|Source (Hebrew)||Translation (English)|
אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ
קַבֵּל נָא בְּרַחַמִים אֶת־תְּפִלָּתֵֽנוּ
בְּעַד אַרְצֵֽנוּ וּמֶמְשַׁלְתָּהּ.
הָרֵק אֶת־בִּרְכָתְךָ עַל הָאָֽרֶץ הַזֺּאת
עַל נְשִׂיאָהּ שׁוֹפְטֶֽיהָ שׁוֹטְרֶֽיהָ וּפְקִידֶֽהָ
הָעוֹסְקִים בְצָרְכֵי צִבּוּר בֶּאֱמוּנָה.
הוֹרֵם מֵחֻקֵּי תוֹרָתֶֽךָ
הַבִינֵם מִשְׁפְּטֵי צִדְקֶֽךָ
לְמַֽעַן לֺא יָסוּרוּ מֵאַרְצֵֽנוּ שָׁלוֹם וְשַׁלְוָה
אֺֽשֶׁר וָחֺֽפֶשׁ כׇּל־הַיָּמִים.
Our God and God of our ancestors:
Accept with mercy our prayer
for our land and its government.
Pour out your blessing on this land,
on its President, judges, officers and officials,
who work faithfully for the public good.
Teach them from the laws of Your Torah,
enlighten them with the rules of Your justice,
so that peace, tranquility, happiness and freedom
will never depart from our land.
אָנָּֽא יְיָ אֱלֺהֵי הָרוּחוֹת לְכׇל־בָּשָׂר
שְׁלַח רוּחֲךָ עַל כׇּל־תּוֹשְׁבֵי אַרְצֵֽנוּ
וְטַע בֵּין בְּנֵי הָאֻמּוֹת וְהָאֱמוּנוֹת הַשּׁוֹנוֹת הַשּׁוֹכְנִים בָּהּ
אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה שָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת.
וַעֲקֺר נִלִּבָּם כׇל שִׂנְאָה וְאֵיבָה קִנְאָה וְתַחֲרוּת.
לְמַלְֺּאוֹת מַשָּׂא נֶֽפשׁ בָּנֶֽיהָ הַמִּתְיַמְּרִים בִּכְבוֹדָהּ
וְהַמִּשְׁתּוֹקְקִים לִרְאוֹתָהּ אוֹר לְכָל־הַגּוֹיִם.
God of all that lives,
please bestow Your spirit on all the inhabitants of our land,
and plant love, fellowship, peace and friendship
between the different communities and faiths that dwell here.
Uproot from their hearts all hate, animosity, jealousy and strife,
in order to fulfill the longings of its people, who aspire for its dignity,
and desire to see it as a light for all nations.
וְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶֽיךָ
שֶׁתְּהֵא אַרְצֵֽנוּ בְּרָכָה לְכׇל־יוֹשְׁבֵי תֵבֵל
וְתַשְׁרֶה בֵּינֵיהֶם רֵעוּת וְחֵרוּת
וְקַיֵּם בִּמְהֵרָה חֲזוֹן נְבִיאֶֽיךָ
”לֹא־יִשָּׂ֨א ג֤וֹי אֶל־גּוֹי֙ חֶ֔רֶב
וְלֹא־יִלְמְד֥וּ ע֖וֹד מִלְחָמָֽה“ (ישעיה ב:ד)
וְנֶאֱמַר ”כִּֽי־כוּלָּם֩ יֵדְע֨וּ אוֹתִ֜י
לְמִקְטַנָּ֤ם וְעַד־גְּדוֹלָם֙“. (ירמיה לא:לד חלק)
And so may it be God’s will
that our land be a blessing for all who live on earth,
and that fellowship and liberty will dwell between them.
