(Note: this post will be continually updated with additional prayers. Last updated October 24, 2023)
As we are reeling from the shock of the attacks on Israel, some of us are also wrestling with the complexity of our emotions relating to our varied dreams of pathways to peace in the region. No matter what our political leanings are, my hope is that we agree that now is the time for prayer. There are captives, casualties; many are wounded and traumatized, and sadly, the situation is likely to get much worse for both civilians and combatants. Let us pray for them all, and at the same time, let us pray for peace, as remote as that possibility seems right now. Below is a selection of prayers for the State of Israel and the Middle East, for the hostages, and for peace and justice for the Israelis and Palestinians.
May we know peace in our times.
Prayer for Peace in the Middle East
(Kol Haneshamah for Shabbat & Chagim, pp. 421-420)
Rock and Champion of Israel, please bless the State of Israel, first fruit of the flourishing of the fruit of our redemption. Guard it in the abundance of your love. Spread over it the shelter of your peace. Send forth your light and truth to those who lead and judge it, and to those who hold elective office. Establish in them, through your presence, wise counsel, that they might walk in the way of justice, freedom and integrity. Strengthen the hands of those who guard our holy land. Let them inherit salvation and life. And give peace to the land, and perpetual joy to its inhabitants. Appoint for a blessing all our kindred of the house of Israel in all the lands of their dispersion. Plant in their hearts a love of Zion. And for all our people everywhere, may God be with them, and may they have the opportunity to go up to the land. Cause your spirit’s influence to emanate upon all dwellers of our holy land. Remove from their midst hatred and enmity, jealousy and wickedness. Plant in their hearts love and kinship, peace and friendship. And soon fulfill the vision of your prophet Nathan: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Let them no longer learn ways of war.”
And let us say: Amen.
Prayer for Peace in Israel During Wartime
(by Rabbi Ron Aigen)
Rock and Redeemer of the People of Israel, Guardian of the Covenant —
bless and protect the State of Israel and all of her inhabitants.
Guard this good land established with liberty, justice, and peace
as conceived by the Prophets of Israel.
Open the hearts and minds
of all the leaders of the nation, her sons and her daughters,
to guide them in the paths of peace and justice with true strength and wisdom.
Strengthen the hands of those who defend and protect our holy land,
and crown their efforts with success
that they might establish your reign of righteousness,
free from all oppression and fear.
May the work of their hands be established
and the words of Your prophets be fulfilled:
“And they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks:
nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore.”
Prayer for the Middle East
by Rabbi Sheil Peltz Weinberg
Two people, one land, Three faiths, one root, One earth, one mother, One sky, one beginning, one future, one destiny, one broken heart, One God.
We pray to You: Grant us a vision of unity.
May we see the many in the one and the one in the many.
May you, Life of All the Worlds, Source of All Amazing Differences, Help us to see clearly.
Guide us gently and firmly toward each other. Toward Peace.
Prayer for the State of Israel
Siddur Mishkan Tefilah, p. 377
O Heavenly One, Protector and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel which marks the dawning of hope for all who seek peace. Shield it beneath the wings of Your love; spread over it the canopy of Your Peace; send Your light and truth to all who lead and advise, guiding them with Your good counsel. Establish peace in the land and fullness of joy for all who dwell there. Amein.
Prayer for the Land and State of Israel
by David Seidenberg
Our father, our source in heaven and on Earth, Rock of Israel and its redeemer, bless the state of Israel, so that she may become the beginning of the flowering of our redemption.
Shield her with Your embrace of love and spread over her Your sukkah-shelter of peace, and send Your light and Your righteousness to her heads, ministers, advisers, and to the nation that elects them, and to her judges, may they be stalwart to bring Justice, and strengthen the voice of those who support democracy. Align them all with the spirit of justice from You, as it says, Zion through justice will be redeemed and her captives through righteousness (Is. 1:27).
