Offering a Prayer for America

Over the past eight months, as the pace of events in the United States has accelerated with every passing day, it has seemed not only appropriate but essential in the daily school minyan I lead to recite a prayer for America. It was difficult, however, to find an existing tefillah that reflects and articulates the concerns and aspirations of our community. I therefore felt the need to develop a tefillah for our community by surveying existing tefillot and by considering what new and different sentiments might be included.  Though I realize this might strike some as arrogant, for which I apologize, I offer it respectfully and with a belief, for myself at least, that while almost all tefillot are off-limits for adaptation, some are not, for example – again in my opinion – those that do not carry the full weight of tradition and are discretionary rather than obligatory. There are also times when the absence altogether of a relevant tefillah (not the case here) presents a need that must be filled.

With that said, I offer the following Prayer for America:

אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֶאֱלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, קַבֵּל נָא בְּרַחֲמִים אֶת תְּפִלָּתֵנוּ בְּעַד אַרְצוֹת הַבְּרִית בְּאָמֶרִיקָה וּמֶמְשַׁלְתָּהּ. בָּטֵל שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם וְאַלִּימוּת מֵאַרְצֵנוּ וְתַשְׁכִּין שָׁלוֹם גָּדוֹל וְנִפְלָא בְּתוֹכֵנוּ. יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ שֶׁתְּהֵא אַרְצֵנוּ בְּרָכָה לְכָל אֶזְרָחֶיהָ, וְתַשְׁרֶה  מַרְפֵּא, רֵעוּת וְחֵרוּת בֵּין כָּל נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה. וְקַיֵּם בִּמְהֵרָה מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁל “וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ,” וְנִהְיֶה מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן, אוֹהֵב שָׁלוֹם וְרוֹדֵף שָׁלוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת. וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן

Our God and God of our ancestors, please accept our prayer with mercy on behalf of the United States of America and its government. Remove all senseless hatred and violence from our country, and cause a great and incredible peace among us. May it be your will that our land is a blessing for all her citizens, and that healing, friendship and freedom settle over all living creatures. May the positive commandment of the Torah be fulfilled to “love your fellow as yourself,” and may we follow the example of Aharon, a lover of peace, pursuer of peace and lover of all creatures. And let us say, Amen.

Offered by Rabbi Jack Nahmod incorporating passages from various siddurim and texts.

About the Author
Rabbi Jack Nahmod is a middle school administrator at a school in Manhattan. He has a Masters Degree in Jewish Studies and is also an attorney.
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