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Mother’s Day (2nd Sunday of May)

Mother’s Day is an annual holiday celebrated in the United States on the second Sunday in May. Mother’s Day recognizes mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds in general, as well as the positive contributions that they make to their families and society.

During the 19th century, women’s peace groups in the United States tried to establish holidays and regular activities in favor of peace and against war. A common early activity was the meeting of groups of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the American Civil War. There were several limited observances in the 1870s and the 1880s but none achieved resonance beyond the local level. At the time, Protestant Christian schools in the United States already held many celebrations and observations such as Children’s Day, Temperance Sunday, Roll Call Day, Decision Day, Missionary Day and others. In New York City, Julia Ward Howe led a “Mother’s Day for Peace” anti-war observance on June 2, 1872, which was accompanied by a “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world” (nowadays known as Mother’s Day Proclamation). The observance continued in Boston for about 10 years under Howe’s personal sponsorship, then died out. In these celebrations, mothers all around the world would work towards world peace.

In 1868, Ann Jarvis, organized a committee to establish a “Mother’s Friendship Day”, the purpose of which was “to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War.” Ann Jarvis, who had previously organized Mother’s Day Work Clubs to improve sanitation and health for both Union and Confederate encampments undergoing a typhoid outbreak, wanted to expand these into an annual memorial for mothers, but she died in 1905. The annual celebration was ultimately established by her daughter Ann’s daughter, Anna Jarvis, in 1908.

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For prayers offered composed for, or relevant to, Yom ha-Ém in the State of Israel, go here.

For prayers offered composed for, or relevant to, International Women’s Day, go here.

שֵׁשׁ אִמָּהוֹת | Shesh Imahot (Six Matriarchs) — Sarah, Rivqah, Raḥel, Leah, Bilhah, and Zilpah, as found in rabbinic sources

תפילה למעמד המשותף | أغنية الحياة والسلام | Prayer of Mothers for Life and Peace, by Sheikha Ibtisam Maḥameed & Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum

א תְּחִנָה פאר א שׂטיףּ מוטער | A Tkhine for a Stepmother (from Shas Tkhine Ḥadashah, 1922)

For All Mothers, a prayer by Rev. Walter Rauschenbusch adapted by Rabbi Morris Lazaron (1918)

Am Grabe der Mutter | At the grave of one’s mother, a teḥinah by Lise Tarlau (1907)

דער נײער קאָלאסוס | The New Collosus, a paean to the Shekhinah/”Mother of Exiles” by Emma Lazarus (1883, Yiddish translation by Rachel Kirsch Holtman 1938)

[Prayer] at a Mother’s Grave, by Rabbi Moritz Mayer (1866)

Am Grabe der Großmutter | At the grave of one’s grandmother, a teḥinah by Yehoshua Heshil Miro (1835)

Am Grabe der Mutter | At the grave of one’s mother, a teḥinah by Yehoshua Heshil Miro (1835)

Andachtsübung einer Mutter | Devotional exercise of a mother, a teḥinah by Yehoshua Heshil Miro (1829)

Gebet einer Stiefmutter | Prayer of a stepmother, a teḥinah by Yehoshua Heshil Miro (1829)