נחמו נחמו עמי | Naḥamu, Naḥamu Ami (Comfort, comfort, my people), a piyyut for Tisha b’Aḅ

This beautiful piyyut of unknown authorship is recited in most Sephardic, Mizrahi and Yemenite traditions on Tisha B’ab at Minḥah. In its stanzas, rich and replete with biblical references (as is particularly common in Sephardic Piyyut), God speaks to Jerusalem and promises to comfort her, and comfort and redeem her people. . . .

For Tisha b’Av : Our Cherished Litany of Loss, by Rabbi Menachem Creditor

“For Tisha be’Av: Our Cherished Litany of Loss” by Rabbi Menachem Creditor was first published on his website, here. . . .

That Religion Be Not a Cloak for Hypocrisy, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1945)

“That Religion Be Not a Cloak for Hypocrisy,” by Rabbi Mordecai Menaḥem Kaplan can be found on p. 435-5 of his The Sabbath Prayer Book (New York: The Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, 1945). . . .

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. . . .

תפילת ”על הנסים“ חדשה ליום י״ז בתמוז | Al Hanissim for 17 Tamuz, by Rav Ḥanan Schlesinger

Proposed flag of the Judenstaat (Jewish State) by Theodor Herzl. As he wrote: "White field, seven golden stars."

An Al Hanissim supplement for Sheva Asar b’Tamuz that acknowledges the fast day in light of the apparent achievements of the State of Israel, post-1948. . . .

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. . . .

תחנה אן צום גדליהו | Prayer for the Fast of Gedalyahu (1841)

A teḥinah written in Judeo-German for the Fast of Gedalyah on the day after Rosh Hashanah. . . .

A Prayer for the Love of God, by Rosa Emma Salaman (1851)

This prayer and “A Prayer for Knowledge of the Messiah” were published as “Two Short Prayers” with a lengthy introduction probably penned by Isaac Leeser in the Occident 9:5, Ab 5611/August 1851, p.253-255. . . .

A Prayer for Knowledge of the Messiah, by Rosa Emma Salaman (1851)

Hebrew Source (English)

Oh! Lord God! I come to ask counsel of Thee. Give me, I beseech Thee, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

Oh! God of wisdom, let thy power and thy might be seen in me, for the knowledge that I shall have of thy holy word.

Great . . .

תפילה יהודית לחודש הרמדאן | صلاة يهودية لشهر رمضان | A Jewish Prayer for the Month of Ramadan, by Rav Ḥanan Schlesinger

Ramadan Mubarak رمضان مبارك. “A Jewish Prayer for the Month of Ramadan” with its English translation was first published by Rav Hanan Schlesinger​ on his website, “Breaking Bread and Barriers: Solidarity through Prayer” on 15 June 2017, and composed by him for a Muslim-Jewish Iftar​ (break-fast) on 14 June 2017. . . .

אל שמר המלכה | God Save the Queen (Hebrew translation, ca. 1892)

“God Save the Queen” is an adaptation of “God Save the King,” a work by an unknown author, first circulated by periodicals in mid-18th century England. The author of the Hebrew translation is also unknown and was published in a pamphlet circulated by New Road (Whitechapel) Synagogue in 1892. We are grateful to the Jewish East End of Londonwebsite for providing the source image for the transcription of this work in the Public Domain. . . .

בורא עד אנה | Borei Ad Anah, “Creator! How long” (after 1492 C.E.)

Bore ‘Ad Anah” is a kinah recited in a number of Sephardic communities on Tisha B’av (or in some cases on Shabbat Hazon, the Shabbat preceding Tisha B’av), particularly in the Spanish-Portuguese and North African traditions. The author is unknown, but his name is likely Binyamin based on the acrostic made up of the first letters of the verses. In the kinah, the Children of Israel are compared to a wandering dove caught in a trap by predators, crying out its father, God. The kinah was likely written as a poignant response to the Spanish Inquisition, appropriate to Tisha B’av since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain occurred on the 9th of Av in the year 1492. The version presented here was likely censored, as many manuscripts have the fifth verse presented in the following manner directly calling out their Catholic oppressors,” יועצים עליה עצות היא אנושה זרים העובדים אלילים שלושה אם ובן ורוח כי אין להם בושה גדול ממכאובי.” “They counsel against her and she languishes, the strangers who worship three idols, father, son and spirit, for they have no shame and great is my suffering.” . . .

