A Prayer on the 40th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur War

A Prayer on the 40th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur War
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Yom Kippur (1973) War memorial 

on Mt. Hermon


Dear God,
Forty years ago, on this Day of Awe,
2,569 of our children raced in every direction
to protect their families, our family, our home.

We and these children, alike in form and size,
had mistakenly believed we had emerged, finally,
from the shadow of collective pain,
finally strong enough to refill our cisterns,
forgiven by You for all the sins of all people for all time.

We, ancient and young, were as dreamers,
alike in dreams and frailty,
thinking we had finally emerged
pure from the fire.

We were wrong, Adonai.
And our children died.
2,569 of our precious children died.

It is these fallen children, Dear God,
we remember today,
bitter tears flowing down our faces.

It is their ineffable names we today prolong,
stretching their sacrifice
to reach Your Heart and our own.

Years turn history into story:
We misremember children in toy tanks
on the Suez and in the Golan, facing hordes.
Grasshoppers against ferocious giants.
But our dead children's blood,
sprinkled on an earthly altar,
demand more than this.


Their blood screams questions from that earth,
amplified through years of ongoing
insult, cruelty, quarrel, and transgression, 
mockery, betrayal, and violence,
from without and from within.

What do our fallen children teach us?
When will we ever learn?


History and pain filled our souls
and so we were caught off-guard,
ignoring timid offers of peace.

Recent victory and arrogance filled our hearts
and so we were caught off-guard,
ignoring signs of war.

Forty year later,
our family is still unsure.
Our home is still vulnerable.

We are Your children,
and you are our Parent,
and we need You.
Please.
History has made us afraid,
even as we now struggle with the burden of power.
We are still too full of mistrust
for each other and for every Other.
Help us remember that true strength is restraint.

Help us learn, Adonai.
Help us to not miss offers of peace
as we remain ever-vigilant for signs of war.

Help us channel our People's all-too evident mortality
into life-affirming decisions 
for all Your scarred children - every one.

May the One who brings Peace in the Heavens help us make Peace on Earth.

Amen.

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