On Monday, February 6, clergy from across Chicagoland joined together at a Protected by Faith Action to call on Congress to protect DREAMers. This prayer was offered by Rabbi David Wolkenfed of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel.
אֲרַמִּי֙ אֹבֵ֣ד אָבִ֔י
My father was a Syrian refugee. He went down to Egypt with meager numbers and sojourned there; but there he became a great and very populous nation. The Egyptians dealt harshly with us and oppressed us; they even enslaved us. We cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our plea and saw our plight, our misery, and our oppression. The LORD freed us from Egypt by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm and awesome power, and by signs and wonders. (Deut. 26: 5-9).
We stand before you, God, as the children of refugees and the children of slaves.
We have inherited the memory, passed from parent to child, and from generation to generation, that “the degree of justice in a land is measured, not by the rights accorded to the native-born inhabitants, or to the rich, but by what justice is meted out to the completely unprotected stranger.” (R. Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary to Exodus)
Holy Blessed One, assist and encourage us as we ensure that justice washes over and cleanses this land. May it embrace the native born and the immigrant, the poor, and the wealthy. May the unprotected stranger feel your protection, and may he know justice.
Our sages warned us:
מי שפרע מאנשי דור המבול ומאנשי דור הפלגה הוא עתיד ליפרע ממי שאינו עומד בדיבורו
“The One who exacted retribution against the generation of the Deluge… will surely exact retribution against one who does not stand behind his commitments” (Bava Metzia 49a) and, with these words of warning, honesty and integrity were once maintained and reinforced.
Amplify our voices today as we warn our neighbors that our government is reneging on its word to DACA recipients. May our voices and our warning be heard from Chicago to Washington. May those in government who speak in our name stand behind their words and maintain our faith with the undocumented immigrants who came forward and registered their names for a promise of protection.
אֵל רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן, רַחֵם עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל מַעֲשיךָ
“God who is compassionate and gracious, have compassion for us and upon all of your creations.” (Tahanun for Monday morning).
Give us the grit and the persistence and the courage and the strength and the perseverance to treat one another with kindness and mercy. Give us the endurance and audacity to keep on treating all of Your creations with compassion and with kindness. Give us the tenacity to pour mercy and kindness on all of Your creations until the fear that divides us is conquered, until the callous indifference to the suffering of others is smothered, and until each and every one of our neighbors across this land knows they stand under the protective shadow of your mercy.