בסיעתא דשמיא

תפילת הדרך | Tefilat haDerekh, a prayer for peace (trans. Rabbi David Seidenberg, neohasid.org)

In this Tefilat haDerekh (the prayer for travel), I’ve made a synthesis of Ashkenazi and Sefardi nusaḥ. Even though the translation is pretty close to literal in most places, it comes across as an extraordinary and activist prayer for peace. So I think of this prayer not just as a prayer for the beginning a physical journey, but for any spiritual journey, and especially for any campaign or action for justice and peace that a person or group might undertake. When applied to activism, the “enmity and ambush and theft and predation” we ask to be rescued from could also be interpreted as hatred, deceit, jealousy, and aggression, i.e., the kinds of feelings that cause people to work against each other, even within an organization, instead of working together. I first used this version of the prayer at the beginning of a tour of Israel and Palestine focused on the human rights and non-violent resistance, when the group passed through the first checkpoint of the trip. . . .

תפילה לילדי עזה | A Prayer for Gaza’s Children, by Bradley Burston (2008)

Lord who is the creator of all children, hear our prayer this accursed day. God whom we call Blessed, turn your face to these, the children of Gaza, that they may know your blessings, and your shelter, that they may know light and warmth, where there is now only blackness and smoke, and a cold which cuts and clenches the skin. . . .

תפילת נחם לשלם בירושלם | Tefilat Naḥem for the Peace of Jerusalem on Tisha b’Av, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

On Tisha be’Av, Jewish communities all over the world add a paragraph called Tefilat Naḥem (the prayer of comfort) to the standard daily Amidah (either for the afternoon service or for all services) praying for a return to Jerusalem. The traditional text discusses Jerusalem being defiled, in the hands of the idol worshipers, putting our people to the sword. But post-1967, Jerusalem has been under Israeli control, and this text has, to many people, felt no longer appropriate in the face of a Jerusalem being rebuilt. Many have written their own versions of a new Tefilat Naḥem for a Jerusalem under Israeli control, but I have felt dissatisfied with a lot of these. Some treat Jerusalem as already fully redeemed, which any glance at the news tells you isn’t the case. Others treat the major step in redeeming Jerusalem as building the Temple, but this seems to me to be only one eschatological part of a larger hope for Jerusalem. Jews have often considered the peace of Jerusalem to be a microcosm of the peace of all the earth. Thus for the Shabbat and Yom Tov Hashkivenu we pray for God to “spread the shelter of peace over us, all Israel, and Jerusalem.” The name Jerusalem, ירושלים, has been analyzed as “they will see peace” יראו שלום, since the peace of Jerusalem means all will see peace. But it’s clear that the peace of Jerusalem is not final or eternal, and it remains a city on the edge of a knife. So my version of Tefilat Naḥem prays not for a return, nor for a Temple, but for the peace of Jerusalem. It can be used at the same time as the standard Tefilat Naḥem (as an extension of the Birkat Yerushalayim in the Shmoneh Esreh for Tisha b’Av) or on its own. Thus I used four asterisks (a tetrapuncta) instead of God’s name, for those who would prefer to avoid a b’rakhah levatalah. Those who would prefer to use this blessing in the Amidah itself could replace the tetrapuncta with the name itself. . . .

تعالوا نضيئ شمعات السلام | בואו נאיר נרות שלום | Let us Light Candles for Peace, by Sheikha Ibtisam Maḥameed and Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum

Two mothers, one plea: Now, more than ever, during these days of so much crying, on the day that is sacred to both our religions, Friday, Sabbath Eve Let us light a candle in every home – for peace: A candle to illuminate our future, face to face, A candle across borders, beyond fear. From our family homes and houses of worship Let us light each other up Let these candles be a lighthouse to our spirit Until we all arrive at the sanctuary of peace. . . .

תפילה למען ילדי העולם | Prayer for the Children of the World, by Rabbi Nava Hefetz

A translation in Arabic and English of Rabbi Nava Hafetz’s prayer for the children of the world: Creator of all life, sovereign of peace, Bless our children and the children of all the world With physical, emotional, and spiritual health. You who created them in Your image And lovingly imbued them with Your spirit, Let their paths be successful in this world that You created. Give them of Your resilience and strengthen the sinews of their bodies and minds. Guard and save them from all evil For Your mercy and truth abound. Grant peace to the Land and everlasting happiness to all its inhabitants. Amen, may it be Your will . . .

