Rabbi’s Corner: Memorial Day Shabbat – Watch Over Those Who Defended & Defend Our Nation

May we gain wisdom in our lives,
overflowing like a river with understanding.
Loved, each of us, for the peace we bring to others.
May our deeds exceed our speech,
and may we never lift up our hand
but to conquer fear and doubt and despair.
(Mishkan Tefilah, page 591. CCAR Press, NY, Rabbi Hara Person, editor).

This is one of my favorite prayers from Mishkan Tefilah, our Reform Movement siddur (prayer book). It is a poetic translation of the Aleinu, our concluding aspirational prayer expressing our hopes, dreams, and vision for the future.

This prayer hearkens to a time when we will have accomplished the hard work of bringing peace and justice to our world. We will have joined together in unity and solidarity to end systemic racism, hatred, antisemitism, war and evil. The words of this prayer will be a living reality “loved, each of us, for the peace, we bring to others.”

This Shabbat begins our Memorial Day weekend, the time when we commemorate and remember those who died serving and protecting our great country. While we often focus on themes of freedom and sacrifice on this day, it is important to remain mindful that each of the individuals we remember had their own unique story.

This Memorial Day, may we pause to recall their personal stories of service and sacrifice, to understand what motivated their service, so that we can all seek to better honor their memory in our own lives.

Eloheinu v’Elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu – Our God and God of our ancestors,
Watch over those who defend our nation.
Shield them from harm and guide them in all their pursuits.
Grant their commanders wisdom and discernment
in their time of preparation and on the battlefield.
Should battle erupt may their victory be swift and complete.
May the loss of life for any of your creations be avoided.
Grant healing to those who are wounded.

And may the day come soon, Oh God, when you will:

“Rise up like the sun, O God, over all humanity.
Cause light to go forth the lands between the seas.
and light up the universe with joy of wholeness, of freedom, and of peace.”
(Mishkan Tefilah, page 591. CCAR Press, NY, Rabbi Hara Person, editor).


Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Sharon L. Sobel
Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Sholom

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