Erev Shabbat Message from Rabbi Feldman

Dear Friends,
During our Service on Shabbat morning at TJC, we recite three English Prayers that are important to us. We first recite the Prayer for Country and we do with gratitude for the opportunities and freedoms we have as Jews in this country. We then recite the Prayer for the State of Israel as a sign of our loyalty and support for the Jewish State. After we read these two prayers in our Siddur, I often recite one other prayer that is not in our Siddur for our soldiers - the soldiers of the United States and of the State of Israel. Each week when I recite this prayer, I think about the members of our congregation who serve in the military and their families who are proud of them and who also pray for their safety. I recently asked one member of the military who was here on Shabbat to read the prayer on the bimah and he said he was uncomfortable doing so because it is "bad luck."
One of the touching moments for me is when the member of our congregation who served in the US Army during World War II told me that he appreciates the prayer as do all veterans of the Military. I admit to you, until I heard his comment, I only thought about the soldiers currently serving in our military - I thought about the sacrifices they make and I thought about their courage and strength to do what they do. I also thought about the family members who remain at home but worry about their children and siblings and partners who do this courageous work. I never thought about what it means for someone who served in the past, someone who served during one of the major military conflicts or during some other challenging time, to know that our synagogue and other houses of worship all over the country pray for the soldiers today.
This is on my mind today because today and tomorrow we are observing Veterans Day. It is a day for us to honor those who have served their country proudly and to remember how challenging military service can be. It is a day for us to pray for the health and safety of all of our soldiers and to those who may still feel the scars of their military service. I know that any conversation about the military can easily become political but I am suggesting that instead we keep it to a conversation about honor, respect, safety and security.
In honor of Veterans Day, I want to share with you the prayer that we recite on Shabbat for our soldiers. It is a prayer that I put together based on some other prayers that I have collected from other Rabbis including my mentor, Rabbi Alan Lucas who serves as the Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn Heights, NY. I encourage you to print out a copy of the prayer and recite it on your own over this Shabbat and perhaps to bring it with you to shul so that you can read along as I read the prayer from the bimah.
            May God who blessed our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sara, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, bless and protect the women and men who serve in the armed forces of the United States of America and the men and women who serve in the Israel Defense Forces, for they stand to defend our nations and our ideals on land, at sea and in the air.
            May God frustrate the designs and hopes of our enemies. May the Holy One, Blessed be God, watch over our soldiers and protect them from every accident and every distress that may occur. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our land. Deliver them; crown their efforts with peace. Fulfill the promise conveyed in Scripture: I will bring peace to the land and you shall lie down and no one shall terrify you. Let love and justice flow like a mighty stream. Let peace fill the earth like waters fill the sea.           
And let us say, Amen.
Harold Heft, a member of our congregation, compiled his own Prayer for Soldiers that he read during our service on the High Holidays. With his permission, I am sharing that prayer with you as well. I hope you find it as inspiring as I do.
A Prayer for Soldiers and Their Families
God - Who blessed our ancestors - bless and protect the women and men who serve in our armed forces, and strengthen their hands, for they stand to defend our people and our ideals on land, at sea and in the air.
Insure that those ideals represent a just cause. That even in war, we may keep clearly before us the defense of all human rights, especially the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Frustrate the designs of those enemies who oppose that sacred cause.
Watch over our soldiers and shield them from harm and from pain, calm their fears, assuage their loneliness and homesickness, and sustain their faith in the face of the formidable dangers that they confront on a daily basis.
God, strengthen the families and friends of our soldiers in this time of concern and anxiety. Comfort them and help them cope with their daily challenges in the absence of their loved ones.
Inspire and energize our political and military leaders that they may tirelessly seek peaceful settlements to international disputes.  Encourage their efforts in the hope that they will ultimately diminish reliance on war, destruction, and death, and lay the groundwork for peace.
Charge the hearts of all men and women with the will to pursue true peace and justice, in the hope that violence may be overcome by peace, that weapons of destruction be transformed into tools of justice, and that hate give way to true charity.
And most of all, God, we pray for what all soldiers pray for - their ultimate prayer:
deliver them home safely, speedily, and in good health, to the loving arms of their families and friends - and to the respect, gratitude, and support of their neighbors and communities.
Because of their courage and sacrifice, may we all be privileged to know and savor the blessings of true peace and security.
God, we beseech you - fulfill the promise conveyed in scripture:
"I will bring peace to the land and you shall lie down and no one shall terrify you. Let love and justice flow like a mighty stream. Let peace fill the earth like waters fill the sea."
And let us say, Amen.
[Portions compiled from several sources. Portions written by Harold M Heft.
Edited by Harold M Heft October, 2016, for Yom Kippur 5777.]
On this Shabbat of Veterans Day, I wish all of us along with all soldiers and veterans everywhere, a Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Adam Feldman
Posted: 11/10/2017 10:54:32 AM by | with 0 comments


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