On Wednesday evening, as our country continued counting votes, and as political differences exposed the great divide in our nation, our congregation came together to reflect, comfort one another, and provide opportunity to share.
Even though it was a mid-week gathering, we ended with Havdalah – a ceremony usually observed Saturday evening when Shabbat ends, marking the division between the holy (Shabbat) and the ordinary (the rest of the week). We observe Havdalah with a candle made from multiple wicks.
Why Havdalah on a Wednesday? Because this unique moment in time required that we harness the intertwining light that connects us. We want to move from rancor to righteousness and from darkness to discovery. We all need to heal.
I shared a prayer written by Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan (of blessed memory), a Conservative Rabbi who founded the Reconstructionist Jewish Movement. I share the prayer here for all of us to consider.
With love and shalom,
Rabbi Zach Shapiro
That America Fulfil the Promise of Its Founding
O God, who is Liberator and Redeemer, Lawgiver and Judge,
who rules over all mankind
and presides over the destinies of nations,
we invoke your continued blessing on our Republic,
which your grace called into being,
and your love has sustained to this day.
May America remain loyal
to the principles of the Declaration of Independence,
and extend their application
to ever widening areas of life.
Keep out of our life all manner of oppression,
and unjust discrimination;
save us from religious,
racial and class conflicts;
may our country be a haven of refuge
to the victims of injustice and misrule.
Instruct us in the art of living together,
of reconciling differences of opinion
and averting clashes of interest,
of helping one another
to achieve a harmonious and abundant life.
Give us the wisdom to elect to leadership capable,
conscientious men, men of integrity
who will govern our people
according to your law of righteousness.
Bless the enterprise of the American people,
that they may utilize the natural resources of the land
for the highest good of all men.
May America be ever hospitable
to new revelations of truth in science and philosophy,
ever sensitive to the appeal of beauty in nature and art,
ever responsive to the call of duty
and the spirit of religious consecration and worship;
And may Americans so love their country
that they shall withhold no sacrifice required
to safeguard its life and to fulfil its promise;
That the Star-Spangled Banner,
the symbol of our American democracy,
may ever wave o’er the land of the free
and the home of the brave.
(Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, 1945, taken from the Open Siddur Project)