Rescue all of Your land, from the Jordan River to the sea, from the spilling of blood, and all of her inhabitants, under every government, from haters without and hatred within, and grant peace in the land, and secure calm to her defenders, lasting joy to all her inhabitants, and true hope for all her peoples.
And let us say: Amen.
Prayers for the Hostages:
- Acheinu (Prayer for the Captives)
(Music by Abie Rotenberg)
Acheinu kol beit yisrael, ha-n’tunim b’tzarah u-vashivyah,
ha-omdim bein ba-yam u-vein ba-yabashah,
ha-makom y’raḥeim aleihem, v’yotzi∙eim mi-tzarah lirvaḥah,
u-mei∙afeilah l’orah, u-mi-shibud lig’ullah,
hashta ba-agala u-vizman kariv, v’nomar amen.
For all our family of the House of Israel, who face anguish and captivity, whether on sea or on land: May the Divine have compassion upon them, and bring them from distress to relief, from darkness to light, from subjugation to redemption, now, speedily, soon, and let us say: Amen
2. Psalm 142 & Special Mi Shebeirach
בִּהְיוֹתוֹ בַמְּעָרָה תְפִלָּה׃
קוֹלִי אֶל יְהוָה אֶזְעָק,
קוֹלִי אֶל יְהוָה אֶתְחַנָּן׃
אֶשְׁפֹּךְ לְפָנָיו שִׂיחִי,
צָרָתִי לְפָנָיו אַגִּיד׃
בְּהִתְעַטֵּף עָלַי רוּחִי וְאַתָּה יָדַֽעְתָּ נְתִיבָתִי,
בְּאֹֽרַח זוּ אֲהַלֵּךְ טָמְנוּ פַח לִי׃
הַבֵּיט יָמִין וּרְאֵה וְאֵין לִי מַכִּיר,
אָבַד מָנוֹס מִמֶּֽנִּי אֵין דּוֹרֵשׁ לְנַפְשִׁי׃
זָעַקְתִּי אֵלֶֽיךָ יְהוָה אָמַֽרְתִּי אַתָּה מַחְסִי,
חֶלְקִי בְּאֶֽרֶץ הַחַיִּֽים׃
הַקְשִֽׁיבָה אֶל רִנָּתִי כִּי דַלּֽוֹתִי מְאֹד,
הַצִּילֵֽנִי מֵרֹדְפַי כִּי אָמְצוּ מִמֶּֽנִּי׃
הוֹצִֽיאָה מִמַּסְגֵּר נַפְשִׁי לְהוֹדוֹת אֶת שְׁמֶֽךָ,
בִּי יַכְתִּֽרוּ צַדִּיקִים
כִּי תִגְמֹל עָלָי׃
|A prayer by David at a time of enlightenment,|
written when he was hiding in the cave.
My voice calls out to YHVH,
my voice begs my YHVH to listen.
I pour out my words before Hashem
to tell of all my troubles.
When my soul wraps itself around me protectively,
you know my path – on every road I take they lay traps for me.
Look to the right and see – I don’t recognize anyone;
I have lost all avenues of escape, no one is looking for me.
I call out to you, YHVH, I say you are my protector,
my portion is still in the land of the living.
Listen to my prayer for my calamity is boundless;
rescue me from my pursuers who are so much mightier than me.
Take my soul out of bondage so that it can thank your name;
the righteous will crown themselves with me
when you act with benevolence towards me.
