Funerals will soon begin here in Israel for the victims of yesterday’s terrorist attack on Israelis in Bourgas, Bulgaria. Meanwhile, our government has fixed blame on Iran and has pledged a response. Funerals and responses. Grief and courage. Mourning and self-defense.
Here are two prayers: one for funerals, one a response. The first is a Yizkor prayer for victims of anti-Semitism. It also memorializes victims in every generation and includes prayers for the defenders of Israel and for the righteous of all nations. I wrote it after a brutal anti-Semetic attack in Toulouse, France. The second is a prayer for the terrorist. This is tricky. What do we pray on behalf of those who hate, murder and destroy? “To the Terrorist” is from of “A Liturgy for 9-11.”
At the Hand of Anti-Semitism: A Yizkor Prayer
Creator of all,
Source and shelter,
Grant a perfect rest under your tabernacle of peace
To ______________________ (name in Hebrew or your native tongue),
My [father / mother / sister / brother / child / wife / dear one/ friend]
Whose life was [lives were] cut off by violence,
An act of witless aggression
And calculated anti-Semitism.
We remember his / her / their wisdom, talents and skills,
Joy, laughter and tears.
We remember the works of his / her / their hands
And the message of his / her / their heart[s].
Let these memories continue to bless us
Even as we pray for him / her / them to find peace
In the world to come.
Remember the virtues of those who’ve died
At the hand of malice
In every generation.
Bless the defenders of Israel
With safety and strength,
And the righteous of all nations who
Provide protection, shelter and comfort
To our people.
Put an end to anger, hatred and fear
And lead us to a time when no one will suffer at the hand of another,
Speedily, in our days.
May the memory [memories] of _____________________ be sanctified with joy and love.
May his / her / their soul[s] be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.
© 2012 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
To the Terrorist
You who would hold the sky captive,
The sea prisoner,
The land in chains…
You who hide in caves,
Retreat to the wilderness,
Disappear behind false names and forged papers…
You who smuggle guns and arms,
Hide rockets in cities and bombs in homes,
Build weapons against the innocent and the bystander…
You whose designs are destruction,
Whose plans are fear,
Whose joy is hate…
You who harden your hearts
And wrap yourselves in death…
What evil has robbed you of your love,
What lies have invaded your minds
So that you choose to die in order to kill?
We who love our lives and liberty
Stand firm and strong against terror.
We will defend our nation and our people.
We will protect our land and our homes.
And we pray for you to find hope and comfort
In lives of peace.
© 2011 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
Postscript: “To the Terrorist” is from a set of prayers called “A Liturgy for 9-11.” “At the Hand of Anti-Semitism” is an adaptation of two of my other Yizkor prayers: “At the Hand of Violence” and “At the Hand of Terror.” Please also read “For the Jews of France,” a prayer for safety and healing.