Thursday, February 15, 2018

Opening Prayer For the Colorado State House in the Aftermath of a Tragedy February 15, 2018

Our God and God of all people,
God of the Rich and God of the poor.
God of the teacher and God of the student.
God of the families who wait in horror.
God of the dispatcher who hears screams of terror from under bloodied desks.
God of the first responder who bravely creeps through ravaged hallways. 
God of the doctor who treats the wounded.
God of the rabbi, pastor, imam or priest who seeks words of comfort but comes up empty.
God of the young boy who sees his classmates die in front of him.
God of the weeping, raging, inconsolable mother who screams at the sight of her child’s lifeless body .
God of the shattered communities torn apart by senseless violence.
God of the legislators paralyzed by fear, partisanship, money and undue influence.
God of the Right.
God of the Left.
God who hears our prayers.
God who does not answer.
On this tragic day when we confront the aftermath of the 18th School shooting in our nation on the 46th day of this year, I do not feel like praying.
Our prayers have not stopped the bullets.
Our prayers have changed nothing.
Once again, a disturbed man with easy access to guns has squinted through the sights of a weapon, aimed, squeezed a trigger and taken out his depraved anger, pain and frustration on innocents:  pure souls. Students and teachers. Brothers and sisters. Mothers and fathers- cut down in an instant by the power of hatred and technology.
We are guilty, O God.
We are guilty of inaction.
We are guilty of complacency.
We are guilty of allowing ourselves to be paralyzed by politics.
The blood of our children cries out from the ground.
The blood of police officers cut down in the line of duty flows through our streets.
I do not appeal to You on this terrible morning to change us. We can only do that ourselves.
Our enemies do not come only from far away places.
The monsters we fear live among us.
May those in this room who have the power to to make change find the courage to seek a pathway to sanity and hope.
May we hold ourselves and our leaders accountable.
Only then will our prayers be worthy of an answer.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Praying For Law Enforcement in Difficult Times

Image result for flag at half mast colorado
One of the Divine names that we frequently encounter in Rabbinic and Liturgical writing is Shomer Yisrael  - “Protector of Israel.”  Envisioning God as a protecting shield brings us a sense of comfort as we acknowledge the daily challenges of our lives.  This is an important aspect of embracing both our spirituality and tradition.  But, as we know all too well, we cannot rely exclusively on God’s presence to ensure our safety.  We are fortunate that we live in a Democratic society that has a system of laws along with brave law enforcement personnel who serve and protect us every day – often risking their lives in the process. 
Over the past several weeks, the dangers faced by the men and women of law enforcement in the State of Colorado have come sharply into focus.  Three police officers have died in the line of duty and many others have been wounded.  It is hard not to be moved by the outpouring of grief and support that the families of the dead and wounded have received.  There have been too many flags flying at half-mast over official offices and residences.  It is vitally important that we, as a sacred community, also take the time to reflect and show our support and appreciation for law enforcement agencies and personnel.
This Friday night, at our 6:00 PM Erev Shabbat Service, we will be paying tribute to the men and women who serve in law enforcement.  I have asked Rabbi Steven Kaye – a member of our congregation and a long-time Chaplain on the Denver Police Force – to speak from the pulpit about the holy work that he, his fellow Chaplains and members of our police force perform on a daily basis.  We will offer prayers for their safety and show our solidarity with those who are mourning and those who work on our behalf.

Contributions in memory of Deputy Zack Parrish can be made to the Douglas County Fallen Officer Fund for Deputy Parrish’s family.
Checks should include his name Zack Parrish. fund/

Donations can be made to support Deputy Heath Gumm
at the Colorado Peace Officers Foundation. The direct link is listed below. gumm-donation

Note that the Colorado Police Officers' Foundation was founded in
1997 and is a charitable corporation that operates under the
501 (c)(3) provisions of the federal tax code. This official designation granted by the IRS conveys tax-exempt status to the foundation and specifically allows contributions to be tax deductible.
Your donations qualify for the maximum tax deduction.

Contributions to help Deputy Flick's family should go to
El Paso County Sheriffs Foundation
1980 Dominion Way Ste 200, Colorado Springs, Co 80918

A prayer:
Shomer Yisrael – Protector of Israel.
Shomer kol Adam – Protector of All Humanity.

We ask your blessing and protection upon the brave men and women of law enforcement who risk their lives on a daily basis to enforce the laws of our nation.  We give thanks for the courage of their convictions.  Bless their holy work.  Heal their wounded hearts.  May no more harm come upon them as they perform the often thankless tasks of ensuring our safety.  Guide them as they live out the courage of their convictions and serve and protect us.  Grant them wisdom, perspective and the fortitude to make difficult decisions.  May their families and loved ones find comfort in the knowledge that they are not alone in their prayers.  Help us all as we work together to bring peace to a troubled world.  And let us say:  AMEN