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. . . .

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. . . .

The Pious Man, a prayer-poem by Mordecai Kaplan adapted from the essay “An Analysis of Piety” by Abraham Joshua Heschel (1942)

“The Pious Man” is a prayer-poem from Mordecai Kaplan’s diary entry, September 19, 1942, on the virtue of piety as expressed in an essay published earlier that year by Abraham Joshua Heschel. Piety was a Roman virtue, but in this essay, A.J. Heschel appears to be describing an idealization of Ḥasidut. . . .

Needed Prophets for Our Day, a prayer-poem by Mordecai Kaplan (1942) adapted from “The Divinity School Address” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

This prayer by Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, first penned in his diary for 23 August 1942, was first published in The Radical American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan, by Mel Scult (1990). Although the prayer was not included in Kaplan’s Sabbath Prayer Book (New York: The Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, 1945), it was added to the loose-leaf prayerbook he kept at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism synagogue. . . .

Blessing over Separation, by Shelby Handler

The Blessing over Separations was first read by Shelby Handler on Rosh Ḥodesh Kislev at the 2017 ADVA Reunion, a reunion of the community of Adamah Farm fellows and Teva Learning Center educators at Isabella Freedman Retreat Center. . . .

A Vision, by Rosa Emma Salaman (1850)

The poem, “A Vision” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was written November 1850 and first published in the Occident and American Jewish Advocate 9:1, Nissan 5611/April 1851, p.31-33. . . .

God Our Light by Rosa Emma Salaman (1845)

The poem, “God Our Light” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was first published in the Occident and American Jewish Advocate 3:8, Marḥeshvan 5606, November 1845, p.379-380. . . .

The Body Speaking to the Soul Which Just Left It by Rosa Emma Salaman (1842)

The poem, “The Body Speaking to the Soul Which Just Left It.” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was written in March 1842 and first published in the Occident and American Jewish Advocate 2:4, Tamuz 5604, July 1844, p. 200-202. . . .

The Angels’ Vigil by Rosa Emma Salaman (1848)

The poem, “The Angels’ Vigil” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was written in April 12, 1848 and first published in the Occident and American Jewish Advocate 6:3, Sivan 5608, June 1848, p. 127-128. . . .

A Description of my Dreams by Rosa Emma Salaman (1848)

The poem, “A Description of my Dreams” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was written in September 1849 and first published in the Occident and American Jewish Advocate Vol. 6:4, Tamuz 5608, July 1848, p.175-177. . . .

Elijah, by Rosa Emma Salaman (1849)

The poem, “Elijah” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was first published in the Occident 6:7, Kislev 5610, December 1849, p. 455-457. . . .

Divine Love, by Rosa Emma Salaman (1848)

The poem, “Divine Love” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was first published in the Occident 6:7, Tishrei 5609, October 1849, p. 197-198. . . .

Song of the Spirit, by Rosa Emma Salaman (1848)

The poem, “Song of the Spirit” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was first published in the Occident 6:7, Tishrei 5609, October 1848. . . .

Night, by Rosa Emma Salaman (1846)

The poem, “Night” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was first published in the Occident 3:11, Shebat 5606, February 1846. . . .

Twilight, by Rosa Emma Salaman (1849)

The poem, “Twilight” by Rosa Emma Salaman, was first published in the Occident 7:5, Ab 5609/August 1849, p.245. . . .

Enoch, by Rosa Emma Salaman (1846)

“Enoch” by Rosa Emma Salaman was first published in the Occident 4:9, Kislev 5607/December 1846. . . .

שיר של מרים הנביאה | The Song of Miriam, a petiḥah by Rabbi Ruth H. Sohn (1981)

“The Song of Miriam” by Rabbi Ruth Sohn was first published as “I Shall Sing to the Lord a New Song,” in Kol Haneshamah: Shabbat Vehagim, Reconstructionist Prayerbook, 1989, 1995 Second Edition. Reconstructionist Press, pp. 768-769. (This poem was also published in several haggadot and other books and set to music by several composers in the U.S. and Israel.) Rabbi Sohn wrote the poem in 1981 as a rabbinical student after immersing herself in the Torah verses and the traditional midrashim about Miriam, and after writing a longer modern midrash about Miriam. Part of this modern midrash was published as “Journeys,” in All the Women Followed Her, ed. Rebecca Schwartz (Rikudei Miriam Press, 2001). . . .

