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☞   Labor Day (1st Monday in September)

This is an archive of prayers and song composed for, or relevant to, Labor Day in the United States, celebrated on the first Monday of September.

If you have composed or selected a public reading for Labor Day, please share it here.


Looking for something else?

For prayers composed for, or relevant to, International Workers’ Day, please visit here.

For public readings selected for International Workers’ Day, please visit here.

For prayers of all sorts categorized under “Labor, Fulfillment, and Parnassah,” please visit here.

תְּפִלָה לְחַג הָעֲבוֹדָה | Prayer for Labor Day, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

This is a petition for the worker in the style of “Av Haraḥamim” and similar texts, using Biblical and Mishnaic language and co-opting it into a new meaning. It could be read after the Torah service (like many other petitionary texts) or focused on in private. The Biblical relationship between God, humanity, and labor is fascinating. Often it is treated as a curse placed upon us, and just as often as the purpose of humanity. In Genesis 3:19 it is the curse placed upon a disobedient First Adam, but less than a chapter earlier in Genesis 2:15 it is the reason for First Adam’s creation in the first place! In the past century or so, traditional Judaism has somewhat tilted away from the ideas of worker’s rights so clearly stated in the Tanakh and in rabbinic texts. Partially this was to disassociate from the Bundists, partially out of fear of “looking too Communist” in a xenophobic American society, and partially because the Jewish working class is nowhere near as substantial a part of the community as it once was. If this text is meant to do anything, it’s to show that love of God and love of the worker aren’t opposed to each other – in fact, they go hand in hand! . . .

Closing Prayer for Labor Day, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, and Eugene Kohn (1951)

“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.165. . . .

Opening Prayer on the Significance of Labor Day, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, and Eugene Kohn (1951)

“Opening Prayer on the Significance of [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.165. . . .

The Dignity of Labor, a prayer for Labor Day by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, J. Paul Williams, and Eugene Kohn (1951)

“Dignity of Labor” is a prayer for Labor Day first published in The Faith of America: Readings, Songs, and Prayers for the Celebration of American Holidays (Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation 1951), p.176-177. . . .

תפילת היוצר | A Worker’s Prayer, by Rabbi Stephen Belsky

A worker’s prayer by Rabbi Stephen Belsky, dedicated to Noam Ezra ben haRav Moshe z”l. . . .

A New Declaration of Independence, by Emma Goldman (1909)

A New Declaration of Independence by Emma Goldman. . . .

יום העבודה | Salvation through Avodah, a prayer for the Sabbath before Labor Day, adapted from the writings of A.D. Gordon by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1945)

“Salvation through Labor,” adapted by Rabbi Mordecai Menaḥem Kaplan from the writings of Aaron David Gordon, can be found on p. 548-551 of his The Sabbath Prayer Book (New York: The Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, 1945). The translation was attributed in the Sabbath Prayer Book to its editors (Mordecai Kaplan & Eugene Kohn, assisted by Ira Eisenstein and Milton Steinberg). . . .