תפילה להפך – מאבן בֹחן | Prayer for Transformation, from the poem Even Boḥan (“Touchstone”) by Rabbi Qalonymus ben Qalonymus ben Meir (1322 C.E.)

This prayer of רבי קלונימוס בן קלונימוס Kalonymus ben Kalonymus that appears in his ספר אבן בוחן, יג Even Boḥan (§13), was first published in English translation by Rabbi Steven Greenberg in Wrestling with Gods and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition (University of Wisconsin Press 2004) p.118-120, and online at Eshel to commemorate the International Transgender Day of Rememberance (on November 20). . . .

בִּרְכַּת עָם | The People’s Blessing, by Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik (1894)

Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik’s “People’s Blessing” (בִּרְכַּת עָם, also known by its incipit תֶחֱזַֽקְנָה Teḥezaqnah), with its first, fourth, and final stanzas translated by Eugene Kohn and titled “Redemption through Labor.” The translation can be found in The Sabbath Prayer Book (Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation 1945) on pages 484-485. It appears in the section, “The Restoration of Zion” containing Zionist themed prayers. Before HaTikvah was chosen, Teḥezaqnah was once considered for the State of Israel’s national anthem. Bialik was 21 years old when he composed the work in 1894. It later was chosen as the anthem of the Labor Zionist movement. . . .

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). . . .

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! . . .

סֵדֶר לְיוֹם הַשׁוֹאָה | Seder for Yom haSho’ah, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

The most traumatic event in recent Jewish history is the Holocaust. At this time, the survivors of the camps are aging, and in the lifespan of people alive today it is likely that the last survivor will die. We say we must never forget what happened during the Holocaust, but if we think of it as a tragedy that happened to our ancestors we will forget. But it has been 3000 years since the Exodus from Egypt, and the Haggadah keeps its history vivid and alive. We are taught that in each and every generation we are to think of ourselves as having been slaves in Egypt. May it be that just as we never forgot the wonders of the Exodus, so too we never forget the horrors of the Holocaust, and continue to strive that such horrors may never happen again until all live in freedom and peace. . . .

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

dedicated to Noam Ezra ben haRav Moshe z”l

Hebrew English יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלִּפְֿנֵי אָבִֽֿינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַֽיִם,‏ בּוֹרְאֵֽנוּ, יוֹצְרֵֽנוּ, יוֹצֵר בְּרֵאשִׁיתֿ, הָאֻמָּן הָעֶלְיוֹן,‏ כְּאָמְרָם ”אֵין צוּר כֵּאלֹהֵֽינוּ“ – ‏ ”אֵין צַיָּר כֵּאלֹהֵֽינוּ“,‏ שֶׁיְּחָנֵּ֫נוּ בְכָֿל הַחָכְֿמוֹתֿ —‏ חָכְֿמוֹתֿ הַלֵּבֿ, וְחָכְֿמוֹתֿ הַנֶּֽפֶֿשׁ,‏ וְחָכְֿמוֹתֿ הַיָּדַֿיִם;‏ וְיַנְחֵֽנוּ בִדְֿרָכָֿיו לַעֲשׂוֹתֿ אֶתֿ מְלַאכְֿתֵּנוּ בְּיֹֽשֶׁר, וּבְֿחֶֽסֶדֿ, וּבֶֿאֱמוּנָה;‏ וִיבָֿרֵךְֿ אֶתֿ מַעֲשֵֽׂינוּ וְאֶתֿ מַעֲשֵׂי מַעֲשֵֽׂינוּ,‏ לְקַדֵּשׁ . . .

‏אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים תְפִילָה לַנִּסְפִּים בַּשּׁוֹאָה | El Malé Raḥamim Prayer for the Victims of the Shoah by Rabbi Yehoyada Amir

God, full of compassion, who dwells in the heights, provide a fitting rest upon the wings of the Shekhina, within the ascents of the holy and the pure, who shine like the starry heaven for our six million sisters and brothers who lost their lives in the Shoah: that were killed and slaughtered, suffocated and buried alive, burned and tortured — the young and the elderly, women and men, leaders and simpletons, those faithful in Torah along with rebels and dreamers. Beloved and pleasant in life, and not separated from that love even after death. . . .


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