Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

 

Bring Back Our Girls: A Prayer

Posted on: May 8th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

Bring Back Our Girls FB PageNearly 300 teenage girls were abducted from their school in Nigeria more than three weeks ago. Their supposed crime: advancing themselves through education, dreaming of becoming doctors, teachers, lawyers, women who would better society and the world. Some reports say they are being sold as brides to militants. This prayer is an adaptation of “Against Human Trafficking” including some language from “For the Missing.” For those who know any of the victims by name, the prayer includes two optional lines [in brackets] to add a name to the prayer.

ADDENDUM, Oct. 18, 2016: 21 girls abducted from Chibok have been reunited with their families after an apparent prisoner swap.

Bring Back Our Girls: A Prayer
G-d of the prisoner,
G-d of the slave and the captive,
The voice of anguish echoes across the land.
Our daughters,
Kidnapped from their school,
Hijacked from their lives,
Torn from their dreams,
Are held captive by violence and hatred.

Source of comfort,
Rock of love and truth,
You call upon us to stand
In the name of justice and freedom:
To free the captive,
To stand up to terror,
To fight misogyny,
To cry out against human bondage,
To muster our power and energy
Against this force of evil.

Bless those who have dedicated themselves to saving our girls.
Bless their work.
Let success be close at hand.

[Return ___________________________ (name)
To the cradle of her/our family’s arms,
And the refuge of her/our home,
Speedily, in life and in health.]

This dismay and dread are almost too much to bear.
Grant their families endurance, hope and faith
That they will soon be reunited in the fullness of joy.

Bless our girls, in their captivity,
With hope and courage.
They are daughters of truth,
And children of wisdom.
They are our future.
Grant them the strength and fortitude
To face, G-d forbid, any shames or tyrannies forced upon them.
Hasten their release.
Grant them lives of education and prosperity,
Health and happiness,
Joy and peace.
Let rescue be near.

Blessed are You, G-d of All Being,
Who summons us to liberate the oppressed.

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

Postscript: Please also see: “For the Women of Congo and Sudan.” “Against Human Trafficking” and other prayers for social justice prayers appear in Haggadah Companion: Meditations and Readings. “For the Missing” will appear in my forthcoming book, Prayers from the Heart of Darkness.

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. If you like this prayer, please post a link to Facebook, your blog or mention it in a tweet.

Photo Source: Bring Back Our Girls Facebook Page

Lone Soldier in the IDF

Posted on: May 5th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

IDF InsigniaFor Yom Ha’atzmut, a prayer for the young men and women in the IDF who have come alone to Israel, without their families, to live the dream of building lives here and serving our people in the military. The term is chiyal boded – Lone Soldier – and Israel embraces them with love and care. This is an adaptation of a piece I wrote for Lone Soldiers during Operation Pillar of Defense. While these young men and women are the inspiration for this prayer, the idea came from a soldier’s mother.

Lone Soldier in the IDF
Guardian of Israel,
Young men and women
Have left their homes and families
Throughout the world
To find their place in the Land,
To build lives of hope,
And to serve Your People in the IDF.

Bless them,
And bless all soldiers
Of the Israel Defense Forces,
With strength and skill,
Compassion and determination,
The hallmarks of our military.
Let comradeship bolster their courage.
Let them keep faith with their vision
Of a strong and vital Jewish state.
Look with compassion on their families
And the families of all our military.
Ease their minds.
Console their hearts.
Grant their deepest prayers
For the well-being of their children.

Source of Peace,
Shield our soldiers from the traumas of war.
Keep them safe,
So that they may keep us safe.
Return them swiftly in life and in health
To the loving arms of our people.

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

Postscript: A few lines of this prayer were taken from “For the IDF: Operation Pillar of Defense.” Here are links to two more related prayers, “To the Terrorist” and “For Peace in the Middle East,” as well as a link to more prayers for Israel.

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. If you like this prayer, please post a link to Facebook, your blog or mention it in a tweet.

When My Child Enlists in the IDF

Posted on: March 27th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

IMG_7271Several friends have recently asked for a prayer for their kids enlisting in the IDF. This Times of Israel essay by Laura Ben-David captures both the pride and the concern of parents.

