Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Friends of the Blog, Faye and Paul Jesser sent this reading attributed to Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver to their mailing list. I wanted to share it with all of you.

A wonderful supplemental reading for the High Holy Days....


Abba Hillel Silver (adapted – The New Mahzor, Prayer Book Press)

I stood with Abraham in his lonely vigil
And read the destiny of my people in the stars.

I was with Isaac when he built the altar
Where his faith and devotion were put to test.

I stood with Jacob when he wrestled through the night
And won a blessing at the break of dawn.

I was with Moses, an alien prince among an alien people.
Unshod, I stood with him before the vision in the wilderness
And from the fire I heard the voice summoning him.

I was at Sinai and entered there the everlasting covenant
Between my people and its God

I suffered and I hungered with them
All the way across the wilderness to the Promised Land

I was with Joshua at Jericho
And with Deborah by the waters of Megiddo.

I stood with the blind Samson in his agony
And I heard the wild cry of his desperate courage
As he pulled the pillars over the Phillistines.

I heard Samuel admonish his people to remain free
And not to reject God by enslaving themselves to a king.

I listened to the harp of David
And I saw him bow before the wrath of Nathan
And before the truth of his accusation.

I heard Solomon in the Temple
On the day he dedicated it as a House of Prayer for all Peoples
And I learned from him of a God whom heaven and the hosts of heaven cannot contain
Whose compassion extends to all
Even to the stranger who comes from afar.

I was with the prophets who came to destroy old worlds
And to build new ones.

I heard them lash out against injustice.
I warmed at their compassion for the weak.

I was with my people by the rivers of Babylon
And I heard their oath
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem.

I entered their makeshift synagogues in Babylon
And learned there that prayer and study can be as beloved to God
As the sacrifices of the priests in the Temple
Or the songs of the Levites.

I sat with the sages and the scribe
Who patiently interpreted the word of God
And slowly formed the Oral Law.

I moved among the mountains of Judea
With the lionhearted sons of Mattathias.

I was with Hillel when he summarized the whole Torah
In the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.

I was with Akiba when he inspired a revolution,
Defied an empire and died a martyr.

I wandered with my people into many lands
Where the cross and the crescent reigned.

I was with them when they drank out of the bitter chalices
Of pain, humiliation, cruelty and hatred.

I saw them stay sane in the midst of madness,
I saw them stay civilized in the midst of brutality,
I saw them lighting candles in the midst of the darkness.

Then I saw the night lift and the dawn break
And into the new world, blessed with liberty and freedom

I saw the radiance of their emancipated minds and hearts.
I saw them enrich every land that gave them opportunity.

I was with them when they landed at Ellis Island
And fell in love with the land that stood for liberty.

Then I saw the night descend again.
I saw them suffer as no people has ever suffered before.
I saw them burned and gassed and tortured.

Then, like the phoenix, I saw them rise again in the old land.
I saw them begin a new life there
Based on the ancient teachings of justice and mercy.

I saw them nurture saplings in the wilderness
And I watched them make the desert bloom.

I was with them in the Six Day War.
I stood by them when their hard-earned State was in danger on Yom Kippur.

I trembled when they trembled.
And I rejoiced when they rejoiced.

I was at the wall. I was in the Sinai
I was on the Golan Heights

Shall I leave them now?
Can I part company with this immortal band whom I love?
They have become too dear and precious to me.

They are bone of my bone,
Flesh of my flesh,
Soul of my people.

They are my people.
Their quest is mine.

They will live within me
and I will live with them.

G'mar tov

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