Posts Tagged ‘peace’

 

Light from Beyond

Posted on: December 12th, 2023 by Alden No Comments

A Hanukkah poem about light. The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies — where I am the Liturgist in Residence — invited me to write a prayer poem for Hanukkah as part of its series “Illuminating Chanukah: Artistic Reflections on Jewish Texts.” Each artist was asked to interpret a Hanukkah text. This poem is an interpretation of a teaching of the Sefat Emet “that each Hannukah candle draws from the or haganuz, the hidden light of creation.” For the full text, go to Sefaria.

Light from Beyond
When you look
With all of your heart
Into the flames
Dedicated to miracles,
You may glimpse
That special light
God created
On the first day of existence.

How comforting to know
That God’s holiness
And majesty
Still reach this world
Of war and terror.

How wonderful to feel
That God’s love
And blessings
Still shine
To warm our souls.

How glorious to see
That mysteries from heaven
Still wait in secret
To bring joy and light
To all of creation.

When you look
With all of your heart
Into the Hanukkah lights,
You will see
That miracles
Beyond our sight
Will one day bring joy and peace
Beyond our deepest yearning.

© 2023 Alden Solovy and ToBendLight

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Postscript:

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: NOAA

Jerusalem Still Stands

Posted on: October 20th, 2023 by Alden No Comments

Two weeks have somehow passed since Israel was attacked and invaded. Jews around the world are now targets, as well. Here in Israel, shock and fear, sorrow and tears, have been joined with resolve and action. Our people are strong and resilliant. And Jerusalem still stands.

Jerusalem Still Stands
Two weeks
Have passed
Since rockets
Split the skies,
And invaders
Split our hearts.
Jerusalem
Still stands.

Two weeks
Have passed
Since our sons
Were abducted,
And our daughters
Taken hostage.
Jerusalem
Still stands.

Two weeks
Have passed
Since the blood
Of our people,
And tears of our nation,
Soaked the earth.
Jerusalem
Still stands.

Two weeks
Have passed
And our hearts still ache
And our souls still cry
While we storm
The gates of heaven
With our prayers.
Prayers for the captives.
Prayers for the murdered.
Prayers for the fallen.
Prayers for our soldiers.
Prayers for our people.
And Israel
Still stands.

עם ישראל חי
The people of Israel live.
The nation of Israel lives.
Jerusalem
Still stands.

© 2023 Alden Solovy and ToBendLight

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Postscript: This is one of nearly 10 pieces I’ve written since the invasion and war, including one song, “Nothing Left but Tears.”

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: Barry Leff, 20October23

Tears and Rain: A Prayer for Success in War

Posted on: October 9th, 2023 by Alden No Comments

On Shemini Atzeret — combined with Simchat Torah here in Israel — we began to say tefilat geshem the prayer for rain since the day marks the start of the rainy season here. That was the day of the devastating Hamas invasion into Israel which has led us to war. “Rain and Tears” is my second new prayer/poem since the invasion. The first is called “War on Simchat Torah.”

Tears and Rain: A Prayer for Success in War
We prayed for rain,
And we got tears.

Yes, we said the ancient words –
משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם
Masheev ha’ruach u’moreed hagashem
Acknowledging G-d as the One
Who makes the rain fall
And the wind blow,
But we got tears,
So many tears
Flowing like rain
That would not relent.
Tears for the dead.
Tears for the wounded.
Tears for the kidnapped,
And tears for the captives.
Tears for the soldiers.
Tears for the reservists.
Tears for our sons.
Tears for our daughters.
Tears for our friends,
And tears for our families.
Tears for our nation.
Tears for our people.
So many tears.

So many tears.

G-d, who makes the rain fall,
G-d, who makes tears on earth,
Send us Your tears from heaven,
But only if You send them
As blessings,
Only if You send them as signs
That You will be with us
As we defend our nation,
That You will be with us
As we fight to end the terror
That dwells in our midst,
The terror that still lurks at our doorstep.

© 2023 Alden Solovy and ToBendLight

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

After Israeli Elections, 2022

Posted on: November 4th, 2022 by Alden No Comments

The rise of far right wing, nationalist, extremist leaders in Israel’s politics and new government is frightening. This prayer, written yesterday for the leadership and Rabbinic cabinet of J Street, is being distributed for clergy use this Shabbat. I’m grateful to be asked to write this ‘rapid response’ prayer expressing fears and hopes for the State of Israel, my home. Along with this piece for J Street, I’ve previously been commissioned to write prayers for Israel by Areznu and the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

After Israeli Elections, 2022

God of history,
Shine the light of wisdom
Upon the State of Israel
And its newly elected leaders
As we stand
At the threshold of darkness.

O fear and warning,
That racists and xenophobes
Have been given voice and power
In a nation that should be, and could be,
A light unto the world.

O danger and despair,
That threatens to dismantle democracy,
To deepen the occupation,
To strip away human rights,
And aspires to theocracy.

God of generations,
We pray that you open the hearts of these leaders
So that the weight of office,
And the voice of chesed,
Changes them for good.
Then, Source and Shelter,
When You bless them to act with inspiration and insight,
Building our nation in Your image,
You will bless us all.

