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Prayers in Honor of Passover

April 6, 2011

The following prayers are provided, along with Passover: Classical Reform Perspectives, by the Society for Classical Reform Judaism.

 

In observance of the upcoming festival of Passover, the Society of Classical Reform Judaism offers the following readings, taken from the newly revised Union Prayer Book, Chicago Sinai Edition, as well as other reflections on the celebration of our great Festival of Freedom, as resources for interfaith families to use in their worship and observance of this special holiday.

Classical Reform Judaism affirms that Judaism is a religious faith with broad, inclusive values that can embrace all people. Its worship traditions, including an authentically Jewish liturgy that is primarily in English, offer a particularly accessible experience that intermarried couples and families can fully share together. Its belief that Judaism is primarily a universal spiritual path, rather than an exclusive ethnicity or nationality, can be liberating to interfaith couples. These prayers can be found in the forthcoming new revision of the Union Prayer Book.

Prayer for the First Day of Passover

Eternal God of all the generations, we welcome this festival of freedom with joyful hearts. We have assembled together seeking Your presence. As You redeemed our ancestors from the slavery of Egypt and led them to the land of their inheritance, so have You been our Redeemer and Protector throughout the centuries. You have watched over us and guided us at all times.

We thank You, God, that our lot has fallen in this blessed land, dedicated to liberty and peace. May we be imbued with a deep sense of our duty as free people. When we gather in our homes with our families and friends, may we ever be mindful of those who still dwell in poverty and deprivation, who still eat the bread of affliction. May the good tidings of redemption soon be heard in every land. May those who hunger for freedom and justice be satisfied, and may all people be blessed with the joys of harmony.

We rejoice now in the memory of our deliverance from bondage, and we celebrate the goodness we have known through the ages. For the strength our people has shown in the face of oppressors, we are grateful.

We give thanks to You for the courage that sustained us in times of suffering.

Not once but many times have we been delivered. Time and again we went from bondage to freedom, from darkness to light, from sorrow to joy.

In this season of liberation, we celebrate the freedom to live without fear, the freedom to earn our daily bread, the freedom to speak our mind.

And we celebrate the season that brings new life to the growing world. We rejoice in the first harvest of the soil, the promise of life in every land, the flower and tree reborn.

For now the winter is past, and flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come.

The Eternal One is our Strength and our Song!

We praise You, our God, Giver of freedom, Source of life.

[From page 315 of the new revision of the Union Prayer Book, Chicago Sinai Edition, 2011.]

Prayer for the Seventh Day of Passover

I

Eternal God, at the closing of our festival of freedom, we gather once again to thank You for the blessings which this sacred celebration has bestowed upon us, and for the message that it has brought. Delivered by You from the tyrant's might, our people Israel sang a song of praise to You by the shore of the sea. Many times since that great day have You saved us from the fury of the oppressor and from the floods of destruction. In peril and in need, You have been our Tower of strength.

May You continue to protect us and all humankind from danger and oppression. Wherever people groan under the yoke of servitude, hasten to deliver them. Cleanse every heart of hatred and strife, of greed and lust for power, and fill all humanity with good will and love of justice. Speed the Passover of the future, when tyranny and slavery shall cease, when weapons shall be set aside permanently, and freedom and peace shall reign forever. On that day, all people shall come to know that they are brothers and sisters. With gladness and song, they will proclaim You their God and Redeemer. Amen.

II

This seventh day of Passover is the anniversary of our people's deliverance from the tyrant's wrath. That day, Israel first sang a song of praise to the God of freedom at the shores of the sea. Many times since then have we known oppression and bondage. Each time, we have remembered the message of Passover and taken it to heart. Never have we forgotten the bitterness of slavery; never have we despaired of the hope for liberation.

O God of freedom, purify the hearts of all people. Free us from the destructive impulses of hatred and strife, of greed and the lust for power, and fill us with good will and the love of justice. Let us strive for that great Passover of the future, when sword and spear shall be broken, when freedom and peace shall reign forever. On that day, all shall come to know that we are of one human family, and gladly proclaim You their God and Redeemer.

[From page 315 of the new revision of the Union Prayer Book, Chicago Sinai Edition, 2011.]
Rabbi Howard A. Berman

Rabbi Howard A. Berman is the National Executive Director of the Society for Classical Reform Judaism, and also leads Boston Jewish Spirit, a progressive Reform congregation in Boston, Mass., with a special outreach to interfaith families.

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