On June 25, 2019, T’ruah Executive Director Rabbi Jill Jacobs delivered the following invocation at the opening dinner of the Council on Foreign Relations’ annual Religion and Foreign Policy Workshop in New York City, following a speech by Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador at large for religious freedom:
ריבונו של עולם
Guiding power of the universe
You brought us forth from slavery to freedom, from oppression to liberation.
You teach us in Your Torah, in the portion Jews read this Shabbat:
I am Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt (Mitzrayim) to be your God.
You teach us in through the words of the medieval Jewish sage, Rashi:
On this condition I redeemed you: That you would accept My laws upon yourselves.
God, You have taught us that freedom from human servitude means the obligation to serve You. You brought us out from Mitzrayim—the narrow place, the land of oppression—and charged us to ensure that the lands of our freedom would never resemble Mitzrayim.
In Mitzrayim, the majority feared and suspected a minority, and subjected them to enslavement and violence. In this land, God, give us the wisdom to reject the idolatry of placing any race or religion in mastery over others. Give us the courage to embrace the dignity and rights of every single human being, created equally in Your image, and to delight in the many cultures of Your creations.
In Mitzrayim, the majority’s hatred and denigration of a foreign minority, justified ripping babies out of the arms of their parents. In this land, God, give us the compassion to treat all children with love, to take responsibility for their health and safety, and to ensure that they are safe in the arms of their families.
In Mitzrayim, Pharaoh, an autocratic and narcissistic leader subjugated both his own people and foreigners, in order to enrich and empower himself, and to build monuments to his own glory. In this land, God, give us the strength to preserve democracy and the rule of law, for we are all equal in Your sight.
In the words of the Psalms:
You secure justice for the oppressed, provide food for the hungry, and set free those who are imprisoned.
You have commanded us in your Torah, to walk in your ways.
We thank you, God, for the opportunity and the obligation to serve You. We thank you for bringing us together in this sacred task: to repair brokenness, and to establish justice and righteousness for all people in this land.
ברוך אתה ה’ מלך אוהב צדקה ומשפט
Blessed are you, Adonai, who loves justice and righteousness.