One issue writing this prayer: balancing the emotions of parents for their individual children with the national responsibility and love we feel for all of our soldiers, especially the newly-enlisted. These young men and women are neighbors and family friends.

This prayer is an adaption of one I wrote during Operation Pillar of Defense, with a few lines taken from a prayer titled “For First Responders.” I’ve also used that piece to write a general prayer “For the IDF,” posted here in Hebrew and in English. Choices for customizing this prayer are shown with a slash (“/”). 

When My Child Enlists in the IDF
Rock of Israel,
My/Our son/daughter,
Has been called to serve in the IDF,
To defend and to protect our land
From violence and assault,
From kidnappers and terrorists,
From missile and mortar,
From those who would destroy our nation and our people.
Let his/her service be in the name of peace and justice,
In the name of sovereignty and survival.

We stand with the defenders of Israel.
We honor the guardians of Zion.
We hold dear the sentries of Am Kadosh.

G-d of Old,
We know the price of safety,
We know the cost of security.
Protect our soldiers from physical harm,
Shield them from emotional pain,
And guard them from taking the traumas of war into themselves.
Watch over my son/daughter _____________________ [insert name]
Throughout his/her service.
Bless the injured and wounded
In every generation
With Your healing hand.
Bless the heroes of our past
And the heroes of the future
With Your steadfast love.

Source of Peace,
Keep my/our son/daughter safe,
Keep all of our soldiers safe,
And let the IDF keep us safe,
So that all return in life and in health
To the cradle of my/our home,
The warmth of my/our embrace,
And to the loving arms of our people.

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

Postscript: Here’s a link to more prayers for Israel. One of my favorites is “Israel: A Meditation.”

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. If you like this prayer, please post a link to Facebook, your blog or mention it in a tweet.

Photo Credit: Alden Solovy

Redeeming My Life

Posted on: March 23rd, 2014 by Alden No Comments

This is meditation on personal freedom, recognizing that we must first forgive ourselves for our own mistakes and misdeeds before we can fully express love and care for ourselves and for others. It appears in This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings from CCAR Press.

Redeeming My Life
A part of me
Refuses to forgive
Myself
For my errors, my mistakes,
My oversights and misdeeds.
How can I redeem my life from within
This place of judgment,
Of harsh words and
Somber requirement?

G-d of Old,
G-d of Justice and Truth,
Teach me to restore my life
Through acts of love and kindness,
Thoughtfulness and care,
In support of my
Family and community.
Teach me to surrender my days
To the joy of service to others,
The joy of concern for this world
And generations to come.

Heavenly Guide,
Revive me with Your light,
Restore me with Your truth,
Refresh me with deeds
Of righteousness and charity.

© 2019 CCAR Press from This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings

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. If you like this prayer, please post a link to Facebook, your blog or mention it in a tweet.

Photo Source: Wikipedia

Elijah, Revised

Posted on: February 9th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

Elijah Beth FlusserThere’s a special kind of a hope, a kind of hope that opens the heart to our deepest yearning for a world of wholeness and love ushered in by G-d’s hand. For me, it’s captured singularly a song that we sing every year at the Pesach Seder and each week after Havdalah, a song about Elijah the Prophet. Elijah, our legend teaches, will announce the coming of the messianic age.

This is an expansion and revision of a prayer by the same name for use in my new book, Haggadah Companion: Meditations and Readings. The original was a short and simple six-line acrostic spelling Elijah with the first letter of each line. This version deepens the image of a messianic age and, in the third stanza, makes reference to I Kings 18:37 and I Kings 19:11-13.

Elijah
Eternal One,
Hear our cause!
Love and gladness,
Hope and salvation,
Israel restored,
The world redeemed,
Righteousness and mercy in an age of peace.

We are ready for healing.
Nations dream of justice,
While communities yearn for wisdom.
Leaders search for guidance,
While people seek hope and comfort,
Solace and rest.

Answer us, O God, answer us.
For You are not in the wind,
Nor in the shattering rocks.
You are not in the earthquake,
Nor the raging fire.
You are the still, small voice.

Ancient One,
God of our fathers and mothers,
Let us hear Your voice
Resound from Your holy mountain
As in the days of old.
Send us Your messenger,
Elijah, prophet among prophets,
To announce the time of blessing and wisdom,
To herald the return of holiness,
To proclaim Your world to come.

