Posts Tagged ‘hostage’


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

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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.”

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

For Colleyville, Texas

Posted on: January 16th, 2022 by Alden

This is a prayer of healing for the hostages freed from Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, Texas, as well as the congregation and the community. In 2015 I served as the Selichot Scholar-In-Residence for three Tarrant County Reform Congregations, including Beth Israel. The invitation came from their rabbi, my friend Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker. The Hebrew stanza in this prayer is from Psalm 121. See also: “You of Blood and Venom,” “After a Deadly Anti-Semitic Attack” and “Racist Violence Against Houses of Worship.

For Colleyville, Texas
G-d who frees the slave and liberates the captive,
Look with mercy on the people of Colleyville, Texas,
Congregation Beth Israel,
And the rescued hostages there,
Victims of hatred and antisemitism.
Grant them shelter and solace,
Comfort and consolation,
Blessing and renewal,
So that recovery can begin,
Leading to a complete restoration
Of heart, mind, and spirit.
Release them from suffering.
Release them from trauma.
Return them in wholeness to life.
Bless the first responders
And law enforcement professionals
Who brought their hearts and their skills
To the hours of standoff
And to the task of rescue.
May they also know freedom
From the horror of this ordeal.

To those of hate and terror,
In any land, of any faith,
You will not succeed.
To the anti-Semite,
My people have seen your kind
For generations.
We have outlived you all.
To our Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters
Who abhor violence and eschew hatred,
Let us extend our hands to one another
So that this community can heal,
So that throughout the world
We become a shining light of blessing.

!הנה לא־ינום ולא יישן שומר ישראל
.ה’ ישמרך מכל-רע, ישׁמר את-נפשך
Hinei lo-yanum v’lo yishan shomer Yisrael!
Adonai yishmarekha mikol-ra, yishmor et-nafshecha.
See, the guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!
G-d shall keep you from all evil, G-d will keep your soul.

Heavenly Guide,
Hand of love and shelter,
Grant the people of Colleyville, Texas,
Your protection,
Your wholeness and healing,
And Your peace.

© 2022 Alden Solovy and

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Postscript: See also, “Tree of Life, Pittsburgh,” “Ma’oz Tzur for Pittsburgh,” “Prayer for the Jews of Germany,” and “For the Jews of France.”

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: NPR

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