Posts Tagged ‘justice’

 

Against Worker Exploitation, Revised

Posted on: August 7th, 2023 by Alden No Comments

This revision of my 2011 prayer is inspired by my daughter Dana’s dedication to the Writers Guild of America strike. Dana is a member of the Art Directors Guild and a television writer. She’s creating strike ‘swag’ with the profits supporting the Entertainment Community Fund, which gave her the opportunity to meet Teamster Local 399 leader Lindsay Dougherty. I’ve updated this prayer by including some of the jobs that Teamsters represent, as well as the entertainment world. The original version appears in the Labor Day section of my book, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day.

Against Worker Exploitation, Revised
G-d of the laborer,
The trucker and the writer,
G-d of those who build and bake and fly and act,
Those beside our hospital beds and hauling our trash,
G-d of the migrant and the ensnared,
The voice of the misused echoes across the land,
Overworked and undervalued in the name of profit,
Our children and our parents,
Our brothers and our sisters,
Toil, economically chained to taskmasters,
By need, by poverty, or by misfortune.
Bound to unbearable hours
And cruel conditions
So that others may reap the rewards
Of their labor, their suffering, and their endurance.

Source of abundance and grace,
Creator of affluence and wealth,
You call upon us to stand in the name of justice and fairness,
To witness against the abuse of economic power,
To battle theft by dominance and clout,
To fight corporate neglect of human beings,
To speak out against exploitation.

Bless those who dedicate their lives to the voiceless and forgotten,
To expose callousness in field and factory,
And greed in boardrooms and negotiations.
Bless those who plead on behalf of workers
Before the seats of power,
Before governments and corporations.
Give them wisdom and skill, courage and determination.
May the work of their hands never falter
Nor despair deter them from this holy calling.

Blessed are You, G-d of All Being,
Who summons us to oppose oppression.

Revised by the author from “Against Worker Exploitation” © 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers For a New Day

Postscript: This prayer is from my series of prayers “Against…” The series includes: “Against Poverty,” “Against Human Trafficking” and “Against Tyranny.” They follow a common format and focus on tikkun olam, repairing the world. Other related prayers include: “Upon Losing Employment” and “For Work.” For Vayigash 5773, I posted a prayer for family healing called “Dear Brother, Dear Sister.” This prayer first appeared on this site on October 21, 2011.

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!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Credit: Food Chain via Care 2

Why Do You Slumber?

Posted on: September 28th, 2022 by Alden No Comments

This new Yom Kippur meditation is inspired by the two Haftorot we read on that day. In the morning, we hear Isaiah’s great call to justice and tikkun olam (Isaiah 57:14-58:14). In the afternoon, we read the book of Jonah. The simple question asked of Jonah, asleep in the ship’s hold as a tempest pummels the boat, is the basis of the moving Sephardi piyut for S’lichot, Ben Adam Ma Lecha Nirdam?, Son of Man, Why Do You Slumber? Why, indeed, do we slumber, when it is time to awaken to our best selves, when the world calls us to action?

Why Do You Slumber?
?מה לך נרדם? / ?מה לך נרדמה
Mah lecha nirdam? / Mah lach nirdama?
Why do you slumber, (Jonah 1:6)
Child of humanity?
When your brothers die?
While your sisters cry?
While anger shakes us?
When terror breaks us?
!קום קרא אל־אלהיך
Qum kra el elohecha!
Get up, cry out to your god (Jonah 1:6),
Cry out for justice and for peace.

?מה לך נרדם? / מה לך נרדמה
Mah lecha nirdam? / Mah lach nirdama?
Why do you slumber, (Jonah 1:6)
Child of God?
Your heart is noble,
The need is global.
This is the hour,
To act with power.
!קום קרא אל־אלהיך
Qum kra el elohecha!
Get up, cry out to your god (Jonah 1:6),
Cry out for justice and for peace.

?מה לך נרדם? / מה לך נרדמה
Mah lecha nirdam? / Mah lach nirdama?
Why do you slumber, (Jonah 1:6)
Child of love?
The call is urgent,
The cry resurgent,
To embrace each other,
And bless one another.
To rise from slumber.
To live in wonder.
!קום קרא אל־אלהיך
Qum kra el elohecha!
Get up, cry out to your god (Jonah 1:6),
Cry out for justice and for peace.

© 2022 Alden Solovy and ToBendLight

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Postscript: Here’s one of many renditions of Ma Lecha Nirdam on You Tube.

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.

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Illustration Source: American Jewish World Service

For the Return of Peace

Posted on: May 12th, 2021 by Alden No Comments

As an Israeli-American, I hold sorrow and fear for both my nations, and all the earth. This is a prayer for G-d to restore peace and justice to our world. The photo, which I took from Israel last fall, is a peaceful sunset over Gaza.

