My thanks to Drew Horn of TAFA for sending me The Knots Prayer.
WE CRY OUT
Where was the shelter of peace that late afternoon when my boyfriend and I were literally stoned by a gang hurling rubble from a dumpster on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn - just for holding hands? Our lives are lived in danger. Our people are assaulted, tortured, killed, simply for being different. As evening falls, we cry out to You as our ancestors did from slavery, groaning under the bondage. You heard their moans and remembered the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God of Mercy, remember us now, in love. God of Justice, open the hearts and minds of those who oppress us. And as darkness falls, let wisdom and love spread out across the world, the two embracing wings of Your shelter of peace.
WE CRY OUT is on page 79 of Siddur Sha'ar Zahav. Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, recently published a beautiful Jewish prayer book. Of all the prayer books I have seen, this is the one that speaks to my heart, and from my heart to G-d. Never have I seen prayers such as these, prayers that speak to my soul, my life, my very being, as a gay man.
A Prayer Not to Be judgmental
Help us to remember that the "jerk" who cut us off in traffic last night
may be a single mother who worked nine hours that day and who is now
rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry, and
spend a few precious minutes with her children.
Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young
man who couldn't make change correctly at the register today is a worried
nineteen-year-old student who is preoccupied with whether he passed his final
exams and with his fear of not getting a student loan for next semester.
Remind us, Lord, that the scary-looking "bum" begging for money in
the same spot every day is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in
our worst nightmares.
Help us to realize that the old couple walking so slowly through the store
aisles, blocking our shopping cart, are savoring this moment, because they
know that, based on the biopsy report she got back yesterday, this may be the
last year they will go shopping together.
From 74 of A Code of Jewish Ethics, Volume 1, You Shall Be Holy, By Rabbi Joseph Telushkin,copyright 2006, Bell Tower.
FOR TIKKUN OLAM
We pray now for the hungry, for the homeless, for the victims of war and catastrophe, for the sick and for the dying. And we pray for our fragile earth, for all her inhabitants, and for life itself.
We ask your blessing on all those engaged in tikkun olam, the healing and transforming of our planet. Open our hearts and stir us to struggle on behalf of your creations. May each of us, all of us, become Your limbs and hands, bringing healing and compassion, justice and peace to Your world.
FOR TIKKUN OLAM is on page 486 of Siddur Sha'ar Zahav.
May slavery give way to freedom.
May hate give way to love.
May ignorance give way to wisdom.
May despair give way to hope.
Next year at this time, may everyone, everywhere be free.
By Gary Konecky
As we sit down at our Passover Seders, we are supposed to experience the story of the Exodus, and how G-d not only set the Israelite slaves free from Egyptian oppression, but that we should personally feel that G-d has set us free. Therefore, I turn to You, G-d, and ask, how are we supposed to do that?
How are we supposed to feel free while we sit in exile and wait for the messiah?
How are we supposed to feel free with no Holy Temple?
All too many of us are unemployed or underemployed. Many of us wonder where our next meal is coming from, or how we will be able to pay our mortgage, or our medical bills? Many of us cannot afford food for Passover or a trip to a doctor. How are we supposed to feel like freed slaves when our economic circumstances may not be different from that of the Israelite slaves?
We have unaccounted for IDF personnel. Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, Gilad Shalit, Jonathan Pollard, among others are being held in captivity. We also have other Jews whose names we do not know “serving time” in prisons throughout the world. How are we supposed to feel free when our brothers and sisters are not?
Anti-Jewish hatred is rising throughout the world. How are we supposed to feel free when at least one national leader is openly plotting a nuclear holocaust for us?
Israel is facing threats to its very existence. How are we supposed to feel free when the very existence of our homeland is in jeopardy?
How are we supposed to feel free when on this very Passover our Torah scrolls and prayer books were burned in the only Jewish house of worship in Corfu, Greece?
How are we supposed to feel free when our Mossad is racing to prevent an attack by Hizballah against a Jewish target, an attack that is timed to coincide with this very Passover?
Then there are those of us who face persecution, those who know the pain, the anguish, and the sting of being on the receiving end of bigotry and hate? How are we supposed to feel free as we are being oppressed? How are we supposed to feel free when all too often governments do the bidding of these hate mongers and bigots? How are we supposed to feel free when some of the very people at our Seder table, as well as our brothers and sisters who are not at our Seder table, are being persecuted?
Dear G-d, we cry out to You as our brothers and sisters cried out to You so many years ago. We cry out to you because our burdens already are or will soon be too much for many of us to bear. We cry out to You as Your people once again feel the boot of the oppressor on their necks. We cry out to You as we face yet another potential holocaust, a holocaust just as deadly as the one we experienced not that many years ago. As we cry out to You, we ask that You again deliver us as you did on Passover for our brothers and sisters in Egypt so many years ago. We ask that You again escort us into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. We ask that You restore Your Holy Temple. We again ask that Your Priests teach us Your Holy Torah. We ask that wise sages, sages like those in the Talmud, rise up and lead our generation. We ask that you bring us under Your sheltering presence. We are tired of this long and bitter exile and ask that You redeem us now!
If you choose not to redeem us, we ask that You take each and every one of us by the hand just as a loving parent walks a child across a busy, dangerous, street. We ask that You take us and help us to navigate this dangerous world, and lovingly sit with us and teach each and every one of us what we must do to bring the Messiah here and now.
We also ask that You deliver Your people from harm, from persecution, from bigotry and hatred, and that You free all our captives wherever and whoever they are.
Please see the following link for attacks on Jews that occurred this Passover after this prayer was published:
COMMUNAL PRAYER OF REMEMBRANCE
O G-d, remember today those members of our family who were martyred in years past because of their sexual orientation or gender identity: those murdered by fanatics in the Middle Ages, those perished in the Holocaust, and those struck down in our own cities, in our own time. Remember also those who took their own lives, driven to despair by a world that hated them. And in mercy remember those who lived lives of loneliness, repressing their true nature and refraining from sharing their love with another. O G-d, watch over the souls of the beloved ones: lesbian, gay bisexual transgender, and help us bring an end to hate and oppression of every kind.
COMMUNAL PRAYER OF REMEMBRANCE is on page 491 of Siddur Sha'ar Zahav. In 2009, Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, (the gay and lesbian synagogue of San Fransisco, published a beautiful gay and lesbian Jewish prayer book. Of all the prayer books I have seen, this is the one that speaks to my heart, and from my heart to G-d. Never have I seen prayers such as these, prayers that speak to my soul, my life, my very being, as a gay man.