תפילת לשלום ירושלים | Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, by Rabbi Eliyahu Yosef She’ar Yashuv Cohen

The “Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem” by the late chief rabbi of Ḥaifa, Eliyahu Yosef She’ar Yashuv Cohen zt”l (1927-2016), is often included in programs praying for peace in Jerusalem in periods of conflict. . . .

A Love Song to Arabs from a Jew, by Pesach Dahvid Stadlin

السلام عليكم اننى يهودي أعيش في أسرائيل هذه الاغنية أهديها لجيراني العرب انها أغنية حب لكل جيراني العرب الذين يحبون الحياة و التعايش معا في سلم و سلام , و الاوقات السعيدة , و الاكل الطعم , و الصداقات الجميلة , و العلاقات الجيدة , و الأمن و الأمان نتعلم في التوراة أن اللهّ الخالق خلق الناس أجمعين و هذا يتضمننا كلنا هذه أغنية حب لكم…

. . .

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

God of Life Who heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds May it be your will to hear the prayer of mothers For you did not create us to kill each other Nor to live in fear, anger or hatred in your world But rather you have created us so we can grant permission to one another to sanctify Your name of Life, your name of Peace in this world. . . .

A Jewish Prayer for Peace between England and her Colonies on a public day of fasting and prayer, May 17, 1776

Fred MacDowell: “Then, as now, war was looked upon by many as a great evil, especially between brothers, and many American Colonists only wanted the oppressive measures of King George III to be lifted, bloodshed ended, and peace restored. The nascent American Congress called for a day of “Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” along these lines for May 17, 1776. It was for this occasion that this prayer was recited in Congregation Shearith Israel in New York. As you can see, a complete service was arranged for this occasion, meant to invoke the solemnity and seriousness of the occasion; after morning prayer, Taḥanun was to be sung to the tune of a Yom Kippur pizmon; a dozen Psalms recited, and then the Ḥazan would recite this prayer written for the occasion, and of course all were to be fasting. The prayer hopes for a change of heart for King George III and his advisors, that they would rescind their wrath and harsh decrees against “North America,” that the bloodshed should end, and peace and reconciliation should obtain between the Americans and Great Britain once more, in fulfillment of the Messianic verse that Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Of course this was not meant to be, and six weeks later the American Congress declared independence from Great Britain, and there was no walking back from the hostilities which had already occurred.” . . .

קדיש יתום בזמן מלחמה | Mourner’s Kaddish in Time of War and Violence by Arthur Waskow

Jews use the Kaddish to mourn the dead, though it has in it only one word — “nechamata,” consolations – which hints at mourning. And this word itself is used in a puzzling way, once we look at it with care. As we will see below, it may be especially appropriate in time of war. The interpretive English translation below may also be appropriate for prayers of mourning and hope in wartime by other spiritual and religious communities. In this version, changes in the traditional last line of the Hebrew text specifically include not only peace for the people Israel (as in the traditional version) but also for the children of Abraham and Hagar through Ishmael (Arabs and Muslims) and for all the life-forms who dwell upon this planet. . . .

A Prayer for Compassion During Violent Conflict, by Trisha Arlin

We pray for those of us Who are so angry That we have lost compassion for the suffering Of anyone who is not a member of our group. And we pray for those of us Who cannot see the suffering Behind the loss of that compassion. We pray for the strength To resist the urge to inhumanity That we feel in times of fear and mourning. We pray for the courage To resist the calls to inhumanity That others may make upon us in times of crisis. . . .

תפילה לשלום ופיוס לישראלים ולפלסטינים ולכל העם | A Prayer for Peace and Reconciliation for Israelis, Palestinians, and all People by Rabbi Samuel Feinsmith

Master of compassion and forgiveness, Cosmic Majesty Who is peace— Teach us Your ways, Show us the path that preserves life. Take note, Lord, for we are suffering deeply. Our guts are wrenched, Our hearts are turning within us. Violence has devoured outside, and inside it feels deathly. When enemies rose up against us to kill our babes, Courageous, precious boys, full of the light of life, shining like the radiance of the sky, Our hearts became angry, our vision lost its strength, and our spirits sunk. And still we turn to you— . . .

