A new prayer for domestic violence victims makes its North American debut

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Pass it on.

When Rabbi Esther Lederman of Temple Micah in Washington, DC  started to describe a new prayer to our congregation the other day, my heart literally skipped a beat.  I knew what was coming.

This year JWI’s Clergy Task Force on Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community took an extra step to raise awareness of domestic violence by creating a new multidenominational Jewish prayer and distributing it for inclusion in High Holiday services across the country. The misheberach is written in Hebrew and English, and calls for complete healing of the body and spirit for victims of abuse.

The prayer is beautiful and our congregation sat in silence and rapt attention as Rabbi Lederman read the meaningful words. With the High Holidays falling just before and during National Domestic Violence Awareness (October), the timing couldn’t be more ideal to read the Misheberach aloud during services – and perhaps use it as a springboard for discussion of the issue. Rabbi Richard Hirsh, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and co-chair of the Clergy Task Force, says that “when rabbis mention something in public, it signals that they are approachable and available to talk about the issue. It may help someone who may be ambivalent to step forward.”

Over the weekend we learned that our congregation was not alone. We know of a number of instances where the prayer – and related discussions – became part of Rosh Hashanah services, including Rabbi Hirsh’s services in Toronto; Temple Ahavat Shalom in Palm Harbor, Fla; and at congregations in Annapolis and Bethesda, Md. Rabbi Marla Hornstein in West Bloomfield, Mich., plans to use it in her Kabbalat Shabbat services throughout October.

Misheberach “sightings” have been rolling in to JWI all morning, and everyone who used or heard it describes it as a powerful and meaningful addition to their holiday experiences.

If the Misheberach was part of your New Year, please tell us about it in the comments! And if you’d like it included in your upcoming Yom Kippur or other service, it’s available on our website: Please help yourselfEncourage your Rabbi to make this part of the upcoming services, I am sure he/she will be happy to hear from you, too!

~ Susan W. Turnbull, Chair of JWI’s Board of Trustees


6 responses to “A new prayer for domestic violence victims makes its North American debut

  1. Thank you Rabbi Lederman and Rabbi Zemel of Temple Micah! You are my heroes!

  2. Is it possible to get this with nikudot?

    • Deborah Rosenbloom

      Hi Hanita, unfortunately it isn’t available with nikudot at this time. I hope you can use it in English. I will share your request with the Clergy Task Force we hope people will use this prayer for many years. Shanah Tovah.

  3. Thank you very much Esther for that beautiful prayer which I will forward to my family and friends and keep the good work.

    Andree Acel

  4. I have been working on a d’rash for Kol Nidre on this topic. We are also considering adding something to the al heyt (work in progress). Thank you so much for posting this beautiful blessing and for taking on this important issue. I especially like that the misheberach includes the community’s responsibiltiy. Yasher koach!

  5. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it, you may be a great author.
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