ז׳ אדר | Ḥonenu Yah Ḥonenu (Forgive Us Yah in the Merit of Moshe Rabbenu)

The 7th of Adar is the traditional date for the yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu and it is also remembered as the day of his birth 120 years earlier. This variation of of the piyyut, Hanenu Yah Hanenu (Forgive Us Yah, Forgive Us), sung on 7 Adar, is attributed to Rabbi Yosef Ḥayyim of Baghdad (the Ben Ish Ḥai, 1832-1909). The earliest published version we could find appears in בקשות: ונוסף עוד פתיחות ופיוטים הנוהגים לומר בזמה הזה (1912) containing piyyutim by Israel ben Moses Najara (1555-1625), a Jewish liturgical poet, preacher, Biblical commentator, kabbalist, and rabbi of Gaza. The contemporary audio recording of the Iraqi nusaḥ presented here was made by משה חבושה (Moshe Ḥavusha). . . .

ז׳ אדר | Tsa’akah Yokheved, a piyyut attributed to Shmuel Shlomo (before 1050 CE)

The 7th of Adar is the traditional date for the yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu and it is also remembered as the day of his birth 120 years earlier. This variation of of the piyyut, Tsa’akah Yokheved, popularly sung on 7 Adar, is first attested in a 1712 Sepharadi mahzor published in Amsterdam, as transcribed above with some minor changes with the contemporary audio recording of the Iraqi nusaḥ made by משה חבושה (Moshe Ḥavusha). (The piyyut appear without niqqud.) An older version (perhaps the original version), attributed in the Maagarim database to Shmuel Shlomo and dated before 1050 CE, is attested in two manuscripts: “London, British Library 699” and “Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Ham. 288”. Ibn Ezra (1089-1167) quotes a stanza from the version we have presented here (“וכבד אמי אחרי התנחמי”) indicating that this version may be at least as old. . . .

A Memory’s fire burns within me still, by Andrew Meit adapted from the Qinah, “Aish Tuqad b’Qirbi”

“A Memory’s fire burns within me still” was adapted by Andrew Meit from Gabriel Seed’s translation of the kinah, Aish Tukad b’kirbi (“A Fire Shall Burn Within Me”). . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Alelai Li: Woe is me! by Elazar ben Killir, circa 7th century CE (translated by Rachel Salston)

Alelai Li” is a kinah recited on the morning of Tisha bAv. It was written by HaKalir around the 7th century. According to the Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, it is number 17 of 50. The title is the refrain of the poem and is an onomatopoeic whimper (try saying it aloud, focusing on the alliteration). It is difficult to translate the opening word “im” which means “if” or “should”. This is an allusion to Job 10:15, “If I have done evil, then woe unto me.” I have decided to translate the kinah not in the conditional tense (which would render “If these horrible things happened, then woe is me!”) but as a lament upon memory; however, the former would be a more accurate (if not more awkward in English) translation. Adding to the awkwardness of the poem’s language is the feminine conditional verb that each line has after the word “im”. I have maintained this strange verb tense and placement in my translation by using the English progressive tense. The kinah ends with a collection in lines in a different meter suggesting that the Holy One (and the paytan himself) is angered that the Jewish people announce their sufferings but not their transgressions. . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Oy Meh Haya Lanu: Oy What Has Happened to Us, by Baruch ben Samuel d.1221 (translated by Rachel Salston)

Oy Meh Haya Lanu” is a kinah traditionally recited on the night of Tisha b’Av directly after the reading of Eikha. According to the Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, it is number 1 of 50. The title is the refrain of the poem, a reflective lament. This kinah is based on the fifth and final chapter of Eikha, taking the opening phrase of each line of the megillah as the first line of each couplet and poetically expanding the description for the second. This translation is an attempt to convey the vulgarity and horror of the paytan’s depiction of the destroyed Jerusalem in vernacular English. The kinah ends just as the megillah ends, with the four verses of pleas for redemption. . . .

