when the final tekiah sounds: prayer for the end of yom kippur

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when the final tekiah sounds
anyone still sleeping will have to
rise up and join the strategizers
and schemers the marchers and
rabble rousers to chant that
final neilah prayer ki fana yom
there’s no time left it’s time
to storm the gates.

when the final tekiah sounds
we’ll blow away the wasted years
the work undone the dreams denied
the lazy thinking and careless complicity
so that we may clearly see the road
leading to a world we always
knew was possible.

when the final tekiah sounds
we will finally break the insatiable
unquenchable appetites threatening
to consume everything we’ve ever known
our hunger will turn into desire
our hollow emptiness into wide open spaces
rolling on and on without end.

when the final tekiah sounds
the barrier walls and security fences
will come crashing down
no one will be forced to wait in line
no one turned away at the border
no unseen hands opening and closing
the gates on a whim.

so let every shofar
send forth one broken call
quick while the sun is setting
we’ll gather together and march forward
under cover of darkness
in the halls of the most high
we’ll make sure there’s
room for all.

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Ma’ariv Aravim: Blessed is Evening’s Fall

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Blessed is evening’s fall,
the heaven’s transformation,
the ever-changing seasons.

Blessed is the imperceptible movement
of one moment into the next,
notes in a seamless melody
you compose for us
even now.

Blessed is the light that bursts
forth gloriously out of the darkness,
showering us in the warmth of the day
we know must inevitably arrive.

Blessed is the darkness
that swaddles and bathes us
in your dark beauty,
comforting us with the sweet promise
of liberation at long last.

Blessed is evening’s fall.


psalm 92: song after the revolution

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tonight we raise the cup,
tomorrow we’ll breathe deeply
and dwell in a world
without borders, without limit
in space or in time,
a world beyond wealth or scarcity,
a world where there is nothing
for us to do but to be.

they said this day would never come,
yet here we are:
the surging waters have receded,
there is no oppressor, no oppressed,
no power but the one
coursing through every living
breathing satiated soul.

memories of past battles fading
like dry grass in the warm sun,
no more talk of enemies and strategies,
no more illusions, no more dreams, only
this eternal moment of victory
to celebrate and savor the world
as we always knew it could be.

see how the justice we planted in the deep
dark soil now soars impossibly skyward,
rising up like a palm tree,
like a cedar, flourishing forever
ever swaying, ever bending
but never breaking.

so tonight we raise the cup,
tomorrow we’ll breathe deeply
to savor a world recreated,
and when sun sets once again
we continue the struggle.


psalm 90: your so-called fortress

Medieval Akkerman fortress near Odessa in Ukraine

you’ve been my refuge,
or so i’ve been told since
the day i first learned how to sing
those rapturous hymns
to my stronghold, my fortress,
my shield.

you may have noticed
i don’t sing those songs any more
or maybe you haven’t,
maybe the cacophony of all
these desperate hosannas
are just background noise to you –
a faint and constant buzzing
in the halls of your mansions on high.

oh yes, you’ve been my refuge.
or maybe more accurately my escape,
my pretense, my excuse.
looking back i think the moment
my song began to falter
was the moment
i came to question the purpose
of your so-called fortress:

did you build it to keep me safe
or merely complacent?
to teach me your ways
or to keep me in line?
to shelter me from the storm
or protect me from the sorrows
that inevitably lay beyond?


psalm 89: aimless words of love

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i’ve been singing your praises
for so long
i’m not sure if i know
how to stop.
sometimes i’m terrified
to imagine what would happen
if i even paused to take a breath.

sometimes i wonder
is this endless hymn really
just my way of avoiding
the awful truth:
that i’ve been sending
these words of adoration
into a surging swelling
nothingness?

if i choose to sing a new song
will you rage against me;
will you strike me down
like all the enemies
that came before me?

or will it even matter
to you at all?
when i grow short of breath
when my words grow weaker,
will you at least pretend
that these aimless words of love
somehow made a difference
to you?


New For Yom Kippur: Isaiah 57:14-58:14 Reimagined

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Stop for just this moment
and consider:
the roads you are traveling
will not lead you to my kingdom.
You journey so proudly
so blindly
through this barren land
and I can abide it
no longer.

Your false piety
has become unbearable to me.
You look up to the skies,
you say all the right prayers
yet somehow you cannot see
that the world is coming apart
all around you.

