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A new prayer for a new year

The State of Israel is currently poised on the cusp of legally reducing the status of its Arab citizens and their language.  In another development, and a first in Israeli political history, Rabbi Dov Haiyun was recently arrested for carrying out a (non-Orthodox) marriage not under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate.  These suppressions of ethnic and religious pluralism go against not only the values Diaspora Jews such as myself hold dear, but also those Israel committed itself to in its founding document.

As such, I found it opportune, as gabbai in a service on the first day of Rosh Hashana, to supplement the existing Prayer for the State of Israel with the following one written by myself, following a common practice of adding, in times of crisis, a short additional prayer to the service expressing the congregation’s hopes and worries. I have put into bold what I consider to be key words or phrases:

God of our ancestors, of Whom Abraham said “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly”, and Who commanded us, “Justice, justice shall you pursue” and “One law shall there be for both Israelite citizens and resident aliens”, we pray that You give the rulers of the State of Israel the vision to uphold in their land the words of its Declaration of Independence, that:

“The State of Israel… foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; [that] it ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; [that it] guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture,” and that it upholds the appeal therein to its Arab inhabitants to “participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its … institutions.”

As is written in the Torah: “If a foreigner sojourn with you in your land, you shall not vex them, but the foreigner that dwells with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”  And it is written “The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour”: the Jews, not some of them.

May these things come with the help of Heaven to pass, and let us say: Amen.

Michael Grant has been at first involved in, and later in running, a variety of alternate minyanim in London and Berlin for the last decade and a half.

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