Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

 

Lamentation from Both Sides of the Fence

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

On a bus-stop bench in my Jerusalem neighborhood this morning, a couple in Muslim garb spoke softly to each other. On the same bench, an ultra-Orthodox man sat studying Talmud. Signs of hope for peace, for coexistence, are abundant in this city. They’ve been overwhelmed by images and emotions from actions at the Gaza border fence. What do we say to G-d in these moments of anguish? We cry in pain, we beseech heaven with our lamentations, and we beseech each other with our wailing. We ask, isn’t there a better way?

Crafted to avoid politics or accusation, this lament is for everyone who has hardened their positions, be they politically right or left, Israeli or Palestinian. It’s for everyone on both sides of the fence and around the world who claim to know the truth, the undeniable validity of their views and exactly who to blame. It asks simply this: that we weep together. The first stanza alludes to Isaiah 2:4: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” The final stanza quotes Lamentations 1:16: “For these things do I weep, my eyes are flowing with tears.”

Let this wailing crack open our hearts to each other: Jew to Jew, Jew to Muslim, Muslim to Jew, Muslim to Muslim, Israeli to Palestinian, Palestinian to Israeli. And after we wail, let us pray for peace, let us pray that we sit together on the same benches, in friendship, creating a new legacy, together.

Lamentation from Both Sides of the Fence
Oh, my people,
Look at what we’ve done,
And look at what we’ve become,
Hardening our hearts,
Shutting our eyes,
Closing our minds,
Banishing justice and love from our midst,
Turning fears into swords,
And hopes into spears,
Defending, always defending,
Our divine rights
To sovereign land.

Woe to the land that has soaked up so much blood.
Woe to the sky that has witnessed so much death.
Woe to the sea that cannot calm our grieving souls.

You who cast peace and prosperity to the winds,
Chasing hope to the clouds,
Banishing sanity to the netherworlds,
We have lost too many sons,
We have grieved too many daughters,
We rend our clothes and sit in sackcloth too often,
And we are crying, always crying,
Deep in our veins.

Alas!
Darkness marches and madness sings,
‘Keep on, keep on, for this is the only path,’
While death dances with glee shouting,
‘Keep on, keep on, there is no other way.’

Oh, my people,
Look at what we’ve done,
And look at what we’ve become.
For these things do I weep,
My eyes are flowing with tears:
For the dead,
For the children,
For our aching hearts,
For this yearning for peace.

© 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: See also “For Peace in the Middle East” and “When Peace Comes: 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 Source: PranaShanti

For Aleppo and Syria

Posted on: October 17th, 2016 by Alden No Comments

img_0712In a vicious and cruel civil war, Aleppo has become a symbol of suffering and brutality, along with thousands upon thousands of Syrian refugees. This prayer ends with the hope that a nation of justice and peace will spring forth from this tragedy.

ADDENDUM, April 4, 2017: This week, the people of Syria faced the worst chemical attack in years. As of April 7, after the U.S. bombing raid, I’ve added a reference to chemical attacks and Idlib Province to this prayer, where the attack took place.

For Aleppo and Syria
G-d of All,
Protector and Redeemer,
Watch over the people of Syria
As they endure a prolonged  and brutal civil war.
May a world of justice, righteousness and mercy
Come decisively to their aid.
Grant physical and emotional safety to
Citizens and residents,
And all who dwell there,
During this time of struggle and strife.

Grant deliverance to the residents of Aleppo and Idlib Province,
The children and the beleaguered,
Battered,
Torn apart by unrelenting bombardment,
And chemical attacks,
Surrounded by violence,
Enduring as food and electricity run low.
Let relief reach them quickly.
Bless all of the Syrian refugees
With safety and security.

End this campaign of terror
And set the people of Syria on the course
To a peaceful and prosperous future.
Grant them new leaders with courage and wisdom,
Rebuilding the land,
Creating a haven of justice and freedom for all.

Source and Shelter,
Grant peace to all nations,
So that truth and harmony resound
From the four corners of the earth.

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

© 2016 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Please take a moment to read “For Peace in the Middle East” and “Israel: A Meditation.” This prayer is a revision and expansion of a prayer “For Syria” that first appeared here on July 8, 2012.

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: BBC/Reuters

For Syria

Posted on: July 8th, 2012 by tobendlight No Comments

This is a prayer for the people of Syria. According to CNN, “…more than 10,000 people have been killed since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011. What started as peaceful protests against the regime spiraled into a bloody government crackdown and armed uprising…”

This prayer is based on a prayer “For Libya,” which is based on a prayer “For Egypt.”

