Prayer for the Children of Abraham/ Ibrahim

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

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 God of compassion and the God of mercy

God of justice and God of forgiveness

    God Who shaped creation in Her tender womb

    and nurses us each day with blessing

God Who suffers the anxiety and pain

of each of His unique children

    God Who yearns for us to take up

    the work of perfecting creation

God 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:

    amen.

 

Notes:

On “every aspiring ballerina huddled,” see Twenty minutes in a Tel Aviv bomb shelter, Jewschool.

On children distinguishing bombs by sound, see A message to Israel’s leaders: Don’t defend me – not like this, Ha’aretz.

On “mowing the grass,” see Israel, Gaza, and the patterns of the past, Washington Post.

On “projectiles / from behind preschools or prayer places,” see Dealing with Hamas’s human shield tactics, Jerusalem Post.

“Soon may we hear…” is a reference to the final blessing in the set of Sheva Brachot / Seven Blessings recited at every Jewish wedding.

As a mother, as a human being, as a Jew, and as a rabbi, this prayer/poem is the best articulation I can offer of what my heart and soul are feeling right now. I pray for God to heal the hearts of all who suffer: Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and non-Jews, “us” and “them,” combatants on both sides, those who fear on both sides, those who mourn on both sides, those who benefit from the existing systems in place and those who struggle within those systems. Please, God, speedily and soon.  —  RB

All are welcome to share and to use this prayer in your community if it speaks to you, as long as you preserve its origin / attribution.

 

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