Jewish prayer services often include a prayer for the US and Israeli governments, following the instruction of the prophet Jeremiah to the Jews in Babylonian exile (Jeremiah 29:7) and following the guidance of the ancient rabbinic sages who taught “Pray for the welfare of the government.” (Pirkei Avot 3:2) Many synagogues have a standard “Prayer for Our Country” and “Prayer for Israel” that is printed in the prayer book and recited on Shabbat.
What follows are two alternatives to the more traditional prayers. The first was one written by Rabbi Chai Levy on February 15, 2019 for Shabbat services at Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, CA. In recent months, she has been offering alternatives to this prayer, as the printed version doesn’t quite express what needs to be said in these “not normal” times. The second is a Prayer for Peace written by Cat Zavis.
Prayer for our Country when the President declares a National Emergency
Rabbi Chai Levy
God of Justice,
Help us in this time of national emergency,
The real national emergency, that is:
A crisis of leadership at the highest levels of government,
A crisis of truth,
A crisis of the abuse of power,
A crisis of democracy.
God of Truth,
Help us face the real national emergencies:
The climate crisis that threatens Your precious and precarious world,
The crisis of gun violence, as we mark the anniversary of another school shooting and remember the lives stolen and shattered,
The crisis of the deep divides in our country,
The crises of hatred, racism, and poverty.
God of Hope,
Give us faith in America,
and help us work toward an America that merits our faith.
Prayer for Peace
Cat J. Zavis
May the Shechinah, the compassionate, enwombed one, spread a sukkah of peace and guard over all the people whose families are being ripped apart, and whose lives are uprooted and destroyed by the actions of the US and Israeli governments and other governments throughout the world. May the people of those countries be strengthened to be rodfey shalom (pursuers of peace) and rodfey tzedek (pursuers of justice). May their bodies, their homes, and their lands be protected and safe.
May the Transformative Power of the Universe uplift and strengthen all the peace-makers, social change and environmental activists, prophets, and all those working to heal and transform our world.
May all these separate sparks of light be unified into one, drawing in and transforming darkness into light so we can together build the mishkan (holy dwelling) here on earth for all.
May our light spread through the lands so that we truly partner with el Shaddai, the nurturing life giving one, and build a loving, just, caring, generous, life sustaining world and let that happen in our days, Now.
And let us say Amen.