Prayer for the Children of Abraham / Ibrahim

by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

As a mother, as a human being, as a Jew, and as a rabbi, this prayer/poem is the best articulation I can offer of what my heart and soul are feeling right now. I pray for God to heal the hearts of all who suffer: Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and non-Jews, “us” and “them,” combatants on both sides, those who fear on both sides, those who mourn on both sides, those who benefit from the existing systems in place and those who struggle within those systems. Please, God, speedily and soon.

All are welcome to share and to use this prayer in your community if it speaks to you, as long as you preserve its origin/attribution. A PDF file is available for download, if that’s helpful.

This prayer is meant to be prayed in community as a responsive reading.

For every aspiring ballerina huddled
scared in a basement bomb shelter

For every toddler in his mother’s arms
    behind rubble of concrete and rebar

For every child who’s learned to distinguish
“our” bombs from “their” bombs by sound

For everyone wounded, cowering, frightened
    and everyone furious, planning for vengeance

For the ones who are tasked with firing shells
where there are grandmothers and infants

For the ones who fix a rocket’s parabola
    toward children on school playgrounds

For every official who sees shelling Gaza
as a matter of “cutting the grass”

And every official who approves launching projectiles
    from behind preschools or prayer places

For every kid taught to lob a bomb with pride
And every kid sickened by explosions

  For every teenager who considers
    “martyrdom” his best hope for a future:

May the God of compassion and the God of mercy
God of justice and God of forgiveness

God Who shaped creation in Her tender womb
    and nurses us each day with blessing

God Who suffers the anxiety and pain
of each of His unique children

God Who yearns for us to take up
    the work of perfecting creation

God Who is reflected in those who fight
and in those who bandage the bleeding —

May our Father, Mother, Beloved, Creator
    cradle every hurting heart in caring hands.

Soon may we hear in the hills of Judah
and the streets of Jerusalem

in the olive groves of the West Bank
    and the apartment blocks of Gaza City

in the kibbutz fields of the Negev
and the neighborhoods of Nablus

the voice of fighters who have traded weapons
    for books and ploughs and bread ovens

the voice of children on swings and on slides
singing nonsense songs, unafraid

the voice of reconciliation and new beginnings
    in our day, speedily and soon.

And let us say:



Rabbi Rachel Barenblat was ordained by ALEPH in 2011. Author of 70 Faces (Phoenicia, 2011), a collection of Torah poems, she serves Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, MA.

Originally posted at Velveteen Rabbi

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email
Guest Blogger

About Guest Blogger accepts submissions for consideration. Send your posts to Please include biographical information, including your affiliation with any Reform congregation or institution.

4 Responses to “Prayer for the Children of Abraham / Ibrahim”

  1. avatar

    Thanks for the repost, folks! Happy Thanksgiving to all.

    • avatar

      This is really, truly gorgeous, Rabbi Barenblat. I think that writing artful, meaningful, *prayable* prayers in the vernacular is a skill that should be cultivated more in the Reform Rabbinate. It should be revived as an art. I like the alternation of gender pronouns rather than tortured attempts to avoid them by saying God, God, God eighteen thousand times. Thank you so much for writing this and posting this.

      Also, happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  2. avatar

    Thank you for the kind words, Jordan! I’m so glad this speaks to you, and glad that it’s “prayable” — that’s one of the biggest challenges for liturgists, crafting something which is not only beautiful on the page but prayable aloud.

  3. avatar

    As Jews, we need to know how to distinguish evil from good. It is sad that this prayer fails to distinguish between Hamas and Israel. Hamas’s goal, stated in its charter, and reiterated by its leaders in word and deed, is to murder every Jew. Hamas and its allies (Islamic Jihad, etc.) deliberately target innocent Jewish men, women and children, and use their own people as human shields. Hamas and its Arab allies are to blame for every single casualty in both Gaza and Israel.

    Israel’s brave soldiers are simply protecting innocent Israeli civilians from Hamas’s constant rocket attacks and from Hamas’s planned devastating terror tunnel attacks. Israel’s soldiers do everything humanly possible to avoid civilian casualties to the enemy.

    Pray that one day Hamas and Fatah will stop trying to murder Jews and destroy Israel. For on that day, we will have peace.

Leave a Reply