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

Postscript: Here’s a link to another Passover meditation, “The Season of Freedom.” Click for a full annotated list of meditations and readings for Pesach.

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. If you like this prayer, please post a link to Facebook, your blog or mention it in a tweet.

Photo Credit: Beth Flusser on Haggadot.com

Inside the (Hanukkah) Light

Posted on: November 27th, 2013 by Alden No Comments

5235427938_eee362646b_zThis meditation carries an echo 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. Here’s the meditation set as a song by my friend Cantor Brad Hyman, as well as the article he wrote about it for Reform Judaism.org. This piece appears in This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer from CCAR Press.

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: “Inside the Light” first appeared here on May 22, 2012, the day I arrived in Israel. I wrote it on the airplane from Chicago to Newark on my way to Israel to make aliyah. Cantor Brad Hyman set it to music in 2017 and it was published by CCAR Press four years later. 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

Sing Praises

Posted on: October 31st, 2013 by tobendlight No Comments

Alden Writing Migdal DavidI wrote this song of praise in about seven minutes while making the Kickstarter film about my forthcoming book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing. My videographer wanted a shot of me writing. Pretending to write a prayer felt silly, so I jotted down a few favorite lines, ignored the camera and let it flow. The lines are, essentially, instructions to the reader incorporated into the prayer: quite, breathe, listen. I use those same instructions in two other prayers: “We are Music” and “Invitations.”

Here’s what I wrote during the video. Since then, I’ve changed one word. The rest is exactly as I wrote it in the black moleskin notebook that you can see me using the film. The title came later.

Sing Praises
Quiet now.
Breathe.
Breathe and listen.

Listen to the prayers in the wind.
Listen to the joy on the breeze.
Listen to the hope in the heavens.
For love and life are yours.
Holiness and passion remain.
Wonder and awe
Shimmer from sunset to sunset.

This is the moment where love meets joy,
Where hope meets surrender.

What is that music?
What is that radiance?
What is that yearning?

Quiet now.
Breathe.
Breathe and listen.

Listen to your own voice.
Listen to your own prayers.

This is your power and your peace.
This is your pulse and your heartbeat.
This is your life.

Sing praises,
Sing praises.

© 2013 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Please see also: “We are Music,” “Invitations,” “Life as a Symphony,” “For the Gift of Song” and “For the Gift of Music.”

For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. Connect with To Bend Light on Facebook and on Twitter.

Photo Source: Elahn Zetlin, Chutzpah Media, from my Kickstarter

War on Yom Kippur, 40 Years Later

Posted on: September 12th, 2013 by tobendlight No Comments

Evacuated_Casualties_of_the_Yom_Kippur_War_-_Flickr_-_Israel_Defense_ForcesTomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, a surprise attack on two major fronts on the holiest day of the Jewish year. Here’s a two-prayer liturgy of hope and honor. The first is for the safety of soldiers currently serving in the IDF, including a memorial to Israeli soldiers of the past and a recognition that Israel will need heroes for the future. It’s an adaptation of a prayer I wrote during Operation Pillar of Defense for safety of Israeli soldiers. The second is a prayer for all soldiers and veterans, envisioning a time when, with G-d’s blessings, we will no longer need soldiers to defend our freedom. Click here for more prayers and meditations about Israel.

For the  Soldiers of the IDF
Rock of Israel,
Our sons and daughters,
Our brothers and sisters,
Our family and friends,
Have been called to serve,
In the name of peace and justice,
In the name of sovereignty and survival,
To defend and to protect our land
From violence and assault,
From kidnappers and terrorists,
From missile and mortar,
From those who would destroy our nation and our people.

We stand with the defenders of Israel.
We honor the guardians of Zion.
We hold dear the sentries of Am Kadosh.

G-d of Old,
We know the price of safety,
We know the cost of security.
Bless the injured and wounded
In every generation
With Your healing hand.
Bless the dead and the bereaved
With Your love and consolation.
Bless the heroes of our past
And the heroes of the future
With a share in the world to come.

Source of Peace,
Keep our soldiers safe,
And let our soldiers keep us safe,
So that they return in life and in health
To the loving arms of our people.