May we never tire in the work of peace.
May we never tire in the work of justice.
May we never give up on this land and this people.

May it be Your will,
God of our ancestors,
To grant safety and security
To all nations and communities,
So that truth and harmony will resound
From the four corners of the earth.

“After Israeli Elections, 2022” by Alden Solovy is © 2022 J-Street
Postscript: Here are some prayers for peace in Israel: “Children of Gaza, Children of Israel,” “For Peace in the Middle East,” “Peace Will Come,” and “When Peace Comes: A Meditation.” Here’s a prayer for the survival of Israel: “Israel: A Meditation.”

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

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.

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

Illustration Source: American Jewish World Service

For Three Leaders, For the World

Posted on: March 15th, 2022 by Alden No Comments

A new prayer for Ukraine and the world. The intention of this prayer is flexibility in use. The three middle stanzas can be removed from the prayer as the situation changes, or if a particular individual or congregation does not want to specifically name world leaders in prayer. It seems to me, however, that in this precarious moment prayers for key leaders are critical. They’re offered here as important, but optional as we all yearn for peace. Along with my “Hero of Ukraine,” this could be part of a multi-prayer liturgy for peace in the region and the world.

For Three Leaders, For the World
G-d of compassion,
Put an end to the war in Ukraine
And all wars throughout the world.
Look with favor on the refugees,
The homeless, the wounded,
The suffering, the starving,
And the newly bereaved.
Grant a perfect rest
Under Your canopy of peace
To those who have perished
At the ugly hand of war.
Extend Your canopy of peace
From the highest heavens
To this earth.

Bless Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
With continued strength and resolve
To defend his people against the onslaught,
Inspiring world sympathy and support.

Bless U.S. President Joe Biden
With wisdom and skill to face the challenge of history
As Europe prepares for a broader conflict
And fears world war.

Bless Russian President Vladimir Putin
With a change of mind,
A change of heart and soul,
To release the tools of war,
To pick up the tools of peace.

G-d of peace,
Release the citizens of Ukraine
From occupation and war.
Grant them resilience and vitality.
Give them comfort and hope.
End this violence and suffering.
For life renewed.
For healing and building.
For a better world.
“Let justice come in waves like water
And righteousness flow like a river” (Amos 5:24),
So that “nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).

© 2022 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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Postscript: See also: “Hero of Ukraine.”

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.

Photo Source: News Sites

Hero of Ukraine

Posted on: February 25th, 2022 by Alden No Comments

This prayer-poem for the people of Ukraine incorporates a quote from Ukrainian poet and artist Taras Shevchenko, writing from St. Petersburg Citadel Prison in May, 1847, who spent years imprisoned for his pro-Ukrainian independence activities in tsarist Russia. There’s a statue in his honor on the National Mall. The title, “Hero of the Ukraine,” is from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who called the soldiers killed today defending Snake Island “heroes of the Ukraine.”

Hero of Ukraine
Defenders of Ukraine,
You each will be called Hero,
Posthumous honor
For those who have died
In a war that has never ended,
Spanning centuries
Of Russian invasions and occupations.

How much blood and war
Has the Dnieper seen,
As the majestic river flows
From Kyiv to the Black Sea?
“Evil folk and wicked men
Attack our Ukraine, once so free.”

G-d of All,
Protector and Redeemer,
Watch over the people of the Ukraine
As their land is invaded,
Once again,
And war returns to the land.
Grant them safety and security,
Independence, freedom, and peace.
Watch over the soldiers
Forced into combat
To defend the nation,
And to protect their land and their homes.

G-d of Peace,
Bring a speedy end to this conflict,
And full restoration of the sovereignty to Ukraine.
Bring an end to all war, conflict, and strife,
So that Your promise of peace is fulfilled.

© 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.

Photo Source: NYT

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

Meditation for the End of Hanukkah

Posted on: December 17th, 2020 by Alden No Comments

After the eight days — after the Eternal Lamp stayed alight for eight days on one day of oil — the rededicated Temple was back in service to the Israelite nation. The miracle of the oil led to a renewed ability to serve G-d. For today, that echo make Hanukkah a call to rededicate of our lives to serving the Most High. See also “The Season of Dedication.” The idea for a post-Hanukkah meditation came from my friend Cantor Evan Kent.

Meditation for the End of Hanukkah
The miracle didn’t end
After eight days.
The miracle was about hearts,
The miracle was about hands,
Rededicated to the service
Of G-d and humanity,
Rededicated to Torah and mitzvot,
Rededicated to the Soul of the Universe.

The miracle didn’t end
After eight days of consecrated oil ran out,
Eight days of consecrated oil
Burning radiant in holy testimony
To G-d’s saving power.
The miracles of love and hope
Still shine luminous
In your heart.

We are surrounded by light.
We are sources of light.
We are mirrors of G-d’s light.

And so, we are called to serve the Most High,
With prayer and song,
With chesed and g’milut chasadim,
With tikkun and tikkun olam,
With ahava and ahavat chinam.
The miracle is ours now.
We will carry it into the world.
We will be the light itself.
The light of justice,
The light of peace.

© 2020 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.

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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: My Jewish Learning

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

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