RABBI NATHAN FARB

Adonai, our Sovereign, our loving Parent, our Redeemer from all narrow places,
Our Rock, our Restoration, and Source of our hope:
You have led us out of Egypt (Mitzrayim), and the wilderness.
Mitzrayim is the house of bondage, the Narrow Place,
Far from freedom and full of oppression and want.
You have led all of us out of many Narrow Places in our history.
You have led each of us out of many narrow places in memory.
2020 was a narrow place – narrow and long.
It was a wilderness of conflict and distress.

This is a new year.
It is not our New Year, but it is a New Year just the same.

2020 was not a test.
Had You needed a test of our faith, our endurance,
Our inner fortitude and our social fabric,
You could not have devised a better test than this past year.
I do not know if we would have passed, but 2020 was not a test.
It was a tragedy.
A wilderness.

All of us, I believe, were touched by the plague of death
That came upon us like a wrathful deluge.
I could be wrong, but I believe all of us were touched by the death of a loved one:
A cousin, a childhood friend, a grandparent, an in-law, an aunt or uncle,
A parent, a sibling, a partner.
All of us, I believe, were touched by the isolation that separated us from dear ones in the hospital,
Or from dear ones who we could not travel to see.
All of us know someone who was infected, even if they didn’t tell us.
All of us know someone who lost someone, and someone who lost something.
Some lost jobs or income,
Some lost their way.

Police and protestors squared off in a no-win matchup with many deaths and few solutions.
Chanukah celebrations were darkened each day by antisemitic violence or vandalism somewhere in the country.
It didn’t make the news because it was no worse than every other week of the year.
Plagues of fire, flood, earthquake, locust, hornet, toxic dust, crash, explosion, and protest have seemed almost biblical in frequency and intensity.

God of our ancestors, of our mothers and our fathers,
Deliver us as you delivered them.
Let us place the paltry triumphs and many tragedies of 2020 behind us,
Let us seal them in the genizah, bury them in the ground, blot them out.
Let us pray for the dawn of a new day with the words of modeh ani – I am Grateful.
I am grateful for the promised land to which I believe You will lead us.

Place in our hands the power to rebuild all that has crumbled.
Reveal to us a path to health and safety.
Place within us the wisdom to remake our world –
Better, more just, more compassionate, more thoughtful than it was before.
Grant us insight and foresight to make small sacrifices now
To prevent terrible tragedies in the future.
Let us turn over the soil and make this Earth fertile for the success of future generations,
That they will not have to struggle as we have.
If we must be burdened, let that burden carry purpose and meaning.

God, let us walk beside You as partners
In creating a better world and entering a new promised land.
Amen.

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