A Closing Prayer by the Ḥazzan, by Gershom Seixas (K.K. Shearith Israel, 1789)

A ḥatimah (closing) prayer delivered by Ḥazzan Gershom Seixas at a special Thanksgiving Day service by K.K. Shearith Israel in 1789. . . .

הנותן תשועה | Prayer for the Government of the United States of America, presented by Gershom Seixas on Thanksgiving Day 1789

The prayer for the government presented by Gershom Seixas at K.K. Shearith Israel on Thanksgiving Day 1789. . . .

Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. Senate: Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff on 13 June 2003

The Opening Prayer given in the U.S. Senate on 13 June 2003. . . .

Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. Senate: Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff on 29 April 2003

The Opening Prayer given in the U.S. Senate on 29 April 2003. . . .

גאָט בענטש אַמעריקע | God Bless America, for Armistice/Veterans Day by Irving Berlin (1918/1938)

The words of the prayer for Armistice Day 1938, “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin, in English and Yiddish. . . .

Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld on 23 May 2014

The Opening Prayer given in the U.S. House of Representatives on 23 May 2014. . . .

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! . . .

דער נײער קאָלאסוס | The New Collosus, by Emma Lazarus (1883), Yiddish translation by Rachel Kirsch Holtman (1938)

This is the sonnet, “The New Collosus” (1883) by Emma Lazarus set side-by-side with its Yiddish translation by Rachel Kirsch Holtman. Lazarus famously penned her sonnet in response to the waves of Russian-Jewish refugees seeking refuge in the Unites States of America as a result of murderous Russian pogroms following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881. Her identification and revisioning of the Statue of Liberty as the Mother of Exiles points to the familiar Jewish identification of the Shekhinah (the Divine Presence, in its feminine aspect) with the light of the Jewish people in their Diaspora. . . .

Prayer for the Centennial of the Inauguration of George Washington, by Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Joseph (1889)

The proclamation and prayer of chief rabbi Yaakov Yosef Joseph, on the centennial of President George Washington’s Inauguration . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for Donald Trump, by Rabbi Marvin Hier (2017)

Rabbi Marvin Hier offered this prayer of blessing for Donald Trump and the United States of America on January 20, 2017 at the inauguration day ceremony. . . .

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

Prayer delivered by Rabbi Uri Miller, President of the Synagogue Council of America, at the March on Washington, August 28, 1963 . . .

תפילה למצביעי המדינה | Prayer for the Electorate, by David Zvi Kalman (2016)

A prayer for the electorate to be recited together with the Prayer for Government on the Shabbat before an election (federal, state, or local). David Zvi Kalman’s “Prayer for the Electorate” was initially published on Ritualwell here and linked from an explanation of the prayer posted here. Vocalization of the unpointed text by Josh Soref. (Thank you!) . . .

A Prayer on Voting, by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights (2016)

On Tuesday, we go to the polls in a momentous election that for many of us has generated a combination of anxiety, excitement, fear, and confusion. We offer you this prayer, which you can recite this Shabbat, before you vote, or while you are waiting for returns. . . .

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 . . .

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.” . . .

תפילה לשלום המלכות | Prayer for the Welfare of George Washington, George Clinton, and the 13 States of America by Hendla Jochanan van Oettingen (1784)

Prayers recited on special occasions and thus not part of the fixed liturgy offered America’s foremost Jewish congregation far greater latitude for originality in prayer. At such services, particularly when the prayers were delivered in English and written with the knowledge that non-Jews would hear them, leaders of Shearith Israel often dispensed with the traditional prayer for the government and substituted revealing new compositions appropriate to the concerns of the day. A prayer composed in 1784 (in this case in Hebrew) by the otherwise unknown Rabbi (Cantor?) Hendla Jochanan van Oettingen, for example, thanked God who “in His goodness prospered our warfare.” Mentioning by name both Governor George Clinton and General George Washington, the rabbi prayed for peace and offered a restorationist Jewish twist on the popular idea of America as “redeemer nation”: “As Thou hast granted to these thirteen states of America everlasting freedom,” he declared, “so mayst Thou bring us forth once again from bondage into freedom and mayst Thou sound the great horn for our freedom.” . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Richard M. Nixon by Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin (1969)

This prayer by Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record on January 20, 1969. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Lyndon B. Johnson by Rabbi Hyman Judah Schachtel (1965)

This prayer by Rabbi Hyman Judah Schachtel, Congregation Beth Israel (Houston, Texas), was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record on January 20, 1965. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Ronald Reagan by Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk (1985)

This prayer by Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk at the second inauguration of President Ronald Reagan was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record on January 21, 1985. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Richard M. Nixon by Rabbi Seymour Siegel (1973)

This prayer by Rabbi Seymour Siegel at the second inauguration of President Richard M. Nixon was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record on January 20, 1973. . . .

