A Prayer

This prayer for the living is meant to be prayed in community as a responsive reading. It was written by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat. She is a poet, spiritual director, and the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, MA.

Prayer for the Children of Abraham/Ibrahim

For every aspiring ballerina huddled
scared in a basement bomb shelter

   For every toddler in his mother's arms
    behind rubble of concrete and rebar

For every child who's learned to distinguish
"our" bombs from "their" bombs by sound

   For everyone wounded, cowering, frightened
    and everyone furious, planning for vengeance

For the ones who are tasked with firing shells
where there are grandmothers and infants

    For the ones who fix a rocket's parabola
    toward children on school playgrounds

For every official who sees shelling Gaza
as a matter of "cutting the grass"

    And every official who approves launching projectiles
    from behind preschools or prayer places 

For every kid taught to lob a bomb with pride
And every kid sickened by explosions

   For every teenager who considers
   "martyrdom" his best hope for a future:

May the G-d of compassion and the G-d of mercy
G-d of justice and G-d of forgiveness
    G-d Who shaped creation in Her tender womb
    and nurses us each day with blessing

G-d Who suffers the anxiety and pain
of each of His unique children

   G-d Who yearns for us to take up
   the work of perfecting creation

G-d Who is reflected in those who fight
and in those who bandage the bleeding --

   May our Father, Mother, Beloved, Creator
   cradle every hurting heart in caring hands.

Soon may we hear in the hills of Judah
and the streets of Jerusalem

    in the olive groves of the West Bank
    and the apartment blocks of Gaza City

in the kibbutz fields of the Negev
and the neighborhoods of Nablus

   the voice of fighters who have traded weapons
    for books and ploughs and bread ovens

the voice of children on swings and on slides
singing nonsense songs, unafraid

    the voice of reconciliation and new beginnings
    in our day, speedily and soon.

And let us say: