Last week, I posted a prayer for the New Year which I wrote in 2016. This week, I am posting a prayer I wrote in 2007.

The prayer followed a sermon in which I taught a Midrash I love about our patriarch Jacob who was also known as Yisrael, Israel. The teaching is that Jacob remains alive as long as the people of Israel, who bear his name, remains alive.

This prayer builds on that idea and refers to many teachings regarding our patriarchs and matriarchs. Some explanations of the references in the prayer can be found below the text.

I hope you will find the prayer meaningful as we continue to plan for the New Year which is fast approaching.

This year may we dedicate ourselves to keeping alive the souls of our patriarchs and matriarchs as we endeavor to make the most of our lives and to serve our people and our world.

May we strive to reach greater spiritual heights, inspire our travels with meaning, shake the foundations of our world where necessary and become an inspiration to our children and grandchildren. In this way we keep Abraham alive.[1]

May we continue to believe in a better future no matter how absurd that may seem. May we laugh when the time is right and keep ourselves active and vital as we age. In this way, we keep Sarah alive.[2]

May we be loyal and willing to do what is necessary for the future of our people and our world. May we understand that being a bridge from the past to the future is, in itself, a great honor. In this way, we keep Isaac alive.[3]

May we be courageous in the face of difficulty and resolute in standing firm for our ideals. May we be trusting of family and community and willingly share in the ambitions and priorities of those around us. And, last but not least, may we always care for the animals who mean so much to us. In this way, we keep Rebecca alive.[4]

May we be renaissance people, widening our areas of interest. May we reach for the heavens and wrestle with reality. May we give our name to our people and may we always, always seek ways to reconnect with those from whom we have been separated. In this way, we keep Jacob alive.[5]

May we convey the message that real beauty comes from within. May we take seriously our role as elders and see ourselves as the mothers and fathers of generations to come. In this way, we keep Leah alive.[6]

May we tell our children always that there is a hope for the future. May our tears be dried and may our legacy live on after us. In this way, we keep Rachel alive.[7]

May God bless us as God blessed Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel and Leah. May we invite their spirit into our homes and invite them into our hearts. May we keep our patriarchs and matriarchs – and our people – alive.

Shana Tova. 

[1] God’s initial call to Abraham was: “Lech Lecha” Go forth to the land that I will show you. The tradition teaches that he was the first to believe in one God, an idea which challenged the beliefs of the time. 

[2] According to the Torah, Sarah laughed when she was told she would give birth to a child in her 90s. The name of the child, Isaac, may derive from the word for laughter.

[3] Isaac was the second of the Patriarchs and often viewed as providing the essential link between his father, Abraham and his son, Jacob.

[4] Rebecca wsa considered to be the “purest” of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs and her love of animals was evident in the story of her kindness to the camels whom she watered.

[5] Jacob was a man of many skills and our people bear his name Israel. 

[6] Leah’s sister, Rachel, was considered more beautiful than she according to the Torah but Leah was a loyal wife to Jacob and mother to many children. 

[7] The prophet Jeremiah speaks of Rachel crying for her children as they are led to exile in Babylonia past her grave. The prophet tells her to dry her tears as there is hope for her future and her people would come back to the land and to her. 


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