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Prayer at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom by Rabbi Uri Miller, August 28, 1963

Prayer delivered by Rabbi Uri Miller, President of the Synagogue Council of America, at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963


Our fathers’ God, God of the spirits of all flesh, we invoke Thy blessing upon this assemblage of citizens who have gathered here to demonstrate for freedom, bread, and the dignity of man.

Thou hast endowed all men equally with the right to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness.

Enable us, through this demonstration, to sensitize all Americans—and especially those in positions of power and authority—to this concept of equality.

May we understand that when we deprive our fellow man of bread and dignity, we negate the tzelem Elohim, the image of God in man, and delay the fulfillment of Thy kingdom.

Enable us to understand that our society, the American people, is of one piece—that when any part of this society suffers, we all suffer.

May we understand that he who discriminates is as morally hurt as the one discriminated against is physically hurt; that he who is prejudiced may injure the object of his prejudice, but he also degrades the society of which he is a part.

Above all, we pray we become cognizant in ever-increasing measure that our religious ideals must be fulfilled in actual living experience; our traditions must be given flesh in the form of social justice, now.

Freedom, pride, and dignity must not be empty words, nor even sincere ideals projected into some messianic future, but actualities expressed in our society in concrete and tangible form, now.

May we never forfeit our liberties, nor condone cowardice, prejudice, and self-indulgence.

May we ever expand the area of human freedom in our midst and thus serve Thee and Thy law of love and justice.

May we demonstrate our gratitude for the blessed privilege of living under the Stars and Stripes by giving to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. Banish hatred, pride, and arrogance from our midst and inspire us to do justice, to love mercy, and walk humbly with Thee.

Hasten Thou the coming of the happy day when the message of Thy prophet shall be fulfilled, when men shall break their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and no longer learn the art of war, when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Amen.


Source

after Isaiah 2:4
after Habakkuk 2:14

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