Fred MacDowell: “Then, as now, war was looked upon by many as a great evil, especially between brothers, and many American Colonists only wanted the oppressive measures of King George III to be lifted, bloodshed ended, and peace restored. The nascent American Congress called for a day of “Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” along these lines for May 17, 1776. It was for this occasion that this prayer was recited in Congregation Shearith Israel in New York. As you can see, a complete service was arranged for this occasion, meant to invoke the solemnity and seriousness of the occasion; after morning prayer, Taḥanun was to be sung to the tune of a Yom Kippur pizmon; a dozen Psalms recited, and then the Ḥazan would recite this prayer written for the occasion, and of course all were to be fasting. The prayer hopes for a change of heart for King George III and his advisors, that they would rescind their wrath and harsh decrees against “North America,” that the bloodshed should end, and peace and reconciliation should obtain between the Americans and Great Britain once more, in fulfillment of the Messianic verse that Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Of course this was not meant to be, and six weeks later the American Congress declared independence from Great Britain, and there was no walking back from the hostilities which had already occurred.” . . .
We pray for those of us Who are so angry That we have lost compassion for the suffering Of anyone who is not a member of our group. And we pray for those of us Who cannot see the suffering Behind the loss of that compassion. We pray for the strength To resist the urge to inhumanity That we feel in times of fear and mourning. We pray for the courage To resist the calls to inhumanity That others may make upon us in times of crisis. . . .
Our God, and God of our ancestors, who answered Abraham when his son was bound on the altar, who remembered Sarah’s prayers in her tent for a child, and who found Hagar in the wilderness on the road to Shur, and who heard the cries of her child in the wilderness of Beer Shava, may He remember our Palestinian brothers and sisters who were killed, who were expelled, who fled, who were not allowed to return home, and those who are still at risk of losing their homes. . . .
Opportunities to express gratitude on secular, nationalist days of thanksgiving demand acknowledgement of an almost unfathomably deep history of trauma — not only the suffering and striving of my immigrant ancestors, but the sacrifice of all those who endured suffering dealt by their struggle to survive, and often failure to survive, the oppressions dealt by colonization, conquest, hegemony, natural disaster. Only the Earth (from which we, earthlings were born, Bnei Adam from Adamah) has witnessed the constancy of the violent deprivations we inflict upon each other. The privilege I’ve inherited from these sacrifices has come at a cost, and it must be honestly acknowledged, especially on secular/national days of thanksgiving, independence, and freedom. I insert this prayer after Al Hanissim in the Amidah and in the Birkat Hamazon on national days of independence and thanksgiving. . . .
For the sin which we have committed before You through diminishing the image of God. . . .
Jews use the Kaddish to mourn the dead, though it has in it only one word — “nechamata,” consolations – which hints at mourning. And this word itself is used in a puzzling way, once we look at it with care. As we will see below, it may be especially appropriate in time of war. The interpretive English translation below may also be appropriate for prayers of mourning and hope in wartime by other spiritual and religious communities. In this version, changes in the traditional last line of the Hebrew text specifically include not only peace for the people Israel (as in the traditional version) but also for the children of Abraham and Hagar through Ishmael (Arabs and Muslims) and for all the life-forms who dwell upon this planet. . . .
In the wake of the continued uprooting of fruit trees and human settlements in the Land of Israel, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights shared the following petitionary prayer. . . .
How is it that El-Arakib sits alone and desolate, like a widow a seventh time? “The Daughter of Zion has lost her glory.” (Lamentations 1:6) For, while we had dreamed that our state would “Ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or gender,” (Israeli Declaration of Independence) our prayers have not yet been fulfilled. . . .