Posts Tagged ‘writing prayer’

 

Sowing Light: A Prayer/Poem Inspired by Text

Posted on: May 22nd, 2020 by Alden No Comments

This prayer/poem is inspired by Psalm 97, recited at Kabbalat Shabbat. The Psalm ends with this: “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart…” (Psalm 97:11-12) What if, in the tradition of the rabbis, we changed one word to reexplore the meaning? Instead of “…for the righteous…” use “…by the righteous…” This prayer reimagines the closing couplet after changing that one word. Join me on Ritualwell for a four-week immersion class on Writing from Sacred Text.

Sowing Light
Light is sown by the righteous,
Tucked into cracks in the sidewalks,
Dropped in the grass,
Breathed into the air,
Left waiting for others to find.

You who are upright in heart,
Let your deeds declare your love,
Let your hands be a source of healing,
Let your joy be a fountain of blessing.

Rejoice in righteousness,
And spread holiness throughout your days.
Light is sown for you
To magnify in service to G-d’s holy name.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day

Postscript: Midrash Psalms 97:2 interprets the line to mean that a great spiritual light, created at the beginning of all things, was set aside by G-d for the righteous as their reward at the end of days. As a result, Siddur Sim Shalom breaks with the classic translation – the translation found in both Mishkan T’fillah and the Koren Sacks Siddur – by rendering the line as “Light is stored for the righteous…” This prayer appears in my book This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

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: Selma in the City

Guest Writers: Students at United Hebrew Congregation

Posted on: January 2nd, 2019 by Alden No Comments

In the fall, as part of a liturgist/scholar-in-residence Shabbat, I had the pleasure leading a prayer writing workshop with students at United Hebrew Congregation, St. Louis. After talking about Jewish worship, the students worked in teams to write new prayers using an interactive, game-based process. Here’s some of what the students wrote. I added line breaks, capitalizations and some of the punctuation. The words are exactly as written by the students.

From Paige, Zacharia, Noah, Emily, Maxwell, Adam and Josh
One
Praise Adonai, our God,
Sovereign of the Universe!
Blessed is the eternal flame of life
And the holy spirit of Israel.
We cherish Your guidance
And proclaim Your holiness.

Two
Thank you, God,
For healing our hearts
And wiping away our tears of sorrow.
Help us with guidance and forgiveness,
While pushing away hatred and slander.
Grant us safety from war and protect our families

From Caleb, Spencer, Brian, Maggie, Kaley, Jacob and Russell
One
Sorry.
I regret running from responsibility.
Listen Eternal,
And answer my prayer.
May Adonai help us climb from darkness and sorrow
And bless us with rebirth of mind.

Two
Ruler of the Universe,
Heal my friend.
Heal my loved ones.
Provide my family with food.
Forgive our sins.
Heal and serve all, kindly.
Allow our happiness.
Allow my apologies.

Three
God of all the Universe,
We give thanks for You.
Grant us happiness, life and Torah.
Reach out
And connect us with Israel.

© 2018 United Hebrew Congregation

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Postscript: Thanks to Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg, Cori Neidenberg and the entire team at United Hebrew Congregation for a very special weekend. See also Guest Writers: Confirmation Students, Temple Beth El, Knoxville.

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: United Hebrew Congregation website

Guest Writers: Confirmation Students, Temple Beth El, Knoxville

Posted on: July 19th, 2018 by Alden No Comments

As part of the final year of confirmation class, Rabbi Erin Boxt of Temple Beth El, Knoxille, used my three books — including This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day — to inspire and teach prayer and prayer writing. The students also learned about prayer with me via video-conference. Each had the opportunity to write a prayer for their confirmation service. Lauren Sydney Dryzer wrote three prayers; Benjamin Garcia Margulies wrote two.

Three from Lauren Sydney Dryzer
One
Open up my eyes to see the truth,
And let me realize that I have been avoiding reason.
Show me what I’ve been hiding,
Adonai, show me the way to holiness.

I have spent years telling myself the same lies
That I need to conform:
Look the same, act the same, be the same.

The truth can open my eyes
So that I can see I am who I am for a reason.
Adonai gave me this body,
And it is my responsibility to treat it with kindness,
To treat it with love,
And to treat it like it is holy.

