Harvest Prayer

Sukkot, the fall harvest holiday, blends our gratitude for a bountiful harvest, our awareness of the fragility and vulnerability of all life, and our ancient communal memory of leaving Egypt to travel in the desert under God’s protection. This prayer-poem connects those themes to the astounding human rights accomplishments of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and can be used for Sukkot or for Thanksgiving, its American parallel.

 

 

 

 

For the Workers of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Their Allies

 

Torah teaches:

Once a year,

the Israelites marked their journey out of Egypt

by offering up the first fruits of their harvest.

 

They brought up the bounty

and would declare,

“In Egypt, we were afflicted with harsh bondage.

And we cried unto G-d, who heard our call,

who saw our suffering and delivered us.”

As if to say, with every harvest we remember.

As if to say,  today I am a worker, not a slave.

 

Our ancestors held up barley,

told a freedom story,

a bondage-breaking story,

a “Once we were seen as bodies,

barely human,

today we grow food with free hands” story.

 

Today we lift up a just-harvest

from the fields of Immokalee, Florida.

Where workers declare

“We were afflicted.”

Where workers declare

“Victory!”

on their own terms.

Where forced labor and stolen wages were the norm

but where a great cry was heard,

the sound of uprising,

in meeting and marches.

Fields pulsing

with people power.

 

May we rise

to join with the workers

living a freedom story,

a bondage-breaking story.

 

Let us lift up the bounty

Let us answer their call in our time.

And let us bless the Source of Life, the fertile earth, and the workers who grew and harvested this food. Blessed is the cycle of growth and renewal.

 

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, Hamotzi lechem min haaretz.

Blessed are you, Source of Life, who brings forth bread from the earth.