High Priest’s Prayer for Those on Fault-Lines

As the ancient Jewish community added a prayer on Yom Kippur for those in an especially vulnerable spot, let us consider doing the same:

May this year that is coming be one of abundance, building, compromise, dialogue, respect and understanding, a year in which all realize their interdependence and work together for the common good.

And concerning the inhabitants of Washington, DC: May it be Your will, Adonai, our God and God of our ancestors, that they find common ground on which to safely build in the days to come, so that the fault-lines of race and class do not become their demise.*

“Do not overlook the bile on the ballot. The disappointment, anger, feelings of betrayal that propelled this vote…have not burned out,” wrote a Washington, DC, columnist** after Tuesday’s primary election, including expressions like “Myopic little twits” and “You blacks, always playing the race card.” I don’t personally disagree with most of Milloy’s sentiments. I do not believe the rancor undue. Instead, I cite his column to help illustrate how the racially-oriented focus — and the general breakdown of civil discourse — of this election period has put us on land as unstable as the Sharon.

Meanwhile, the dangerous national — and international — climate of intolerance, hate and fear already threaten our nation and its capital. We, in DC, as across the U.S. are in a most vulnerable spot as we enter the new year.

May all be sealed for a better new year.

At the close of the Yom Kippur service during the Second Temple period, the high priest — having survived the annual divine encounter in the Holy of Holies — gave thanks and prayed for the welfare of the People. In many contemporary prayer books for the high holidays, an acrostic prayer for a good year follows the recollection of the ancient prayer service. Although no other location-specific prayers were preserved, we have a special prayer that was offered for the residents of the Sharon, who resided on land subject to flash-floods, landslides and earthquakes.

“May it be Your will, HASHEM, our God and the God of our forefathers, that this year that is coming upon us and upon all Your people, the Family of Israel, be a year in which You open Your treasury for us, a year of abundance, a year of blessing,…a year of prosperity,…a year in which you will save our community,…a year in which Your people Israel need not be dependent upon one another or upon another people, as You bestow blessing upon their handiwork.

“And concerning the inhabitants of the Sharon he would say: May it be Your will, HASHEM, our God and the God of our forefathers, that their homes not become their graves.”
— The Complete Artscroll Machzor [high holiday prayer book]: Yom Kippur, p. 571 back

**Courtland Milloy, “DC Election Didn’t Just Unseat…” (Thursday, September 16, 2010; B01)

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Virginia hosts "Conversations Toward Repair" on We Act Radio, manages WeLuvBooks.org, blogs on general stuff a vspatz.net and more Jewish topics at songeveryday.org and Rereading4Liberation.com

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