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This blessed land in which we dwell
is rich in all the resources
for satisfying human wants,
and we, its people, have been amply endowed
with the strength, knowledge, and art
to convert these resources into the goods we need to live by.
But without the further blessing
of the spirit of justice,
we cannot build that civilization
which would give evidence
that we are created in God’s image. Cf. Genesis 1:27.
Without this further blessing
we cannot look upon our handiwork as a people
and say, “Behold, it is very good.” Cf. Genesis 1:31.
Humbly do we acknowledge
that unless you, O God, build the house,
they labor in vain that build it,
that unless our work serve you
and your kingdom of justice and peace,
it cannot truly serve us,
cannot help us to fulfill our manhood and womanhood
and to find joy and happiness in our labor.
Give us, O God, the wisdom
so to organize economic enterprise as to abolish
all poverty, drudgery, and exploitation—
all those social ills
that are both effect and cause
of humanity’s inhumanity.
Strengthen our faith
in the promise of a better day for our people
and for all peoples of the earth.
Give us the courage
to accept the hazards
and endure the hardships
which the creation of a free and cooperative society requires.
Then shall we find joy in our labor
and render eternal thanks to you
for the privilege of sharing in your work of creation,
O you who are the strength of our hands,
the wisdom of our minds,
and the spirit of love and loyalty in our hearts.
“Closing Prayer [for Labor Day]” was first published in The Faith of America: Readings, Songs, and Prayers for the Celebration of American Holidays (Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation 1951), p.190. It is unclear from this publication whether the prayer was written by Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, or Eugene Kohn separately or together in collaboration. I have replaced archaisms in this prayer (thee, thy, thou, etc.) and made other changes to make this prayer more gender-neutral (e.g. by replacing ‘man’ with ‘humanity.’) –Aharon Varady
“Closing Prayer for Labor Day, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, and Eugene Kohn (1951)” is shared through the Open Siddur Project with a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 Universal license.
Works of related interest:
The Dignity of Labor, a prayer for Labor Day by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, and Eugene Kohn (1951)
Opening Prayer on the Significance of Labor Day, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, and Eugene Kohn (1951)
Opening prayer for the 12th U.A.W.–C.I.O. Labor Convention in Milwaukee, by Rabbi Joseph Baron (1949)
Salvation through Labor, a prayer for the Sabbath before Labor Day, adapted from the writings of A.D. Gordon by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1945)
Opening Prayer on the Significance of New Year’s Day, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, and Eugene Kohn (1951)