Friday, August 14, 2009

Prayer for the Slain and Injured at the Gay Community Center in Tel Aviv

This prayer expresses grief and sorrow over the horrific and murderous attack at the gay Community Center in Tel Aviv on August 1, 2009 and the heightened sense of responsibility and obligation that all Jews and communities, across the denominations, must share in response. This tfillah was recited in numerous synagogues on Shabbat Parshat Ekev (August 8, 2009), both Orthodox and non-Orthodox, and was delivered at an interdenominational memorial and tehillim service at the JCC of Manhattan on Monday night, August 10, 2009.

Mi shebeirach Avoteinu Avraham, Yitzhak, v'Yaakov, v'Imoteinu Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, v'Leah, Hu yivarech v'yerafeh et hacholim v'hacholot shenifg'u b'pigua hachavlani v'haraztchani b'Tel Aviv, b'Artzeinu HaKedosha, ba'avur she'anachnu mitpallelim ba'avuram, b'schar zeh, Ha Kadosh Baruch Hu, yimaleh Rachamim aleihem, l'hachalim ul'rapotam, ul'hachazikam ul'hachiyotam, va'yishlach lahem meheira refuah shleimah min ha Shamayim, b'toch sh'ar cholei Yisrael, refuat ha nafesh u'refuat haguf, Shabbat hi miliz'ok u'refuah krovah lavo.

Master of the Universe, watch over the souls of the slain and bring healing to those who were injured in the violent and murderous attack in Tel Aviv in our Holy Land. See how not only the bodies, but the souls and lives of these persons have been shattered. See how this support group for teenagers - this place which for many of them was their one refuge of protection, support, and acceptance - how this haven has now been violated and has now become a place of danger, of vulnerability, and of death. Heal their bodies, heal their souls and heal their spirits.

O Lord, you have taught us in Your Torah the mitzvah of the egla arufa. You have taught us that when a person is murdered and it is not known who the murder is, that it is the leaders of the community who must look inward and ask what sins of commission or omission could have allowed such a tragedy to occur. Who among us can say yadeinu lo shafchu et ha dam ha zeh, that we did not have a hand by our silence and inaction in this slaying? Who among us can say, lo ra'inuhu u'ptarnuhu b'lo mezonoz uv'lo leviyah, that we did everything in our power to ensure that these victims were cared for physically and emotionally, to ensure that we gave them friendship and protection? O Lord, we cannot make this declaration of innocence.

Master of the Universe, give us the courage to stand up to and reject all forms of hateful speech and violence. Give us the strength of spirit to refuse to tolerate the rejection of any human being, each of whom is created in b'tzelem Elokim, in Your Divine image. Help us to internalize in our hearts and to manifest in our actions the mandate of the verse in this week's parsha; v'ahavtem et ha ger, ki gerim hayyitem be'eretz Mitzrayim, that it is our responsibility to care for, to love, and to protect all members of our society, and in particular those who are most vulnerable and most likely to feel estranged and rejected. Help us to value every member of our society for whom he or she is, to care for them, to support them, and to recognize that they are an equal part of our community ka'ger ka'ezrach yihyeh. Give us the strength to fully actualize - in our speech and in our actions - the maxim that kol Yisrael arevim zeh ba zeh, that the entirety of the Jewish people, straight and gay, is interwoven with and responsible for every one of its members.

We cannot change the past, but we can work to change the future, so we pray, O Lord, that You accept our mourning and our prayers, and give us the strength to change. We pray that we can make the necessary sacrifices to live up to our obligations to You and to every human being who is created in Your image, and that this can bring partial atonement for the dam naki b'kerev am'cha Yisrael, for the innocent blood that has been shed and allowed to have been shed in the midst of Your people, of Israel.

Chaper am'cha Yisrael, Atone for Your people, O Lord, bring us healing, a healing of persons, a healing of society, help us create a society where all are protected, cared for, and valued, and let no innocent blood ever again be spilled. Now and speedily in our days, and let us say, Amen

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