Inauguration Day Benediction for President John F. Kennedy by Rabbi Dr. Nelson Glueck (1961)

This benediction for President John F. Kennedy by Rabbi Dr. Nelson Glueck, was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record on January 20, 1961. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Dwight D. Eisenhower by Rabbi Dr. Louis Finkelstein (1957)

This prayer at the second inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower by Rabbi Dr. Louis Finkelstein, chancellor, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record for January 20, 1957. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Dwight D. Eisenhower by Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver (1953)

This prayer by Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, of Cleveland, Ohio, was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record for January 20, 1953. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Harry S. Truman by Rabbi Samuel Thurman (1949)

This prayer by Rabbi Samuel Thurman, of the United Hebrew Temple (St. Louis, Missouri), was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record for January 20, 1949. . . .

תפילה ליום הודו על חנוכּה | Prayer on Thanksgivukah by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

May the next Thanksgivukkah be a time of health and abundance for all of you who will receive the world from our hands. May we together find away to make sure that there is health and wealth and beauty not just for our family, not just for the Jewish people and humanity, but for all living creatures who share this planet with us. May the One bless us with the power and wisdom to birth a society that shows love to the world around us, that lives with love towards all beings. . . .

מִי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ | Mi Sheberakh for United States Military War Veterans, by Hinda Tzivia Eisen

A “mi sheberakh” prayer for U.S. war veterans on the shabbat preceding Veterans Day (November 11). . . .

על הניסים בימי הודיה לאומיים | Al Hanissim prayer for thanksgiving 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. . . .

Prayer for Alexandru Ioan I Cuza, Domnitor of Romania by Rabbi Meir Leibush (1862)

The life of Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yeḥiel Michel (MALBIM, 1809-1879) as a wandering rabbi and brilliant intellect reflects the changing expectations of Jews and Jewish religious authorities during the period of emancipation in 19th century Eastern Europe. In his capacity as the chief rabbi of Bucharest, Romania, MALBIM composed a prayer for Prince Alexander Ioan I Cuza (1820-1873), Domnitor. The prince had united the Danube principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia in 1862 to form the Kingdom of Romania. During his reign, he managed to bring about a series of important land reforms benefiting the peasantry of Romania, and he did try to improve the situation for Jews under his rule. The emancipation of the Jews of Romania, announced with the Proclamation of Islaz during the Wallachian Revolution of 1848, had never actually gone into effect. In 1865, the prince announced a project which would lead to the “gradual emancipation of the people of Mosaic faith” but this effort was never realized due to Alexandru Ioan’s forced abdication and replacement by a Prussian King in 1866. . . .

על הניסים | Tanksgiv All the Boona, an al hanissim prayer of thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l

With this in mind, I want to invite all Jews in North America that celebrate the secular/national holiday of Thanksgiving to consider what might be a thoughtful prayer on this day. For the few hundred years that our people have been here, as refugees fleeing the Spanish Inquisition and as immigrants simply seeking better fortunes in a safer land, this Land has been a sanctuary. At the same time, even through the storied travails of our immediate ancestors, we cannot ignore the suffering endured by the indigenous peoples of this land who, first by devastating plague, and later through intentional acts of dispossession were murdered, massacred, forcibly displaced, and assimilated (forbidden to speak their language, separated from their families, made ignorant of their traditions) — experiences that must resonate with our own historical experience in the Diaspora. It seems immoral and obscene to me to be thankful without also being mindful of this complexity — how the fruits we enjoy in this Land have a rotten and dramatic history that we, now as residents of this continent, must at least consider in our prayers of thanksgiving. . . .

Prayer for the Government in honor of George Washington, First President of the United States of America by K.K. Beit Shalome (1789)

The following prayer for the government was composed by Congregation Beth Shalome in Richmond, Virginia in 1789. Please note the acrostic portion of the prayer in which the initial letters of the succeeding lines form the name: Washington. . . .

Memorial Prayer for Abraham Lincoln by Isaac Goldstein the Levite (1865)

Exalted are you Lincoln. Who is like you! You were highly respected among Kings and Princes. All that you accomplished you did with a humble spirit. You are singular and cannot be compared to anyone else. Who among the great are like Lincoln? Who can be praised like you? . . .

תפילה ל-11 בספטמבר | Memorial Prayer for those whose lives were lost on 11 September 2001, by Rabbi Gilah Langner

Avinu she-ba-shamayim, our Parent in heaven, v’Ruaḥ kol basar, the Spirit of all that lives, We turn toward You as we recall today with sorrow and honor those who lost their lives ten years ago, and those who gave their lives -– as passengers, firemen, and rescuers –- so that others might live. Grant their souls continuing rest in the shelter of eternity. And grant to us peace and fortitude in the years ahead, that we may restore a sense of trust and security to this great land, that we may be guided not by fear or terror, but by strength and understanding, holding fast to our ideals and upholding our highest values. Guard our comings and our goings in peace, now and always, Amen. . . .

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. . . .

A Prayer for Voting by, Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

This prayer is broadly speaking a prayer that we learn to work together to create a better future, and it incorporates a pledge to do one thing for healing the world, for tikkun olam, that will make this future a reality. It’s not a prayer about winning or getting other people to see things our way, like some of the others I’ve seen. Whomever we support, we need to pray for strength for the next president, and for the whole country, to face what will be challenging times. . . .


בסיעתא דארעא