The Last Soldier
When the last soldier passes on,
When armies are disbanded and militias discharged,
When weapons are abandoned and armor discarded,
Your mission will, at last, be over.

For you know the soldier’s secret.
Yours was not a mission of war
Nor a mission of ruin.
Yours was not a mission of destruction
Nor a mission of death.
Your mission was safety, security, protection.
Your mission was honor, loyalty, service.
Your mission was to end violence, tyranny, despair.

When the last soldier passes on,
When the uniforms are retired and the final grave filled,
We will remember all who served and sacrificed for our nation.

Until then G-d of Old,
Watch over our soldiers and our veterans.
Renew their courage.
Rebuild their strength.
Heal their wounds.
Bind their hearts with Your steadfast love.
Remember them,
Bless them,
Sustain them,
And give them peace.

© 2011-2012 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Here’s a link to a prayer “For Peace in the Middle East,” as well as a link to more prayers for Israel. One of my favorites is “Israel: A Meditation.”

For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. Connect with To Bend Light on Facebook and on Twitter.

Photo Credit: IDF Photo released to Wikimedia Commons

For the Soldiers of the IDF

Posted on: April 13th, 2013 by tobendlight No Comments

IDF Soldiers at KotelWritten for Yom Hazikaron, here’s a prayer for the safety of soldiers serving in the IDF, including a memorial to Israeli soldiers living and dead who served in the past, as well as a recognition that we’ll need heroes for the future. It’s an adaptation of a prayer I wrote during Operation Pillar of Defense. May our soldiers stay safe and keep us safe.

For the  Soldiers of the IDF
Rock of Israel,
Our sons and daughters,
Our brothers and sisters,
Our family and friends,
Have been called to serve,
In the name of peace and justice,
In the name of sovereignty and survival,
To defend and to protect our land
From violence and assault,
From kidnappers and terrorists,
From missile and mortar,
From those who would destroy our nation and our people.

We stand with the defenders of Israel.
We honor the guardians of Zion.
We hold dear the sentries of Am Kadosh.

G-d of Old,
We know the price of safety,
We know the cost of security.
Bless the injured and wounded
In every generation
With Your healing hand.
Bless the dead and the bereaved
With Your love and consolation.
Bless the heroes of our past
And the heroes of the future
With a share in the world to come.

Source of Peace,
Keep our soldiers safe,
And let our soldiers keep us safe,
So that they return in life and in health
To the loving arms of our people.

© 2012 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: Here’s a link to a prayer “For Peace in the Middle East,” as well as a link to more prayers for Israel. One of my favorites is “Israel: A Meditation.”

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 Credit: Alden Solovy

The Season of Counting

Posted on: March 26th, 2013 by tobendlight No Comments

HHope CountingThis is a meditation on counting. Counting as a spiritual practice is a reminder to stay present in the current moment, the task at hand and that we are on a journey. Beginning the second night of Passover we count the days until Shavuot. By Counting the Omer we remember the journey from the depths of slavery to the heights of G-d’s Holy Presence. This piece appears in my book This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

The Season of Counting
This is the season of counting:
Of counting days and nights,
Of counting the space between slavery of the body
And freedom of the soul.

This is a season of seeing:
Of seeing earth and sky,
Of seeing renewal in the land
And renewal in our hearts.

This is a season of journey:
Of inner journeys and outer journeys
Taking us places that need us,
Places that we need.

This is the season of counting,
The season of joyous anticipation,
Of wondrous waiting,
In devotion and awe,
For our most precious gift,
The gift that binds our hearts to each other across the millennia,
The gift that binds our souls to G-d’s Holy Word.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day

Postscript: Here are links to prayers and meditations for each week of counting the Omer and Shavuot:

  • Week One: Chesed (Lovingkindness, Love, Benevolence)
  • Week Two: Gevurah (Discipline, Justice, Restraint, Awe)
  • Week Three: Tiferet (Beauty, Harmony, Compassion, Truth)
  • Week Four: Netzach (Eternity, Endurance, Fortitude, Ambition)
  • Week Five: Hod (Humility, Splendor)
  • Week Six: Yesod  (Foundation, Bonding)
  • Week Seven: Malchut – Nobility, Sovereignty, Leadership)
  • Shavuot

Please check out my Meet the Author video 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 Credit: Jan Zabransky on logopond.com

“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