Two
Shine light on the darkness,
And cut through misperceptions.
Give me strength to take on this burden,
Adonai, give me sight to perceive lies.

The light of my life is in
The smiles of my friends,
The joy of giving,
The bittersweet ending of a chapter
That leads to a beginning.
Adonai, this and many more of your gifts
Can lighten up the world.

My shoulders are weary,
And it seems that soon they will break.
Yet, You let me realize
That true strength
Is not in pondering how much longer to go,
But in how far I’ve come.

Everywhere, lies persist;
They come from all of the people in your life.
What You have shown me is that
I need to fix this lie before any others:
“I am happy where I currently am.”
Oh, let me continue to grow,
To never be content,
And to always search for more.

Three
Guide me to opportunities,
And bless me with good fortune.
Ready me for the future,
Adonai, ready me for redemption.

I see a future with endless passion and charity,
I see a future where I don’t question if I love who I am,
I see a future with people living in coexistence,
I see a future where my generation changes the world.

I want a future with no poverty,
I want a future where every child has an education,
I want a future with no hunger,
I want a future where all communities work together
To help those who cannot help themselves.

I am the future of my parents and of my ancestors,
I am the future of my classmates and of my friends,
I am the future of my country and of my religion
I am the future of a movement and of a world,
And I cannot and will not surrender until this is the future.

Two from Benjamin Garcia Margulies
One
G-d you stand by me
Together we stand in the shadow of the big and small tasks before me
I know that you will guide me through the large
But I also ask for strength with the small
For I know many small things become a large task I thank you G-d

Two
G-d, whose plan is more masterful than yours?
In your pursuit to teach me you place challenges before me
Challenges I asked for help with
And help I did receive
You gave me strength to be persistent
And taught me to seek the help of others
And for that I must thank you G-d
And await the coming challenges you have prepared for me

© 2018 Temple Beth El, Knoxville. All rights reserved.

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Postscript: This innovative project — using my books as texts for confirmation students — was conceived by Rabbi Boxt. Rabbi Boxt has been a long-time supporter of my work and innovator in the use of this work. When he was at HUC-JIR, he was the first to use pieces of my work as part of a rabbinic thesis.

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: Temple Beth El, Knoxille

Guest Writers: 7th Graders at Temple Beth Jacob

Posted on: February 8th, 2018 by Alden No Comments

Inspired by my Six-Word Prayer Facebook community, Rabbi Robin Nafshi, Temple Beth Jacob in Concord, NH, asked the 7th graders to sum up three Jewish prayers in six words: Maariv Aravim, Ahavat Olam and Mi Chamocha. Each student wrote a six-word prayer. The class put them together to make three eight-line, six-word prayers. The activity was part of a project creating art for a Shabbat Service. Here are those prayers, written by Alex, Anna, Emily, Judah, Julia, Rachel, Sam and Sammi. This post is part of a new addition here: occasionally featuring guest writers.

Ma-ariv Aravim
Ruler of all, Creator of life
You created Day, night, light, darkness
Earth is now whole, thank You
Thanks for giving light in darkness
Sky and night, light the way
You created us all, so thanks
Change is always happening to us
Thanks God for seasons and days

Ahavat Olam
We always love family and friends
I love God for everything done
We love You, You love us
You protect Israel and teach us
Thanks for Torah, thanks for Love
One God loves us through Torah
Everlasting love learned in the Torah
Torah teaches us, yet I wonder

Mi Chamocha
You saved us, gave us peace
You’ve saved us, we are thankful
The sea splitting, saving the people
God saved us, we thank You
Thanks for helping us leave Egypt
God’s glory is shown to children
Creation is everything, God is one
You saved us, and are one

Prayers are © 2018 Temple Beth Jacob, Concord, NH

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Postscript: I’ve begun offering workshops for adults and teens using six-word prayers as a teaching tool. Here’s an article on Six-Word Prayers by my friend and Eli talks companion, Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer. And here, again, is a link to the Six-Word Prayer Facebook community. Read the prayer of my first Guest Writer, Eliza Scheffler, also an HUC-JIR student, by clicking here.

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.

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