Establish soon the vision of your prophet:
“Nation will not raise a sword against nation,
and they will no longer learn war,” (Isaiah 2:4)
and, as it is said: “for all of them will know Me,
from the smallest to the greatest.” (Jeremiah 31:34 partial)
This is “A Prayer for the Government” by Rabbi Dr. Louis Ginzberg, as found in Festival Prayer Book, edited by Jacob Kohn and Maurice H. Farbridge (1927), p.200, and in The Respona of Professor Louis Ginzberg, ed. D. Golinkin (1996). This is a new translation (2010) by Tim Daniel Bernard, closely following the the original Hebrew Prayer.
In his article “Conservative Prayerbooks” written for the Jewish Spectator in 1976, Dr. Eric Friedland had this to say about the Festival Prayer Book and Louis Ginzburg’s Prayer for the Government:
The Festival Prayerbook (1927, under the auspices of the United Synagogue of America), the first publication to bear the stamp of the Conservative Movement, shared not a few of the characteristics of the liturgical productions of Britain’s Orthodox United Synagogue, the Authorized Daily Prayerbook and various mahzorim, noted for their neat and orderly layout, textual accuracy, and judicious curtailment of piyyutim. The early disciples of Solomon Schechter, who himself had spent some time in Cambridge before he came and settled in New York to put the then-teetering Jewish Theological Seminary on its feet, were not impervious to the neo-classical trend of the nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholic Tractarians of the Church of England. While the elevated, formal “high-church” tone of the Festival Prayerbook has long since been supplanted, many of that prayerbook’s meticulous standards have been retained. One innovation that has perdured is Professor Louis Ginzberg’s Prayer for the Government. The entreaty is patriotic in the best sense of the term with scarce a trace of jingoism. Its longevity is warranted.
In his review, Dr. Friedland was speaking specifically of Ginzberg’s original Hebrew liturgy. The prayer was republished with slightly altered Hebrew text in Seder Tefilot Yisrael: Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book, compiled by the Rabbinical Assembly & United Synagogue of America (1946) p.130, and in Sim Shalom (1985) p.414-415. The translation of the prayer as found in Sim Shalom was read into the Congressional Record (vol. 140, no. 16, Wednesday 23 February 1994) by Rabbi Paul D. Kerbel of Congregation Nevey Shalom, Bowie, Maryland on 1994. (There is also a delightful recording of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, z”l, offering it at Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Maryland, on October 3rd, 2013.)
A new English translation of Louis Ginzberg’s Prayer for the Government was the main impetus behind Rabbi Tim Bernard’s contribution. As Rabbi Bernard explains:
This translation is more straightforward, less archaic, and much closer to original Hebrew than the traditional translation found in Conservative prayer books published between 1927 and 2005.
“תְּפִלָּה בְּעַד הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה | Prayer for the Government, by Rabbi Dr. Louis Ginzberg (1927)” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International copyleft license.
Works of related interest:
תפלה בעד שלום המדינה | Prayer for the Welfare of the Government and Country of the United States of America, by Avraham Hyman Charlap (1912)
Prayer for Reparation and Restoration, an alternative to the Prayer for Welfare of the Government by Rabbi Brant Rosen (Tzedek Chicago 2020)
Prayer for the Government [of the United States of America], by David Nunes Carvalho (Reformed Society of Israelites, Charleston, South Carolina, 1825)
תפלה בעד שלום המדינה | Prayer for the Government of William Howard Taft, by Avraham Hyman Charlap (1912)
Consistent with the 1976 US Copyright Act, works pulished in the US, registered with the Library of Congress, and published before 1923 or before Jan. 1, 1964, would enter the Public Domain in their 28th year unless renewed. After a diligent search of copyright renewal records, we are confident that due to the lack of copyright renewal, the United Jewish Synagogue’s Festival Prayer Book resides in the Public Domain in the United States.
Much thanks to Eric Friedland for sharing his article, “Conservative Prayerbooks” (with permission).
Dr. Sarna wrote a chapter on the US prayer for the government that may be of interest to people who find this page.
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