Same election. Different Jews. Very different prayers. Read a selection here.
These days, we’re the people of the tweet. Also, the Trump flag repurposed as a prayer shawl.
Indeed, Jews on both the right and left have responded to the chaos of Election 2020 much as Jews have for millennia. We cried out in prayer — or at least online.
“I pray that I can put the distraction of this election behind me,” wrote Dr. Erica Brown, a scholar on Jewish education, in a Nov. 4 article on eJewish Philantrhopy, where she listed a variety of election day related prayers.
“I pray that millions of lawn signs will find themselves in recycling bins by the end of the week,” read another.
The prayer of Rabbi Shai Held, President, Dean, and Chair in Jewish Thought at Hadar, a nondenominational Jewish learning institute in New York City, evoked the traditional liturgy: “Grant residents of our land a heart of flesh and teach us all as one to love kindness and to pursue justice. Give us the courage to love the migrant, the orphan and the widow, and to protect the poor and downtrodden.”
תן ביושבי ארצינו לב בשר, ונלמד כולנו כאחד לאהב את החסד ולרדף את הצדק; תן בנו את האומץ לאהב את הגר, היתום, והאלמנה, ולהגן על העניים והמדוכאים.
אנא תן בנו את הכח והרצון להתחיל מבראשית.
יהיו לרצון אמרי פינו, הגיון לבנו, ומעשי ידינו לפניך ה’ צורינו וגואלינו אמן אמן.
— Rabbi Shai Held (@HeldShai) November 3, 2020
Other Jews got political and personal in their petitions.
In the Miami area on Tuesday, a Jew draped in a “make America great again” flag modified the Mi Shebeirach, which is generally used to beseech God on behalf of someone the sick, and dedicated it to President Trump.
“May He who blessed our Forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and Aaron and David and Solomon, bless the good name of our president Donald John, son of Fred Trump,” The worshipper chanted in Hebrew. “In this merit, may the Holy One, Blessed be He, protect and deliver him from all trouble and distress, and from all affliction and illness, and may He lengthen the days and years of his presidency.”
He then concluded, in English, “May God also bless Joseph Biden to remain a private citizen for the rest of his life.”
— michelle (@michterris) November 3, 2020
Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, of Kyiv, Ukraine said a similar benediction for the president. He prayed at the grave of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev, a Hasidic master of the 18th century. (Azman was at the center of Trump’s impeachment last year due to his relationship with one of the president’s personal lawyers, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.)
— Heshy (@HeshyTischler) November 3, 2020
Rabbi Danya Rutenberg tweeted a benediction for the U.S. government, authored by Rabbi Louis Ginzburg in the 1920s, that appears in many contemporary prayer books.
Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country – for its government, for its leaders and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority.
— Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (@TheRaDR) November 3, 2020
And Rabbis Rachel Timoner and Stephanie Kolin composed a prayer especially for Election Day that was shared through Avodah, a Jewish social justice group.
“Give the people of this land the courage and the safety to cast their ballots in peace. Protect the volunteers, the poll watchers, the poll workers and the voters,” it said.
Many of us are bracing for the night and days ahead. Prayer is one way to provide grounding in these unsteady moments. Here’s an #ElectionDay prayer from #SpeakTorahToPower speaker Rabbi Rachel Timoner & Rabbi Stephanie Kolin. pic.twitter.com/p1EbyhOy7J
— Avodah (@weareavodah) November 3, 2020
Like Azman, Republicans Overseas Israel found inspiration at a grave. They joined with settler leaders in Hebron for a special service to pray for the president’s reelection at the Cave of the Patriarchs tomb complex on Monday.