The one-year anniversary of the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh arrives in just a few more days. The newspaper articles and commemorations began to appear a few weeks ago. Memories of trauma, of lives lost, of violence, of dreams cut off, reverberating from a congregation, to a city, across the US and around the world. Personal stories. Deep reflections. New prayers. The Jewish community weeping together.
The shloshim for the murdered, the end of a 30-day mourning period, came just before Hanukkah 2018. Moved by the contrast between a joyous festival juxtaposed in time against the attack, I wrote a prayer called “Maoz Tzur for Pittsburgh.” As a result, I found myself in Pittsburgh on the night of Shabbat Hannukah last year reading that prayer.
While in Pittsburgh, I participated and co-led a discussion about prayer at Rodef Shalom with Rabbi Aaron Bisno. At the end of the session, I presented the idea of Six-Word Prayers, that all an individual might need is six words to express an entire prayer. People wrote their prayers on 3×5 index cards. Twelve people gave me those cards with permission to share them. Of course, some folks used a few extra words.
I’ve been reluctant to share them, even with permission. With the anniversary approaching, maybe it’s time to take those prayers out of the drawer and use them. Here they are:
- To feel safe at home in Pittsburgh.
- Let God’s patience help me now.
- May I find God in living.
- Let the Lord be my Shepard.
- That all who know us recognize us as whole humans.
- May I grow closer to those I love.
- May our leaders fulfill the responsibilities of their positions.
- Allow me knowledge, wisdom and peace.
- Healing Light. Strength of Spirit. Music to Inspire.
- I believe in miracles. I believe in parents reuniting with children. I believe in community support to fight hate.
- For my friends: Shalom. Peace. Kindness. Charity. Love. Understanding.
- I pray for peace all over the world.
May these prayers be heard in the highest heavens, for the Jews of Pittsburgh, for the Jewish community worldwide, and for all the nations of the earth.