You look for me endlessly,
you ask me to show you the way;
how can you be so eager to know me
yet so unwilling to see my face
in the one who is standing
right next to you?

You fast on this holy day of yours
while children go hungry in your own city
and families line up for bags of grain.
You pray for your martyrs,
you recite Yizkor and Kaddish
then sell handguns and Apache helicopters,
and profit from the blood they spill.

You call for inclusion and compassion
while you build a system of racism
and oppression that grows
without end.
You march for peace
but refuse to see the difference
between the hollow peace
of domination and control
and the true peace
of justice for all.

You advocate for human rights
in far off lands
and yet you lock up and shoot down
black and brown bodies
in your own backyard.
You chant from your holy texts:
“do not oppress because
we were once oppressed”
while you occupy another people.
You wield your legacy of victimhood
like a weapon
as you expel and expropriate,
build checkpoints and demolish homes.

You preach of freedom
and democracy
and yet you treat the world
as your personal fiefdom.
you topple governments of nations
that refuse to serve your interests,
prop up tyrannical regimes
to ensure your hegemony.

Your fast today is meaningless to me.
Do you really think this is the fast I desire:
to forgo food for one day
to intone the same prayers
to confess the same sins
year after year?
Do you believe such a fast,
will make a difference?

No, this is the fast I desire,
dismantle your systems of oppression
open wide your prisons,
tear down your separation walls,
destroy your weapons of death
let justice rule in your streets.

Open wide the vaults and
share your abundant wealth so that
all are fed and clothed and sheltered.
Bring in the immigrants,
let the refugees return home
at long last.

These are the sacred sacrifices
I have been asking of you all along.
Do you think you are up to the task?
Will you offer them to me?
Will you let go of your old ways,
your hollow meaningless rituals
and find the courage to worship
with offerings that I truly require?

Are you ready to spread my healing
across this broken bleeding world,
to stop looking forward and behind,
and venture into the dark places
you would never dare to tread,
only to realize that you have been
dwelling there all along?
Do you have the strength to say
to the ones whom you find there:
hineini
here I am, here I am,
here I am.

These sacrifices you offer up to me
cannot possibly be sustained.
Your well will run dry,
the source of your very lives
will be depleted and soon
you will have nothing left to give.

So let these wells dry up,
seek out the springs that give forth
life giving waters without end.
Restore the foundations of my world
Tear down the walls you have built,
Rebuild the homes you have destroyed
Erase the borders that you have drawn.

Open your sidewalks and pathways,
your roads and highways,
clear the way for all
to find their way without fear
and you will discover a place
you never dreamed could
ever possibly exist:

the place where the low is brought high
and the high is brought low:
the kingdom of heaven
that dwells right here
on earth.


For Rosh Hashanah: Today the World is Created

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Hayom harat olam
On this day the world was created.
Baruch she’amar ve’hayah ha’olam
Blessed the one who spoke
and the world became.

So here is our prayer, 
as the world around us
seems to wither and die,
as the nights widen and
days grow cold
and crumbling leaves float
down to the ground:

Blessed is the one
who speaks the words within,
the words that kindle fire
for the cold days ahead,
a pinpoint flame shining
through the darkness,
waiting, just waiting
for the moment that life
will be re-birthed anew.

Blessed is the one dares
to speak words of hope
to a world of hopelessness
words that defy
the fear and dread and despair,
words that whisper to
a bruised and broken soul:
you will rise, you will rise
you will rise.

Blessed is the one with the gall
to speak the truth out loud,
showing us the way to a day
we never dared to believe
would ever arrive,
to a place we thought could only exist
in the world of our dreams.

Blessed is the one who whispers
to unyielding, impenetrable rock,
coaxing out life-giving waters
so that thirsting souls
staggering on edge of death
may drink and live to see
another day.

Blessed is the one whose words
shine light into the dark places
where injustice dwells
lifting the shadows of impunity
so that all may see what must be seen
so that all may do what
they know they must do.

Blessed is the one who speaks
where words are forbidden,
who breaks the silence,
who disturbs the peace,
who speaks of worlds that might be
knowing full well the cost.

Hayom harat olam
On this day the world was created.

And today we commit ourselves
to speak the words
that will lead us
to a world re-born anew.