This is a prayer for Jews to love each other and not to commit acts of violence against one another. It is part lament and part admonition. This revision is a response to the attack by Jewish settlers on Jewish volunteers helping with a Palestinian olive harvest. An 80-year-old rabbi was among those attacked and beaten by Jews. A friend and a teacher at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Rabbi Meesh Hammer- Kossoy, who was there, wrote, in part:
“The rug has been pulled out from under the truths on which I build my life. I have been betrayed by my own. My understandings of where I am safe and who will come to my aid or endanger me have been shaken. I am painfully aware of how much worse things could have been. Nevertheless, I refuse to let fear run my life. I remain committed to my belief that people, Jews and non-Jews alike, are generally good, that Torat Yisrael is Torat Chessed, that multiple narratives can co-exist.”
I first posted this prayer after my own experience of being attacked by Jews. Charlie Kalech and I were beaten after helping facilitate the use of a sefer Torah by Women of the Wall at the Kotel on Rosh Chodesh Iyyar, April 22, 2015. This revision adds a plea against violence, which was absent from the original piece, as well as the addition of a line from Psalms.
Jew against Jew, Revised
Oh my people,
What has happened to your heart?
What has happened to your vision?
And what has happened to your wisdom?
And what has happened to our love for one another?
Fear and anger yielding violence,
A rising hatred of Jew against Jew
That threatens to consume us.
Sinat chinam has attacked the soul of our people.
G-d of our fathers and mothers,
Grant us a new wisdom and a new vision
To see beauty and holiness
In all of the tents of Israel.
Let no Jew lift a hand of anger against another.
.למען אחי ורעי, אדברה-נא שלום בך
Lma-an achai vrei-ai, adab’rah na shalom bach.
For the sake of my companions and friends,
I will speak of peace. (Ps. 122:8)
G-d of Old,
Guide us back to each other
With reverence and understanding.
Renew our days with love.
Then we will build a temple of song to Your Holy Name,
Resounding from heart to heart,
From soul to soul,
From generation to generation,
The whole House of Israel.
Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d,
You delight in Your people’s love.
© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
Postscript: My reaction to my attack was similar to Meesh’s when I wrote: “Do not hate the man who stomped on me. Rail against his misogyny, object to what he was taught, condemn his behavior, seek justice against his violence, if that’s even possible, and seek change in Israeli democracy. But don’t use what happened to me to justify hate or prejudice of anyone.” I first wrote the prayer as an assignment from Rabba Yaffa Epstein at Pardes after a semester of studying the Amidah, a central prayer in Jewish liturgy. May one day soon we forget violence, on that day the love of Torah will be shared equally, with joy, among all of our people.
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Photo Source: Rabbis for Human Rights via Times of Israel