Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Jew's prayer for the children of Gaza

Emily, a dear friend of mine from San Francisco, a Jewish feminist, sent this today and asked that I post it. I do so gladly and with tears, which she is also weeping in her heart.

It is from the blog of Bradley Burston, the English language editor of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Lord who is the creator of all children, hear our prayer this accursed day. God whom we call Blessed, turn your face to these, the children of Gaza, that they may know your blessings, and your shelter, that they may know light and warmth, where there is now only blackness and smoke, and a cold which cuts and clenches the skin.

Almighty who makes exceptions, which we call miracles, make an exception of the children of Gaza. Shield them from us and from their own. Spare them. Heal them. Let them stand in safety. Deliver them from hunger and horror and fury and grief. Deliver them from us, and from their own.

Restore to them their stolen childhoods, their birthright, which is a taste of heaven.

Remind us, O Lord, of the child Ishmael, who is the father of all the children of Gaza. How the child Ishmael was without water and left for dead in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba, so robbed of all hope, that his own mother could not bear to watch his life drain away.

Be that Lord, the God of our kinsman Ishmael, who heard his cry and sent His angel to comfort his mother Hagar.

Be that Lord, who was with Ishmael that day, and all the days after. Be that God, the All-Merciful, who opened Hagar's eyes that day, and showed her the well of water, that she could give the boy Ishmael to drink, and save his life.

Allah, whose name we call Elohim, who gives life, who knows the value and the fragility of every life, send these children your angels. Save them, the children of this place, Gaza the most beautiful, and Gaza the damned.

In this day, when the trepidation and rage and mourning that is called war, seizes our hearts and patches them in scars, we call to you, the Lord whose name is Peace:

Bless these children, and keep them from harm.

Turn Your face toward them, O Lord. Show them, as if for the first time, light and kindness, and overwhelming graciousness.

Look up at them, O Lord. Let them see your face.

And, as if for the first time, grant them peace.

With thanks to Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman of Kol HaNeshama, Jerusalem.

* * * * * * * *

Another recent piece of Burston's is here. (It is called "Gaza War Diary III: If Mexico shelled Texas, like Hamas shells Israel .")

6 comments: said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pj said...

Looks like some spam up there. :(

Anyway, this gorgeous. I'm going to link to it from my place, if you don't mind.

Jane R said...

Yeah, I'm going to delete it, though I might save the info in case I need it. I'll ask Brother of Acts of Hope, who knows the Vatican scene and the Rome media scene, if he has heard of this over on his side of the Atlantic.

When I have a spare minute, ha.

At least it is prayer spam and not hate speech.

And of course I don't mind your linking to this. Link away. It will make Emily happy. She is a peace advocate and a mother and the whole situation is breaking her heart.

The word verification says "boola."

Ken said...

The spam is still there. Please send it back to the canned meat section.

The breaks my heart to think that we even have to offer prayers like this: for the broken children, the terrified, and God forgive us all, the dead.

In my old synagogue over twenty years ago, the rabbi--on the night of Kol Nidre--gave a sermon in which he brought up the scholarly question "What does God do all day?" There were various answers. The one that stood out was "God is a melamed (a teacher of young children). "He teaches Torah to children who died too young to learn it on Earth."

The rabbi looked up and shouted "I cannot accept this!"

Neither can I. Because our children should not have to go to God to learn Torah, the Gospels, or the Koran. They should be passed on here, on earth, so they can be passed on to others.

Jane R said...

The spam is still there. Please send it back to the canned meat section.

Yeah, I left it there for a while in case anyone was interested... :-b

Off it goes now. Plus, spam isn't kosher.

pj said...

Ken, if I had ever heard a sermon that interesting at my old synagogue, I'd still be going there.

Jane, my first instinct was to say "Spam isn't Kosher" but given the seriousness of the post, I thought I'd wait a while. Heh.