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Prayer for a Thanksgiving Day Shabbat Service in Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of Jewish Settlement in the United States (1905)


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O Lord, our God,
God of our fathers, Ruler of nations,
we worship Thee and praise Thy name
for Thy mercy and for Thy truth.
On this day of our rejoicing
we will make mention of Thy loving kindness
according to all that Thou hast bestowed on us
and we will proclaim Thy great goodness
toward the house of Israel.
For Thou didst say,
“Surely they are My people,
children that will not deal falsely;
so Thou hast been our Savior.” (Isaiah 63:8)
Throughout the past ages
Thou hast carried Israel as on eagles’ wings.
From the bondage of Egypt,
through the trials of the wilderness,
Thou didst bring us and didst plant us
in the land which Thou didst choose.
In the sorrows of Babylon,
Thy love and pity redeemed us;
and when dispersed in every land,
Thy Divine presence accompanied us
in every affliction.
Yea, when we passed through the waters,
Thou wast with us,
and through the rivers,
they did not overflow us;
when we walked through fire,
we were not burned.
From nation to nation Thou didst lead us,
until the hand of the oppressor was weakened
and the day of human rights began to dawn.
Wherever we found a resting place,
and built Thee a sanctuary,
Thou didst dwell in our midst,
and cleaving unto Thee, O Lord,
we are alive this day.
We thank Thee
that Thou hast sustained us unto this day,
and that in the fullness of Thy mercy
Thou hast vouchsafed to us of the seed of Israel
a soil on which to grow strong in freedom
and in fidelity to Thy truth.
Thou hast opened unto us
this blessed haven of our beloved land.
Everlasting God,
in whose eyes a thousand years are as yesterday
which is past and as a watch of the night,
we lift up our hearts in gratitude to Thee,
in that two hundred and fifty years ago
Thou didst guide a little band of Israel’s children
who, seeking freedom to worship Thee,
found it in a land which, with Thy blessing,
became a refuge of freedom and justice
for the oppressed of all peoples.
We thank Thee
that our lot has fallen in pleasant places.
Verily, O Lord God of Israel,
Thou hast given rest unto Thy people,
rest from our sorrow, and from the hard bondage
wherein we were made to serve.
O Lord,
look down from Thy holy habitation from heaven
and bless this Republic.
Preserve it in the liberty which has been proclaimed in the land,
and in the righteousness which is its foundation.
Bless it with prosperity and peace.
May it advance from strength to strength
and continue to be a refuge for all who seek its shelter.
Imbue all its citizens
with a spirit of loyalty to its ideals.
May they be ever mindful
that the blessings of liberty are safeguarded
by obedience to law,
and that the prosperity of the nation rests
upon trust in Thy goodness
and reverence for Thy commandments.
Bless the President
and his counselors,
the judges,
and executives of our country.
Put forth upon them
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and the spirit of might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
May America become
a light to all peoples,
teaching the world
that righteousness exalteth a nation.
Our Father in Heaven,
Who lovest all nations,
all men are Thy children.
Thou dost apportion tasks to peoples
according to their gifts of mind and heart.
But all are revealing Thy marvelous plans for mankind.
May the day speedily dawn
when Thy kingdom will be established on earth,
when nations shall learn war no more,
when peace shall be the crowning reward
of a world redeemed by justice,
and all men shall know Thee,
from the greatest unto the least.
Then shall loving kindness and truth meet,
righteousness and peace kiss each other,
truth spring forth from earth
and righteousness look down from heaven.
May all hearts serve Thee with one accord
and recognize that Thou art One
and Thy Name is One.

This prayer was prepared for use in a special service on the Sabbath before Thanksgiving Day, 1905, in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the settlement of Jews in the United States. It was published in The two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of the Jews in the United States, 1655-1905 (New York Co-operative Society: 1906), pp. 253-256. (The prayer also appears in the 14th volume of Proceedings of the American Jewish Historical Society (1906).) It was prepared by a committee consisting of a seven-starred constellation of prominent Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox rabbis: Rabbi Dr. Henry Pereira Mendes (chair), Rabbi Dr. Maurice H. Harris, Rabbi Dr. Philip Klein, Rabbi Dr. Kaufmann Kohler, Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schechter, Rabbi Dr. Samuel Schulman, and Rabbi Dr. Joseph Silverman.






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