Inspired by Yehudah Amichai z”l and Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

In memory of Mike Brown z”l, Eric Garner z”l, and many, many others

Recited as part of a Pilgrimage of Lament

Berkeley, CA 12/14/14






Dearest God,

We stand before you because we must.

We stand before You because

truths that should be self-evident

are not so evident in our country.

And so we turn to you to breathe

ever more of Your Spirit into us

because we find we cannot breathe,

the arms of armed forces wrapped around our throats

when we call out for justice.

We call to you in defiance of

of a national system that betrays our noble ideals,

where tanks and blood fill our streets,

where every Black man, woman, and child is

twenty times likelier to be killed by police.

We shout to the Heavens with one, unified voice:

Black. Lives. Matter.

We are called by scripture to pray for the day when we will

beat swords into plowshares and study war no more,

when the surplus of war led by greed and deception

will not spill into our streets,

where swords and tanks and rubber bullets and tear gas

will be beaten thinner and thinner,

the iron of hatred vanishing forever. (Amichai)

We pray to you because,

as our prophets have taught us:

human suffering anywhere

concerns men and women everywhere.

We call to you, O God,

because Your Image

was abandoned on rainy concrete for

4 and a half hours.

We call to you, O God,

because Your Spirit

was choked out of a father who

called out 11 times’ “I can’t breathe.”

We raise our hands to you,

knowing that the work is ours to do,

Black, white, Jewish, Christian, Muslim,

Hindu, atheist, young, old, gay, straight –

These are your images, battered

By those sworn to protect and serve.

We are all responsible for what happens next.

And so we pray to You,

Source of Life,

raise up our eyes

to see You in each other’s eyes,

to take risks for justice,

to bring through our unified prayer today

more Love and Compassion into the world.

Ignite us to combat the hidden prejudice

which causes police to open fire in fear,

which transforms a child in a hoodie

into a hoodlum, a person into a threat.

We pray today not for calm but for righteousness

to flow like a mighty river, until

peace fills the earth as the waters fill the sea.

Comfort the families of all who grieve.

Strengthen us to work for a world redeemed.

And we say together:


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