Rabbi Rick Sherwin was invited to share a prayer in observance of the Orlando Police Department’s Day of Prayer last month. We share this prayer* here, now, as its message is one of inspiration and challenge for all us after Election Day and looking forward.
By Rabbi Rick Sherwin
Eternal God, Gracious Giver of Knowledge:
אתה חונן לאדם דעת ומלמד לאנוש בינה. חננו מאתך דעה בינה והשכל.
You have graciously imparted Your gift of wisdom to humanity
Inspiring us as individuals to use our God-given ability
To make decisions that enhance the moral fiber of our being.
You have given us the ability to learn, to discern, to apply insight
As we look at the world in which we live
And apply the timeless values of the Spirit.
Each of us is created as a reflection of the Divine Image
Inspiring each of us to look into the mirror of our souls
And see how we might apply Your gifts of mind and spirit
To uplift humanity, to grant dignity to each other,
To live what we preach, to love as we teach,
And to respect the integrity of those around us.
You created us to see the world
Not as either-or but as both-and,
Not black or white, but both black and white,
Not police or peaceful protesters, but both police and protesters,
Not them or us, but we together
Working together for cooperation and peace.
You have mandated us to blur the either-or distinctions
Not “or” but “and”
Red and blue
Liberal and conservative
Capitalism and socialism
Those who take the lead and those who serve behind-the-scenes.
Universal Creator, guide us to resolve differences
Not by choosing who wins and who loses
But by creating a path to healthy resolution for all
So that everyone wins
Not as a response to political loyalty or religious piety
But as a matter of human dignity and judicial responsibility
We respect the still small Voice of Conscience
The thin voice we hear in the silence of our souls
So that others will understand the inclusive plea
To respect others regardless of color or ethnic origin
So that all will be protected under the Constitution’s umbrella.
Empathizing God, help us to remember
That Adam was not white or black or yellow or brown
That Noah was not Jewish or Christian or Muslim
That Moses embraced immigrants joining the People Israel
That Jesus included all his followers poor and rich
That Muhammad sought the path to peace.
Help us to remember that all are created in Your Image
All are to be included
Regardless of religion (or lack thereof)
Regardless of ethnic origin
Regardless of sexual identification
Regardless of physical abilities and mental capabilities
We look forward to the day when headlines describe
Police who march hand in hand with those who speak out
When politicians will see the whole picture instead of merely their own
When policy will project beyond self-interest to the well-being of all
When legislation will not push down but promote
We pray for the welfare of all equally
With support for the law
Without unnecessary force
With respect for those who protect
With thanks to those who are first to respond.
Giver of Wisdom, let us remember
That we have two ears and one mouth
So that we may listen twice as much as we speak
To hear the plea of those in pain
To understand the need to protect each other
Physically and psychologically, materially and spiritually.
Gracious Giver of Wisdom, let us hear the Divine Demand
To listen to each other, to protect each other,
Those with whom we agree and those who disagree
To see the inclusive “and” in place of the exclusive “or”
To see through the eyes of the other
With respect, ensuring dignity, projecting empathy.
Embracing God, You revealed to Your prophet Moses
Thirteen qualities of character that uphold Godly living:
Including compassion, patience, forgiveness, and slowness to anger.
May our votes always elect leadership
That makes Godly living, dignity and integrity
The priority that will make tomorrow brighter than today
May the day come when the Spirit of Godly living shall embrace the earth.
On that day, we will come together to reflect the Oneness of God,
Regardless of the path we choose, to push away darkness and pursue light.
*Edited for length and context, with permission of the author
Rabbi Rick Sherwin, a graduate of UCLA, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and currently lives and serves in Central Florida. Rabbi Rick’s passion is filling spiritual services and interfaith educational programs with creativity, relevance, dialogue, and humor.