear in my forthcoming book This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer. It was first published on April 4, 2010.

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.

Photos of Alden Solovy

Sing with Liberty

Posted on: August 14th, 2019 by Alden

This prayer/song is based on “New Colossus,” the sonnet by Emma Lazarus appearing on a plaque inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Those familiar with the sonnet will recognize the images and phrases reflected here. It’s offered as an antidote to the attempted hijacking of the message of the Lazarus poem. Here’s another prayer/poem based on “New Colussus,” called “Against Detaining Children.” 

Sing with Liberty: Psalm of Protest 15
Sing with Liberty,
For the Mother of Exiles weeps at our sunset gates,
Weeps for her battered proclamation
Twisted to shut our sea-washed shores
To the innocent
Fleeing violence and deprivation.

Sing with Liberty,
For we too were once among the tired and the poor,
Our parents and grandparents
Were the huddled masses
Journeying to a land where they could breathe free.

Sing with Liberty,
Sing with Emma,
Sing with the generations,
The wretched refuse
Washed upon our teeming shores,
Who built this nation,
Who hold us accountable to defend our legacy.

Sing with Liberty,
For from her beacon-hand
Still glows a world-wide welcome,
Flickering now,
But not yet extinguished.
And we will continue to sing with Liberty
The song of freedom,
Beckoning the homeless,
The tempest-tost,
To the lamp at our golden door.

© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com

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

Postscript: See also: “O Freedom: Psalm of Protest 14,” “#MeToo, No More: Psalm of Protest 11,” “A Dream of Columbine: Psalm of Protest 13,” “Voter Suppression: Psalm of Protest 12,” as well as “Psalms of Protest 1, 2 and 3,” Psalms of Protest 4, 5 and 6” and “Psalms of Protest 7-10.”

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: Wikipedia

O Freedom: Psalm of Protest 14

Posted on: July 4th, 2019 by Alden

A Psalm of Protest for U.S. Independence Day 2019. It’s the 14th in a series of social protest prayers using the voice of the Psalmist. See also: “#MeToo, No More: Psalm of Protest 11,” “A Dream of Columbine: Psalm of Protest 13,” “Voter Suppression: Psalm of Protest 12,” as well as “Psalms of Protest 1, 2 and 3,” Psalms of Protest 4, 5 and 6” and “Psalms of Protest 7-10.”

O Freedom: Psalm of Protest 14
A psalm of protest.
For guitar and drum.
O freedom.
O justice.
That tyrants can’t deny.
O freedom.
O justice.
This is our rally cry.
Let all who love this country,
Let all who love this land,
Stand up and shout with power,
Injustice will not stand.
Be strong against the hatred.
Be strong against deceit.
Organize to fight the cause
And never dare retreat.
Come sisters, now, come brothers,
Come join, come heed this call.
And we will fight together,
For freedom, one and all.
O freedom.
O justice.
That tyrants can’t deny.
O freedom.
O justice.
This is our rally cry.

© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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

Postscript: See also: “Against Detaining Children,” “Against Tyranny” and “Domestic Insurrections.”

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: CCS

Psalms of Protest 7 to 10

Posted on: August 11th, 2018 by Alden

Sunday is the first anniversary of the neo-Nazi “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va, which is the impetus behind Psalm of Protest 7. Psalm of Protest 10 reflects the structure of the Ashrei, with an acrostic as the core stanza. Here are links to Psalms of Protest 1, 2 and 3 and Psalms of Protest 4, 5 and 6.

Bigots in the Streets: Psalm of Protest 7
A psalm of protest,
Sung at the gates of decency,
When bigots stalk the streets,
When racism is flaunted in the public square
And hatred is embraced in the courtyards of power.
Open, you gates!
Let virtue and civility pour forth
To drown the voices of malice and rancor,
To flood the hearts of bitterness
With love, tolerance and understanding.
Let the voice of unity
Find purchase in the hearts of racists and fanatics.
Let decency flow forth like living waters,
To heal the heart of hatred.

Cruel Oppression: Psalm of Protest 8
A psalm of protest,
Sung at the gates of mercy,
When callousness pursues the helpless
And cruelty is cloaked in righteousness.
Open, you gates!
Open to the cries of the oppressed,
The immigrant, the refugee,
The hungry and the orphaned.
Bereft by the hands of governments,
Despots and their ministers,
Bereft by war and violence,
Abandoned and despairing.
Open, you gates!
Let mercy flow forth like living waters,
To heal the heart of misery.

Sexual Abuse by Political Leaders: Psalm of Protest 9
A psalm of protest,
Sung at the gates of virtue,
When leaders assault women
And accuse their victims of immorality,
When legislators grope boys
And blame their prey of deceit,
When presidents mock the molested and their advocates.
Open you gates!
Open to the cries of the abused,
Open to the cries of the injured and the scorned,
Traumatized by the leaders of governments,
Traumatized by the heads of colleges, universities and schools,
Traumatized by the stewards of religious institutions.
Open you gates!
Let virtue flow forth like living waters,
To wash away rape, abuse and sexual assault.

To Battle Injustice: Psalm of Protest 10
Happy are the ones who battle injustice,
For whom the world sings praises.
Happy are the ones who stand united,
Their voices become a trumpet of truth.

