חננו דעה בינה והשכל, ברוך אתה ה’ שחננת לנו דע קודשך. Grace us with knowledge, understanding, and insight. Blessed are You, HASHEM, for You have graced us with the knowledge of Your holiness. חננו סליחה וכפרה על כל עונותינו ומרידתינו ושפלותינו, ברוך אתה ה’ שסלחת לעונותינו. Grace us with forgiveness and absolution for all . . .
Below we have made a faithful transcription of the text of the medieval Megillat Yehudith (the Scroll of Judith), not to be confused with the deutero-canonical Book of Judith, authored in Antiquity. We have further set this text side-by-side with the English translation made by Susan Weingarten, originally published as “Food, Sex, and Redemption in Megillat Yehudit: Appendix to Chapter 6,” in Sword of Judith. ed., Kevin R. Brine, Elena Ciletti, Henrike Lähnemann (Open Book Publishers, 2010) p.110-125. Our transcription sources are the same as Dr. Weingarten’s: A.M. Habermann’s transcribed text in “Megillat yehudit le-omrah be-hanukkah,” Mahanayim 52 (1961), pp. 42–47, and the “Midrash No.8” found in A.M. Dubarle’s Judith: formes et sens des diverses traditions II: textes (Rome, 1966), pp. 140–53. Dubarle provided section numbers by which the extant variations of the midrashim for Judith might be compared. As Dr. Weingarten notes, Dubarle only transcribed the second portion of the only extant manuscript. We have provided his section numbers in curly brackets. “Missing” numbers refer to portions of the story appearing outside the Megillah in the other variations transcribed by Dubarle. (Please refer to Dubarle’s work for these.) We are grateful to Dr. Weingarten and to Open Book Publishers for sharing their work under an Open Content license. Please read Dr. Weingarten’s complete chapter in Sword of Judith for additional context. . . .
על הניסים ועל הפורקן ועל הגבורות ועל המלחמות ועל התשועות ועל הנפלאות שעשית לעמך בימים ההם בזמן הזה. בימים אשר שארית פליטת ישראל עם שרידי חרב הצר והאויב מצא מנוח בארץ אשר נשבעת לאבותינו לתת לנו ונוספו על בני ישראל היושבים שם מלפנים, יחד כולם ביקשו לפרוק מעליהם עול מלכות זדון השולטת בארץ ולייסד . . .
A translation in Arabic and English of Rabbi Nava Hafetz’s prayer for the children of the world: Creator of all life, sovereign of peace, Bless our children and the children of all the world With physical, emotional, and spiritual health. You who created them in Your image And lovingly imbued them with Your spirit, Let their paths be successful in this world that You created. Give them of Your resilience and strengthen the sinews of their bodies and minds. Guard and save them from all evil For Your mercy and truth abound. Grant peace to the Land and everlasting happiness to all its inhabitants. Amen, may it be Your will . . .
Although God often speaks to humanity in the rumble of earthquakes, the roaring of wind and the thunder of storms, God spoke to Elijah, instead, in a still small voice. And, it was the nurturing power of the still small voice that slowly gave Elijah the courage and strength to be able to peek out of his deep abyss. On this night when we welcome Elijah to join our celebration, we acknowledge those who are so pained that they cannot fully celebrate, for joy eludes them. Although we may witness their physical wound with our eyes, we must also find ways to become attuned to their spiritual hurt and their emotional despair. The blood from the wound in their heart may not be visible and the cry in the depth of their throat may not be audible unless we train ourselves to attend to them. But, they are there. Our challenge is see and hear the pain of those whose depression affects their lives. Our response does not have to be bold in order to make a difference. A still small voice can transform a frown into a smile. A caring whisper that says, “I care” can raise a stooped head. A tender embrace can provide salve to a soul racked with pain. . . .
A prayer to be recited upon donating blood. In Israel, there are major blood drives around the times of Rosh Hashana and Pesaḥ, so the prayer borrows themes from both of those holidays. It emphasizes both the tzedaka aspect of blood donation and the ancient symbolic resonances of blood sacrifice. . . .
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. . . .
We are grateful to Rabbi Joshua Boettinger and Rabbis for Human Rights–North America (RHR-NA) for sharing the following petitionary prayer, A Misheberakh for Victims of Slavery. Originally published by RHR-NA on their website in 2009, the prayer attends to the desperate need to eradicate all forms of slavery that persist today, especially in advance of the holiday celebrating our Z’man Cheruteinu, the season of our freedom, every Spring, every Pesaḥ. . . .
God and God of my forefathers and foremothers, as I stand here in an innermost room and pray, so too should you in an innermost room heed my questions, my praises and my requests, both from the utterances of my mouth and the utterances of my heart. Even if I am silent, you will know that my tefilla is directed towards you, who is One and whose name is One, alone in all the worlds. My heart is awake and my voice knocks. Open for me, my Lord, my Perfect One, the gates of Tefilla. . . .