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Opening Prayer on the Significance of Washington’s Birthday, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, and Eugene Kohn (1951)

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On this day, sacred to the memory of George Washington,
we gratefully renew our loyalty to our nation,
of which he was the foremost founder.

We rededicate ourselves
to the cause of national freedom,
a cause to which he remained steadfast
through peril, hardship, treachery, and disaster,
until victory was won
and the new nation safely launched.

God, grant that this day arouse in us
the will to make of this nation
the best that it can become,
to justify the faith which the Founding Fathers reposed in it.

May the ample resources
with which nature has blessed our country
nurture a nation of men and women
and free.

May the government
which its people set up
ever protect their liberties,
advance their welfare,
shield them against disloyalty from within
and aggression from without.
May it establish just and friendly relations
between us and all the other peoples of the world.

May the citizens of our country
ever live together in mutual trust and good will.
May they know the joy of creative labor
in farm and in workshop,
in studio and laboratory.
Be theirs a religious faith
free from bigotry and superstition,
a piety that cherishes all things good and gracious
which glorify the Source of all life.

This closing prayer for Washington’s Birthday was first published in The Faith of America: Readings, Songs, and Prayers for the Celebration of American Holidays (Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation 1951), p. 51. I have replaced archaisms in this prayer (thee, thy, thou, etc.) and made other related changes. –Aharon Varady





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