תפילה לישראל ופלסטין | Prayer for Israel and Palestine by IfNotNow-Chicago (5778)

On 29 September 2017 IfNotNow Chicago writes, “Tonight begins Yom Kippur. We are asking our community, when you say the prayer for Israel this Kol Nidre, will you say it for all the people that live in Israel and Palestine? Will you stand for freedom and dignity for all Palestinians and Israelis? Our members have re-imagined the Prayer for the State of Israel. We hope you use this New Prayer for Israel and Palestine, and share it with your own community.” . . .

תפילה יהודית ליום הנכבה | A Jewish Prayer for Nakba Day (يوم النكبة) by Sarah M.

Our God, and God of our ancestors, who answered Abraham when his son was bound on the altar, who remembered Sarah’s prayers in her tent for a child, and who found Hagar in the wilderness on the road to Shur, and who heard the cries of her child in the wilderness of Beer Shava, may He remember our Palestinian brothers and sisters who were killed, who were expelled, who fled, who were not allowed to return home, and those who are still at risk of losing their homes. . . .

הרחמן הוא ישבור עול כיבוש | Prayer to the Compassionate One for the Peace of Two States for Two Peoples (for Inclusion in the Birkat Hamazon) by Ira Tick

A prayer for the peaceful resolution of Israel’s conflicts with her neighbors and a mutually agreeable end to her dominion over the Palestinians, in Hebrew and in English, appropriate for inserting in the Birkat HaMazon especially on Shabbat and Festivals, or for reciting at any time. . . .

על הניסים בימי הודיה לאומיים | Al Hanissim supplement for the Birkat Hamazon and Amidah on all Secular/National Days of Gratitude, by Aharon Varady

Opportunities to express gratitude on secular, nationalist days of thanksgiving demand acknowledgement of an almost unfathomably deep history of trauma — not only the suffering and striving of my immigrant ancestors, but the sacrifice of all those who endured suffering dealt by their struggle to survive, and often failure to survive, the oppressions dealt by colonization, conquest, hegemony, natural disaster. Only the Earth (from which we, earthlings were born, Bnei Adam from Adamah) has witnessed the constancy of the violent deprivations we inflict upon each other. The privilege I’ve inherited from these sacrifices has come at a cost, and it must be honestly acknowledged, especially on secular/national days of thanksgiving, independence, and freedom. I insert this prayer after Al Hanissim in the Amidah and in the Birkat Hamazon on national days of independence and thanksgiving. . . .

על חטא | For the Sin of Torture: A Communal Confession by Rabbi Ed Feld

For the sin which we have committed before You through diminishing the image of God. . . .

תחינה ליובל מלחמת ששת הימים | A prayer on the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War by Rabbi Ofer Sabath Beit Halachmi

“A prayer on the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War” by Rabbi Ofer Sabath Beit Halachmi was first read on 11 Sivan 5777 (June 5th 2017) and published on his Facebook page. English translation: Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Rabbi Andrea Coustan London and Daniel London. . . .

The Last Tisha b’Av: A Tale of New Temples, by Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow and Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman (2006)

Long ago there came a Ḥassid, visiting from Vitebsk to see his Rebbe. Struggling up hills, over cobblestones, through narrow alleyways, the Ḥassid came panting, shaking, to the door of a pale and quiet synagogue. So pale, so quiet was this shul that the pastel paintings on the wall and ceiling stood out as though they were in vivid primary colors. As the Ḥassid came into the shul, he saw his Rebbe high on a make-shift ladder, painting a picture on the ceiling above the bimah. . . .

תפילת ט״וּ בִּשְׁבָט | A Tu Bishvat Prayer for Trees, by Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel (2011)

In the wake of the continued uprooting of fruit trees and human settlements in the Land of Israel, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights shared the following petitionary prayer. . . .

תפילה למען תושבי/ות אל-עראקיב | A Thanksgiving Day Prayer for the Residents of Al-Araqeeb (قرية العراقيب), by Rabbi Arik Ascherman

How is it that El-Arakib sits alone and desolate, like a widow a seventh time? “The Daughter of Zion has lost her glory.” (Lamentations 1:6) For, while we had dreamed that our state would “Ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or gender,” (Israeli Declaration of Independence) our prayers have not yet been fulfilled. . . .

קינה | Kinah/lamentation, by Aryeh Cohen (2004)

The yahrzeit of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin, assassinated on 4 November 1995, is י״א בְּמַרחֶשְׁוָן (11 Marḥeshvan). . . .


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