Prayer at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, by Rabbi Uri Miller (28 August 1963)

Contribute a Translation English (source)

Our fathers’ God,
God of the spirits of all flesh,
we invoke Thy blessing
upon this assemblage of citizens
who have gathered here
to demonstrate for freedom,
bread,
and the dignity of men.

Thou hast endowed all men equally
with the right to life,
to liberty,
and to the pursuit of happiness.

Enable us,
through this demonstration,
to sensitize all Americans—
and especially those in positions of power and authority—
to this concept of equality.

May we understand
that when we deprive our fellow man of bread and dignity,
we negate the tselem Elohim, the image of God in man,
and delay the fulfillment of Thy kingdom.

Enable us to understand
that our society, the American people,
is of one piece—
that when any part of this society suffers,
we all suffer.

May we understand
that he who discriminates is as morally hurt
as the one discriminated against is physically hurt;
that he who is prejudiced
may injure the object of his prejudice,
but he also degrades the society of which he is a part.

Above all, we pray we become cognizant
in ever-increasing measure
that our religious ideals must be fulfilled
in actual living experience;
our traditions must be given flesh
in the form of social justice, now
.

Freedom,
pride,
and dignity
must not be empty words,
nor even sincere ideals projected
into some messianic future,
but actualities expressed in our society
in concrete and tangible form, now.

May we never forfeit our liberties,
nor condone cowardice,
prejudice,
and self-indulgence.

May we ever expand
the area of human freedom in our midst
and thus serve Thee
and Thy law
of love and justice.

May we demonstrate our gratitude
for the blessed privilege of living under the Stars and Stripes
by giving “to bigotry no sanction,
to persecution no assistance.”[1]George Washington’s Letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island (1790)
Banish hatred,
pride,
and arrogance
from our midst
and inspire us
to do justice,
to love mercy,
and walk humbly with Thee.

Hasten Thou the coming of the happy day
when the message of Thy prophet shall be fulfilled,
when men shall break their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks
and no longer learn the art of war,[2]after Isaiah 2:4
when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.[3]after Habakkuk 2:14

Amen.

I have faithfully transcribed this prayer delivered by Rabbi Uri Miller, President of the Synagogue Council of America, at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963. –Aharon N. Varady

Source

Notes   [ + ]

  1. George Washington’s Letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island (1790)
  2. after Isaiah 2:4
  3. after Habakkuk 2:14

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