For the Return of Peace
O Peace, you fleeting dream,
O Justice, you fickle hope,
Today we do not pray in your name.
Today we pray in the name of the children
Who have never met you,
Who have not been blessed
With your love or your truth.
Surely, their cries must someday
Drive you out of hiding,
Summoning you to cast your healing
Upon all the earth.

One G-d,
Ancient and merciful,
Justice and Peace are Yours.
Halt their retreat from the world
And send them to us for good.
Do it for the sake of Your name,
Do it for the sake of Your right hand,
Do it for the sake of holiness,
Do it for the sake of Your children,
So that all may live in the fullness of Your gifts,
As one family on earth,
Under Your canopy of love.

© 2021 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: Those familiar with Jewish liturgy will recognize the lines “Do it for the sake of Your name / Do it for the sake of Your right hand / Do it for the sake of holiness” from Elohai Netzor. To create a more universal prayer, I removed the line “Do it for the sake of Your Torah” and replaced it with “Do it for the sake of Your children.” 

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.

Photo Source: Alden Solovy

The Dissenter’s Hope: In Memoriam, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, z”l

Posted on: September 20th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

“…that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow…” – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, z”l, NPR interview, 2002

This prayer for justice is written in memoriam for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, z”l. Three ideas drove this piece. First, that it should echo her passion, inspired by some of her own words. Second, that others would write her eulogy and tell her story; rather, this prayer envisions the future she worked toward. Third, that it reflect her deep connection to the principles of justice found in Judaism by quoting Jewish text. The obvious choice would have been Deuteronomy 16:20 — “Justice, justice you shall pursue” — but since she died on Erev Rosh Hashanah, a reference to the High Holiday liturgy seemed more fitting to the moment.

The Dissenter’s Hope
Never surrender the fight for today,
And never give up the dream of a better tomorrow.
For this is the dissenter’s hope,
That one day,
Some enlightened day in the future,
When truth is given full voice,
Justice will win the majority,
And the bell of freedom will ring
With new clarity.

For nations and societies are ever-threatened
By oppressors and would-be despots,
New pharaohs with old designs
For power and dominion.

Never surrender the fight for today,
And never give up the vision of a better tomorrow.
For the work of liberty can be slow,
The ongoing pursuit of equality and love of humankind.
This is the dissenter’s hope,
That some enlightened day in the future,
Every call for justice will win the majority,
And the light of freedom will shine
With perfect clarity.

וּבְכֵן צַדִּיקִים יִרְאוּ וְיִשְׂמָֽחוּ וִישָׁרִים יַעֲלֹֽזוּ וַחֲסִידִים בְּרִנָּה יָגִֽילוּ וְעוֹלָֽתָה תִּקְפָּץ פִּֽיהָ. וְכָל הָרִשְׁעָה כֻּלָּהּ כְּעָשָׁן תִּכְלֶה כִּי תַעֲבִיר מֶמְשֶֽׁלֶת זָדוֹן מִן הָאָֽרֶץ

Uvchein tzadikim yiru v’yismachu, visharim yaalozu, vachasidim b’rinah yagilu, v’olatah tikpotz-piha, v’chol harishah kulah k’ashan tichleh, ki taavir memshelet zadon min ha-aretz.

And then the righteous will see and rejoice, and the upright will exult, and the pious will rejoice with song; injustice will have nothing more to say, and wickedness will vanish like smoke, when You sweep the rule of evil from the earth.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: The liturgical quote comes from the High Holiday Amidah. The Hebrew is from Sefaria.org, the transliteration from Mishkan Hanefesh, and the translation is a combination of translations from Sefaria, the Koren High Holiday Machzor, the Silverman (1951) machzor, and Mishkan Hanefesh. Thank you to Sivan Rotholz for the nudge to write this piece.

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.

We Will Be Heard: Psalm of Protest 18

Posted on: June 25th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

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.

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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

O Freedom: Psalm of Protest 14

Posted on: July 4th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

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.

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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 No Comments

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.

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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 4, 5 and 6

Posted on: July 21st, 2018 by Alden No Comments

The second set of three in a new series, “Psalms of Protest.” This set — posted for Tisha b’Av 2018 — begin with the echo of lamentations. Those who are familiar with the news in both Israel and the U.S. will hear allusions to controversies in both nations. I’m posting these works in groups. Here are links to Psalms of Protest 1, 2 and 3.