אז בהלוך ירמיהו | Az Bahalokh Yirmiyahu: Then As Jeremiah Went, by Elazar ben Killir circa 7th century CE (translated by Gabriel Seed)

Az Bahalokh Yirmiyahu is a kinah, “based on Eikhah Rabati Petikhta 24, in which Jeremiah says to God: “I am like a father who prepared to take his only son to be married, and the son tragically died under the wedding canopy. Do you not feel any pain for me or for my son?” God responds: “Go and rouse Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses from their graves, for they know how to cry…” (Daniel Goldschmidt, Seder Kinot le-Tisha b’Av, Jerusalem, 1972, 98). . . .

וְאָהִימָה מִיָּמִים יָמִימָה | v’Ahimah Miyamim Yamimah: I Will Wail for All Time (translated by Hillary and Daniel Chorny)

V’ahimah Miyamim Yamimah” is a kinah that recounts the tragic tale of the children of Rabbi Yishmael as told in the Babylonian Talmud (Gittin 58a). The handsome brother and fair sister were separated and sold into slavery during the conquest of Jerusalem. Their respective masters, not knowing the two were siblings, paired them with the intent of creating beautiful offspring. In their shared cell, the two wept all night until morning, when they recognized one another. They cried on each other’s necks until their souls departed from their bodies. The narrator of our story laments their terrible fate, ending each verse with a haunting refrain: “And so I will wail for all time.” . . .

אֵשׁ תּוּקַד בְּקִרְבִּי | Aish Tuqad b’Qirbi: A Fire Shall Burn Within Me, translated by Gabriel Seed

Aish Tukad is a kinah for Tisha B’av, usually recited towards the conclusion of the set of dirges for the morning service (in Goldshmidt’s numbering, it is number 32 of our 46 Kinot). According to Goldshmidt’s introduction, the structure of this Piyyut is based on a Midrash in Eicha Zuta 19, where Moses’ praises for God and Israel are seen as parallel to Jeremiah’s laments, thus creating the concept of a comparison between the joy of the Exodus and the pain of the Temple’s destruction. . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Eli Tsiyon v’Ar’eha (Mourn Zion and her cities) translated by Joel Goldstein

Mourn Zion and her cities, like a woman in her birth pains, And like a maiden wrapped in sack-cloth for the husband of her youth Mourn the palace that was abandoned in the sheep’s negligence of its flock, and for the coming of the revulsion of God within the Temple’s rooms. For the exile of the servants of God, who sing her songs, and for their blood that was spilled like the waters of her rivers. . . .

תפילה לעגונות | Prayer for the Liberation of Agunot, by Shelley Frier List (2005)

Creator of heaven and earth, may it be Your will to free the captive wives of Israel when love and sanctity have fled the home, but their husbands bind them in the tatters of their ketubot. Remove the bitter burden from these agunot and soften the hearts of their misguided captors. Liberate Your faithful daughters from their anguish. Enable them to establish new homes and raise up children in peace. Grant wisdom to the judges of Israel; teach them to recognize oppression and rule against it. Infuse our rabbis with the courage to use their power for good alone. Blessed are you, Creator of heaven and earth, who frees the captives. . . .

עשרה בטבת | The Tenth of Tevet on a Friday, Can one fast half a day? by Rabbi Ethan Tucker (Mechon Hadar, Center for Jewish Law and Values)

This Friday (13th December) is Asarah B’Tevet (10th of Tevet), one of the minor fast days in the Jewish calendar. Mechon Hadar’s Rabbi Ethan Tucker provides an overview of the various halakhic issues that are raised by a fasting on a Friday due to the upcoming Shabbat – how do we balance the tragedy of the fall of Jerusalem in 6th century BCE, which our fasting commemorates, with the joy of Shabbat? . . .

תשעה באב | Prayer for Tisha b’Av by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l (translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

During the time before there was a State of Israel, those ideals in our hearts which we tried to practice and which we wanted others to practice, seemed not achievable where we were because, we felt we had no influence over our world where we were. And so, the longing for our homeland was tied into the longing for our dreams and our vision. Now that the state of Israel is with us, our dreams and our visions still remain distant from our lives and therefore when we say the Tisha B’av prayers we need to remind ourselves of the distance between that which we would have in this world and that which we do have. . . .

Birkat Hamazon additions for Tisha b’Av, Shabbat Naḥamu, and Tu b’Av by Gabriel Wasserman

Supplemental prayers for the Birkat Hamazon on Tisha b’Av, Tu b’Av, and Shabbat Naḥamu by Gabriel Wasserman . . .


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