A psalm of protest.
Admonish the ruler who misuses power.
Beset an evil government with judgment.
Call the people to the streets.
Dispatch the brave and the free in cries of protest.
Entreat the spirit of mercy.
Forge a sword of truth.
Grievance is your staff and
Honesty is your shield.
Injustice will shatter like pounded rock.
Joy and hope will grow roots in its place.
Keep yourself true,
Letting neither anger nor vengeance become your cause.
Make not an ally of violence,
Nor a friend of hatred.
Open your heart to all.
Protect the innocent,
Quiet the hearts of the victims,
Restore kindness to our nation.
Speak out, speak out.
Tomorrow rise to speak out, again.
Until all of us are free from tyranny, free from the
Vulgarity of power abused.
Your voices raised, Your feet marching, to the
Zenith of tikkun olam.

Happy are the ones who battle injustice.
For their hearts will be sanctified in heaven
And remembered on earth.

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

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

Postscript: These Psalms of Protest combine the unique form and language of the Psalmist with the prophetic voice crying out for justice. Psalms often build upon one another, expanding or focusing a theme, which is true for this series, as well. As a result, I’m posting these works in groups.

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: Social Justice Quotes

Psalms of Protest: 1, 2 and 3

Posted on: July 1st, 2018 by Alden

The first three of a new series, “Psalms of Protest.” In both of my countries, Israel and the United States, self-interested governments attack democracy and decency. These Psalms of Protest combine the unique form and language of the Psalmist with the prophetic voice crying out for justice. Psalms often build upon one another, expanding or focusing a theme, which is true for this series, as well. As a result, I plan to post these works in groups.

Children, Detained: Psalm of Protest 1
A psalm of protest,
When children are stripped from their parents’ arms,
When refugees are jailed as criminals.
How long, G-d of justice?
How long will arrogance strike with impunity,
Attacking the heart of innocence?
They are like ten-thousand bees stinging the eyes,
Relentless with violence.
They are like ten-thousand nettles piercing the skin,
Relentless with hatred and without remorse.
Let the arrogant be brought low.
Let the wicked repent.
Let righteousness heal these wounds
And set the captives free.

Free the Captive: Psalm of Protest 2
A psalm of protest,
When tyranny mocks justice,
And the halls of power are painted with bitterness.
Let the righteous rail against cruelty and deceit
So that their voices echo across the land,
So that their footsteps shake the foundations of contempt,
So that their deeds unseat wickedness from the chambers of power.
The land will tremble, the seas will shake,
The heavens will thunder, while the winds split the sky,
Demanding release of the captive
And due process for the enslaved.
Demanding honesty and truth
From governments and leaders,
So that G-d’s word will shine
Even in the hardest hearts of our leaders.

When a New Pharaoh Arises: Psalm of Protest 3
A psalm of memory,
When a new Pharaoh arises.
Do you remember how Pharaoh despised the children?
How he commanded that they be ripped from their mother’s arms and destroyed?
How he used babes to subjugate a people and undo a nation?
Remember, too, how a few brave midwives subverted Pharaoh’s plans.
Remember, too, how arduous is the work of freedom.
For Pharaoh has a heart of stone,
And he hardens the hearts of all who serve him
With treachery and deceit,
With fear and disdain.
But you have a heart of flesh,
And the spirit of G-d’s justice,
To be like Moses and Miriam,
Like Aaron and Joshua,
Like Shifra and Puah,
To unseat the reign of tyranny.

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

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

Postscript: These Psalms are a break from my general approach of staying apolitical in writing prayers. Less than 20 of my 700 pieces of liturgy reflect explicit political views, and most of those have been written since the previous U.S. presidential election. I suspect, that I’ll lose some readers as a result of posting these pieces. It is a writer’s job to speak out.

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: Tee Public

Remember My Heart

Posted on: April 29th, 2017 by Alden

This Yom HaZikaron offering imagines a prayer that might be said by the soldiers and terror victims who’ve lost their lives for the State of Israel. It’s meant to honor that raw spot of grief that exists in all of us, but that some live with daily as a result of simply living in Israel and serving this nation. The core metaphor is a ubiquitous image throughout Israel, the flower that survives by growing up through the cracks in stone, sometimes hewn stones placed by our ancestors, sometimes the very stone of the earth.

Remember My Heart
When you see a flower bloom
Between the cracks in stone,
Remember me.
Remember my heart and my hands.
The hands of sons and daughters,
Of dreamers and doers,
Soldiers by necessity,
Civilians targeted for terror,
Old hands, young hands, children’s hands,
Hands that yearned for life.

When you see a flower bloom
Between the cracks in stone,
Remember that we have shed both tears and blood
In our yearning for this land and this people.
Remember what cannot be stolen,
Our love, our hope,
Our history, our home.

Oh, to still be with you in this sacred land,
In this beauty and wonder,
In this place of my soul.

When you see a flower bloom
Between the cracks in stone,
Remember me.
Remember that beauty survives,
That our love is strong,
That our sacrifices are holy,
That our cause is just,
That our people will endure.

Blessed are you, my people,
Who remember those of us who’ve given our lives
To build, defend and live in this land.
May the Holy One
Shelter your heart in the wings of comfort
And bring peace, at last,
Peace at last.

© 2017 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: The last lines are intentionally vague implying both peace of mind for mourners and relatives of the deceased, as well as peace for the land of Israel. Here are three other prayer that are important for Yom HaZikaron: “Yizkor for a Lone Soldier,” “The Soldiers on this Mountain,” “To the Terrorist,” “For those Who Die Young” and “Memorial for a Child.”

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 by Alden Solovy

“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