Loss of what could be; but is – a prayer-poem in eulogy after a suicide, by Andrew Meit

This eulogy by Andrew Meit was read at Temple Beit Ami in Rockville, Maryland at the funeral of Benjamin Meit. Andrew writes, “Ben would have turned 19 next week. He died from complications from depression and mental illness.” Donations in Ben’s memory may be made here. If you or anyone you know is in need of help, please call 911, or 1-800 273 8255, the national suicide prevention hotline. . . .

A Blessing for the Bugs on Rosh Ḥodesh Elul and Rosh Hashana LaBehemot, by Trisha Arlin

I have come to see That we are not the only creatures who are B’tzelem Elohim, We are all in God’s image. So today, on Rosh Ḥodesh Elul, On the New Year of the Domesticated Beasts, Let’s give thanks to the bugs Like the four questioning children Wise and snarky and simple and oblivious, Like the four worlds of the kabbala The earth, the sky, the heart and the spirit We give thanks and acknowledge The bugs we have domesticated The bugs who serve us in their wild state The bugs that hurt us or gross us out And the bugs who live only for themselves, without any reference to us. . . .

הבדלה | Distinctions (Havdalah) for the end of Shabbat

Wax drips from the braided candle.
Cinnamon tingles the nose
to keep us from fainting
as the extra soul departs.
Stop now. Notice this hinge
between Shabbat
and what’s next. . . .

Saturday Afternoon Request by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

Help me to silence
my mind’s aggravation alarm,
to quiet the voice which says
the to-do list matters,
to temporarily eschew
continuous partial attention. . . .

נשמת כל חי | Nishmat Kol Ḥai: The Breath of All Life (for Shabbat morning) by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

…if we could discard differences: human,
animal, fire, stone, seed, snow

even that cry of togetherness
would not be enough to thank You. . . .

תפילה לבאסטאן | Prayer After the Bombing in Boston, by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat (2013)

I wrote this a few days after the Boston Marathon bombing. It arose out of a meditation service which I led at my synagogue. The doors to our sanctuary were open, so we had the sounds of the nearby wetland in our ears, and I invited the meditators to join me in cultivating compassion and sending it toward Boston. The line “My heart is in the east and I am in the west” is adapted from the medieval Spanish poet Judah haLevi. . . .

סדר לפסח: שתי כוסות, לאליהו ומרים | Two Cups: Elijah and Miriam, by Trisha Arlin

We lift Miriam’s cup, Dancing prophet celebrating the world that is now. And we tell God we are grateful For the water from the earth that was Miriam’s gift, Welcome necessity, On God’s behalf. Miriam announces joy! And teaches us to save ourselves. Miriam, the bringer of mercy, There’s no prayer for her in the haggadah— So make one up! . . .

רפא אותי | Heal Me by Trisha Arlin

I have been asked to write a healing prayer So I tried But I can’t do it I don’t have the soothing words I’m in pain Right now And it’s been going on for a while And it looks like it’s going to last longer than it takes to write this prayer

So instead I offer to you A pain prayer . . .

In Search of Seraḥ: A Prayer to Seraḥ by Chaya Kaplan-Lester

[In Parshat Vayigash] we read of the members of Jacob’s family who went down to Egypt. There were 53 grandsons listed, but only a single granddaughter – Seraḥ, the daughter of Asher. The commentators wonder, what was so exceptional about this girl that her name was recorded? The Midrash spills forth with stories portraying an image of a unique and endearing Biblical heroine. Seraḥ stands as a trusted, beloved sage of the people. She possessed an uncommon gift of healing through poetry and music. Somewhat as Orpheus is to Greek myth, so is Seraḥ to the Biblical myth – the archetypal poet and bard. . . .

כוונה להדליק נרות | A Prayer for Candle-lighting, by Chaya Kaplan-Lester

Please God Let me light More than flame tonight. More than wax and wick and sliver stick of wood. More than shallow stream of words recited from a pocket book. . . .

שמע | Sh’ma: an Interpretation for the 21st Century by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (2003)

Sh’sh’sh’ma Yisra’el — Listen, You Godwrestlers! Pause from your wrestling and hush’sh’sh To hear — YHWH/ Yahh Hear in the stillness the still silent voice, The silent breathing that intertwines life; YHWH/ Yahh elohenu Breath of life is our God, What unites all the varied forces creating all worlds into one-ness, Each breath unique, And all unified; YHWH / Yahh echad! Yahh is One. Listen, You Godwrestlers! No one people alone owns this Unify-force; YHWH / Yahh is One. . . .


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