For Syria
G-d of All,
Protector and Redeemer,
Watch over the people of Syria
As they face war, revolt, violence and unrest.
Grant physical and emotional safety to
Citizens and residents,
And all who dwell there,
During this time of struggle and strife.
May a world of justice, righteousness and mercy
Come swiftly to their aid.
Grant wisdom and courage to its leaders
So that they end their campaign of terror
And begin the journey toward a peaceful and prosperous future.
Lead them on the path of justice.
Direct them on the road to freedom.
Make them a shining light of peace.

Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security to all nations,
So that truth and harmony resound
From the four corners of the earth.
May this time of struggle and challenge for Syria
Become a blessing for its inhabitants
And for the world.

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

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

Postscript: This was adapted from “For Libya,” which was based on a prayer “For Egypt.” Please take a moment to read “For Peace in the Middle East” and “Israel: A Meditation.”

If you like this prayer, post a link to your Facebook page, your blog or as part of a tweet. And don’t forget to click “like” on this page. Thanks. Please subscribe. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see Share the Prayer!

Freedom and Liberation

Posted on: July 3rd, 2012 by tobendlight No Comments

As the U.S. celebration of the 4th of July kicks into gear, here’s a prayer for freedom and liberation for people of all nations. It comes from my series of prayers For A Better World, including: “Against Human Trafficking,” “Against Poverty” and “Against Worker Exploitation.” Here are links to prayers written for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

To listen while you read, click on the triangle in the bar above below.

Against Tyranny
G-d of the oppressed,
G-d of the subjugated and exploited,
The voice of freedom echoes across the land,
A hunger for liberation
And an end to the reign of tyrants.
Our brothers,
Beaten and abused,
Our sisters,
Dominated and forgotten,
Rise up to face the despot
Risking life and limb
In the name of the future,
With the dream of emancipation.

Source of mercy,
Rock of generations,
You have led people to deliverance in every age.
Bless those who struggle against cruelty and oppression.
Grant them courage and fortitude,
Safety and strength.
May their purpose remain righteous
And their vision focused on peace.

Bring an end to the rule of dictators in every land.
Release the hand of cruelty and evil.
Thwart the hand of brutality and slaughter.
Grant a swift end to violence,
So that renewal and rebuilding can begin
And hope renewed.

Bless a new government with wisdom and compassion
To give meaning to the uprising and suffering.
Let honorable nations lend skill and resources
To the leaders who emerge from this struggle.

Blessed are You, G-d of All,
Who summons us to free the captive,
Pursue justice
And oppose the reign of tyrants.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

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.

For Libya

Posted on: September 1st, 2011 by tobendlight No Comments

This is a prayer for the people of Libya so that the Arab Spring will herald a new era of safety and prosperity for all people, peace and stability for all nations. Can you image a synagogue reopened there? To listen along, click on the triangle in the bar below (website only). The text follows.

For Libya
G-d of All,
Protector and Redeemer,
Watch over the people of Libya
As they face war, revolt, violence and unrest.
Grant physical and emotional safety to
Citizens and residents, visitors and guests,
During this time of struggle and strife.
Grant wisdom and courage to its new leaders,
And insight to its advisors,
So that they forge a peaceful and prosperous future.
Lead them on a path toward justice.
Direct them on the road to freedom.
Make them a shining light of peace.

Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security to all nations,
So that truth and harmony resound
From the four corners of the earth.
May this time of challenge for Libya
Become a blessing for its inhabitants
And for the world.

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

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

Postscript: This was adapted for Libya from a prayer “For Egypt.” Please take a moment to read “For Peace in the Middle East” and “Israel: A Meditation.” Thanks to my friends Ros Roucher and Rabbi Paul Kipnes, Congregation Or Ami, Calabasas, Calif., for their comments on a draft of this prayer.

If you like this prayer, post a link to your Facebook page, to your blog or as part of a tweet. And don’t forget to click “like” on this page. Thanks.

Please subscribe. For reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” in the right hand column.

Against Tyranny

Posted on: February 24th, 2011 by tobendlight No Comments

This is a prayer for the end of tyrannical rule. To listen while you read, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

 

Against Tyranny
G-d of the oppressed,
G-d of the subjugated and exploited,
The voice of freedom echoes across the land,
A hunger for liberation
And an end to the reign of tyrants.
Our brothers,
Beaten and abused,
Our sisters,
Dominated and forgotten,
Rise up to face the despot
Risking life and limb
In the name of the future,
With the dream of emancipation.

