Why My Synagogue May Change Its Prayer for America
This is the prayer my synagogue reads aloud each Shabbat (Sabbath) morning:
Eternal God, we ask Your continued blessings for our country, the United States of America — a beacon of light, liberty, and justice in a darkened world. Sustain us in times of uncertainty; guard us from calamity; give us the courage to confront evil and the confidence never to yield to fear.
Protect those who guard our safety — on the land, on the seas, and in the air; on the streets maintaining our infrastructure, and on the frontlines of medical care. Enlighten with Your wisdom those whom the people have set in authority: the president, his counselors and advisors, and those at every level who carry out the public’s trust. May understanding and courage, hope and discernment, peace, prosperity, and goodwill reign among all the inhabitants of our land; and may Your goodness and Your message spread its blessings among us and exalt our nation in righteousness and strength. Amen.
As one of the founders of the synagogue, and as one who delivers a sermon each week, I will be petitioning our board of directors to change the wording of this prayer.
Can you guess what change I am suggesting we make?
This is Ineffably Sad
Some readers might guess that I want to delete or modify the part regarding “the president, his counselors and advisors.” Given that many of us view this president as unprecedented in the extent of damage he has done and continues to do to this country, this guess would be understandable. But it would be wrong.
In our synagogue, we pray for all leaders, Democrat and Republican. We prohibit political discussion during our Shabbat services just as it has been prohibited during the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services that I have led for 15 years. The Left’s politicizing of nearly all non-Orthodox Jewish synagogues and most mainstream Protestant and many Catholic churches has perverted much of Jewish and Christian life.
Our congregation consists of people who have left other Los Angeles-area synagogues (and, via Zoom, people who have left synagogues all over the country) because their rabbis abandoned Judaism — and even liberalism — for leftism. Most non-Orthodox rabbis are far more likely to talk about climate change, American racism, gun control and the nonbinary nature of human sexuality than about how to lead a religious life, how to raise committed Jews, the perils of an overly secular society or even support for Israel.
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Leftists do not regard any area of life, from religion to sports, as out of bounds for political talk.
What we will vote on dropping from the prayer for the country are the words in the first sentence that describe America as “a beacon of light, liberty, and justice in a darkened world.”
The part about the world being darkened remains true — the world is probably more darkened now than any time since World War II. But for the first time in American history, the United States cannot be described as “a beacon of light, liberty, and justice.”
If we were to retain that part of the prayer, we would be involved in a deception before the community and before God.
America Has Become a Net Exporter of Toxic Ideas
For the first time in its history, because of the Left’s takeover of nearly every public and large private institution, the United States is now a net exporter of toxic ideas:
- All white people are racist.
- Healthy teenage girls should have their breasts removed if they say they are boys.
- There are more than two sexes.
- Western civilization is no better than any other.
- Men who say they are women can compete in women’s sports.
The list is long and getting longer.
These ideas have spread around the world. Where did they come from? Not from France or Germany, but from America; from our colleges and universities, our medical schools, medical associations and hospitals, our media and from one of our two major political parties.
As regards being “a beacon of liberty,” never has freedom — including the most important freedom of all, the freedom of speech — been at as low a level in America as it is today.
May This Be a Temporary Revision
So, because we hold truth as a value, we will discuss dropping those words from our synagogue’s Prayer for the United States of America.
This is ineffably sad.
This, then, is my prayer: that one day we can reinsert them.
Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His commentary on Deuteronomy, the third volume of The Rational Bible, his five-volume commentary on the first five books of the Bible, was published in October. He is the co-founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.
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