Abuse of Power: Psalm of Protest 4
A psalm of protest,
Before broken towers of liberty,
Sung in ashes and sackcloth,
When presidents embrace strongmen,
And prime ministers sanction hatred,
When politicians defile history,
And leaders oppress the outcast.
Oh broken trust!
Oh fractured promise!
How will we rebuild the halls of freedom?
How will we restore the courts of justice?
Deliver us from oppression and tyranny,
From leaders who forget the past and ignore the future.
Let the upright rise to lead,
And the sound of joy replace these cries.

Abuse of Trust: Psalm of Protest 5
A psalm of protest,
Before the broken gates of conscience,
Sung in ashes and sackcloth,
When lies are held as truth,
And citizens go blind before despots,
When judges are appointed to oppress,
And police do the bidding of clerics.
Oh twisted logic!
Oh reign of deceit!
How will we walk the path to renewal,
Cluttered with the remnants of trust?
How will we walk the path to peace,
Cluttered with the ruins of treachery?
Deliver us from the captains of war,
From leaders who rewrite the past and destroy the future.
Let the upright rise to lead,
And the sound of joy replace these lamentations.

Restore Justice: Psalm of Protest 6
A psalm of protest,
Sung to God.
When villains rose up to destroy justice,
You drove them out like a plague upon Your land.
When evil forces rose to ensnare the nation,
You cast them in a pit.
When deceit rose up to conquer truth,
You cut the chords of dishonesty
And silenced the voice of falsehood.
How long will false leaders mock Your law?
How long will princes and potentates,
Prime ministers and presidents,
Defy Your will?
How long with corrupt judges and officers of the court,
Bid in secret with duplicity and infidelity?
How long will the innocent by subjugated?
Praise to You,
The One who restores justice,
Establishes mercy,
Frees the captive and
Brings low the haughty.
Strip treachery from the halls of power,
And cast your shelter upon the earth.

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

New here? Subscribe here to get my newest prayers by email.
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Postscript: These Psalms of Protest combine the unique form and language of the Psalmist with the prophetic voice crying out for justice.

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: Alden Solovy

For Children at Our Borders

Posted on: June 17th, 2018 by Alden No Comments

A prayer against the injustice of children taken from parents by U.S. immigration authorities, parents seeking asylum in this free democratic nation. In six weeks, some 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the border.

For Children at Our Borders
G-d of mothers and fathers,
G-d of babies and children,
Youth and teens,
The voice of agony echoes across the land,
As children are taken from their parents,
Perverting our history as a nation of immigrants,
Perverting our values,
Perverting the ways of justice and peace.
These children
Wait in misery
To be reunited with their families
So that a few may reap the political rewards
Of their suffering
By playing tough at our borders.

Source of grace,
Creator of kindness and goodness,
You call upon us to stand in the name of justice and fairness,
To witness against this abuse of power,
To battle the systematic assault on human beings,
To speak out against their suffering.

Bless those who rise up against this horror.
Give them courage and determination.
Bless those who plead on behalf of the oppressed and the subjugated
Before the seats of power.
May the work of their hands never falter
Nor despair deter them from this holy calling.

Bless those now in bondage at the hand of the U.S. government.
Grant them shelter and solace,
Comfort and consolation,
Blessing and renewal.
Release them. Free them. Heal them from trauma.
Reunite them with their families.
Hasten the day of their reunion.

Blessed are You, G-d of All Being,
Who summons us to oppose violence, oppression, slavery and injustice.

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

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Postscript: See also “Sleeping Prophets,” a prayer calling for each of us to rise up to stand for justice. “For Government” is a prayer for just and righteous political leaders.

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: NPR/Eric Gay/AP

The Preacher Said

Posted on: November 9th, 2016 by Alden No Comments

img_0717Here’s a prayer for use in celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day and written for my book, “This Grateful Heart.”

The Preacher Said
Let us pray,
The preacher said,
Let us pray in the name of hope,
In the name of justice,
In the name of truth.

Let us commit to each other,
The preacher said,
Commit in the name of equality,
In the name of righteousness,
And in the name of our children.

Let us take to the streets,
The preacher said,
Let us take to the streets
To make our space,
To claim a place,
For no one race
Can live in grace,
Until we face,
Together,
Oppression and hate.

Let us walk,
The preacher said,
Let us walk from Selma to Montgomery,
From oppression to the Promised Land,
From fear to courage,
From silence to action,
From today to the future,
To a place where all people
Will be judged by the content
Of their character,
The humanity of their words,
And the compassion of their deeds.

Stick with love,
The preacher said,
Stick with love
Because love is the only answer.

Stick with love.
Stick with love.

Let us pray,
The preacher said,
Let us pray in the name of hope,
In the name of justice,
In the name of truth.

Reprinted with permission from This Grateful Heart, © 2017 CCAR Press. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Here’s a link to a prayer “In Thanks for U.S. Democracy.”

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Photo Source: Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

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