Source of mercy,
Rock of generations,
You have led people to deliverance in every age.
Bless those who struggle against cruelty and oppression.
Grant them courage and fortitude,
Safety and strength.
May their purpose remain righteous
And their vision focused on peace.

Bring an end to the rule of dictators in every land.
Release the hand of cruelty and evil.
Thwart the hand of brutality and slaughter.
Grant a swift end to violence,
So that renewal and rebuilding can begin
And hope renewed.

Bless a new government with wisdom and compassion
To give meaning to the uprising and suffering.
Let honorable nations lend skill and resources
To the leaders who emerge from this struggle.

Blessed are You, G-d of All,
Who summons us to free the captive,
Pursue justice
And oppose the reign of tyrants.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Other prayers in this series include: “Against Human Trafficking” and “Against Poverty.”

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.

For Egypt

Posted on: February 5th, 2011 by tobendlight No Comments

As Egypt faces monumental change, here’s a prayer for the nation, its people and the world. To listen as you read, click on the triangle in the bar below. The text follows.

For Egypt
G-d of All,
Protector and Redeemer,
Watch over the people of Egypt
As their nation faces struggle and strife
On the journey toward hope and promise.
Grant safety to its citizens and residents,
Visitors and guests,
During moments of unrest.
Grant wisdom and courage to its leaders,
Insight to its advisors,
And understanding to its friends.
Lead them on a path toward justice.
Direct them on the road to freedom.
Guide them on the way to prosperity.
Make them a shining light of peace.

Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security to all nations,
So that truth and harmony resound
From the four corners of the earth.

Blessed are You, G-d of All,
Forging nations and peoples
In the crucible of change
Throughout history.
May this time of challenge for Egypt
Become a blessing for its inhabitants and for the world.

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

Postscript: I used this piece as the basis of of prayer “For Libya.” Here’s a prayer “For the Women of Congo and Sudan,” as well as prayers “For Peace in the Middle East” and “Israel.”

Please use these prayers. See “Share the Prayer!” in the right hand column.

 For notices of new prayers posted here, please subscribe. To read four to six mini-prayers each week, as well as notices of new prayers posted to the site, please join the To Bend Light fan page on Facebook.

For Peace in the Middle East

Posted on: April 14th, 2010 by tobendlight No Comments

peace_in_the_middle_east_logo_2[1]This is a prayer about remembering. Yes, it is a prayer for peace, but it is about remembering. What have we forgotten? Jews and Muslims, Palestinians and Israelis, share a common lineage. We are brothers and sisters. Click on the triangle in the bar below to listen while you read. The text follows. For more prayers about Israel — including “Israel: A Meditation” and “When Peace Comes” — please click here.

 

For Peace in the Middle East
Sons of Abraham,
Sons of Hagar and Sarah,
Of Isaac and Ishmael:
Have you forgotten the day we buried our father?
Have you forgotten the day we carried his dead body into the cave near Hebron?
Have you forgotten the day we entered the darkness of Machpaelah
To lay our Patriarch to rest?

Sons of Esau and Jacob:
Have you forgotten the day we made peace?
The day we set aside past injustices and deep wounds to lay down our weapons and live?
Or the day we, too, buried our father? Have you forgotten that we took Isaac’s corpse into that humble cave
To place him with his father for eternity?

Brother, I don’t remember crying with you.
Sister, I don’t remember mourning with you.
We should have cried the tears of generations.
We should have cried the tears of centuries,
The tears of fatherless sons
And motherless daughters,
So that we would remember in our flesh that we are one people,
From one father on earth and one Creator in heaven,
Divided only by time and history.

One G-d,
My brother calls you Allah.
My sister calls you Adonai.
You speak to some through Moses.
You speak to some through Mohammed.
We are one family, cousins and kin.

Holy One,
Light of truth,
Source of wisdom and strength,
In the name of our fathers and mothers,
In the name of justice and peace,
Help us to remember our history,
To mourn our losses together,
So that we may,
Once more,
Lay down our weapons and live.

G-d of All Being,
Bring peace and justice to the land,
And joy to our hearts.

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

Postscript: The repetition in this prayer is deliberate–asking “have you forgotten?”–and calling on readers to “remember.” Another deliberate repetition: the use of the  words “peace” and “justice,” which resonate for all sides of the conflict. This was originally posted for Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, and Yom HaAtzma’ut, Israeli Independence Day, April 19 and 20, 2010. Could there be a better way to honor fallen soldiers — or to celebrate independence — than to make peace? Special thanks to Rabbi Peter Knobel for his guidance. For more prayers about Israel and prayers for peace, 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.

“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