Special Mi Shebeirach
|מִי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ|
אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב
יוֹסֵף מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן
הוּא יְבָרֵךְ וְיִשְׁמֹר וְיִנְצֹר אֶת הַשְּׁבוּיִים׃
(שמות של השבויים)
בְּתוךְ שְׁאָר אֲחֵינוּ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל הַנְּתוּנִים בְּצָרָה וּבְשִׁבְיָה.
|The One who blessed our forefathers,|
Avraham, Yitsḥak, and Yaakov,
Yosef, Moshe, and Aharon,
David and Shlomo,
may they bless and safeguard and preserve the captives:
(name of captive(s))
among their brethren in the House of Yisrael in trouble and captivity.
|בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁהַקָּהָל מִתְפַּלֵּל בַּעֲבוּרָם,|
הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יִמָּלֵא רַחֲמִים עֲלֵיהֶם,
וְיוֹצִיאֵם מֵחֹשֶׁךְ וְצַלְמָוֶת,
וִישִׁיבֵם מְהֵרָה לְחֵיק מִשְׁפְּחוֹתֵיהֶם.
|In the merit of the prayers of this holy assemblage who pray for them,|
may the blessed Holy One shower compassion over them,
and deliver them from darkness and strife,
remove their bondage,
deliver them from their afflictions,
and return them speedily to their families.
|”יוֹדוּ לַה׳ חַסְדּוֹ|
וְנִפְלְאוֹתָיו לִבְנֵי אָדָם“ (תהלים קז:לא)
|Let them give thanks to YHVH for his lovingkindness,|
and for his miracles to the children of Adam.
|וִיקֻיַּם בָּהֶם מִקְרָא שֶׁכָּתוּב:|
”וּפְדוּיֵי ה׳ יְשׁוּבוּן
וּבָאוּ צִיּוֹן בְּרִנָּה
וְשִׂמְחַת עוֹלָם עַל רֹאשָׁם שָׂשׂוֹן
וְנָסוּ יָגוֹן וַאֲנָחָה“ (ישעיהו לה:י)
|And establish for them that what is written,|
“And the ransomed of YHVH shall return,
and come with singing unto Tsiyon,
and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
They shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
and let us say, Amen.
Mi shebeirach avoteinu
M’kor hab’racha l’imoteinu
May the source of strength
Who blessed the ones before us
Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing
And let us say Amen
Mi shebeirach imoteinu
M’kor habrachah l’avoteinu
Bless those in need of healing with r’fuah sh’leimah
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit
And let us say Amen
Healing Prayer from Torah
(Numbers 12:13, Yedid Nefesh)
אָנָּא אֵל נָא רְפָא נָא לָהּ
Ana El na refa na la, “God please heal her.”
Link to musical setting by Nava Tehilah:
Prayers for Peace:
Oseh shalom bimromav
Hu Ya’aseh shalom aleinu
Ve’al kol Yisrael, v’al kol yoshvei tevel
Ve’imru, imru, Amen.
“Maker of Peace on high, make peace upon us, on all of Israel and all the inhabitants of Earth, and let us say, Amen.”
See various musical settings of Oseh Shalom below:
Brit (Covenant) – Hosea 2:20:
וְכָרַתִּי לָהֶם בְּרִית בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא עִם־חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וְעִם־עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וְרֶמֶשׂ הָאֲדָמָה וְקֶשֶׁת וְחֶרֶב וּמִלְחָמָה אֶשְׁבּוֹר מִן־הָאָרֶץ וְהִשְׁכַּבְתִּים לָבֶטַח׃
V’charati lahem brit bayom hahu im chayat hasadeh v’im of hashamayim v’remes ha’adamah v’keshet v’cherev u’milchamah eshbor min ha’aretz v’hishkavtim lavetach
“On that day, I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; I will also banish bow, sword, and war from the land. Thus I will let them lie down in safety.”
Rabbi Nachman’s Prayer for Peace
May it be Your will,
Holy One, our God, our ancestors’ God,
that you erase war and bloodshed from the world
and in its place draw down
a great and glorious peace
so that nation shall not lift up sword against nation
neither shall they learn war any more.
Rather, may all the inhabitants of the earth
recognize and deeply know
this great truth:
that we have not come into this world
for strife and division
nor for hatred and rage,
nor provocation and bloodshed.
We have come here only
to encounter You,
eternally blessed One.
we ask your compassion upon us;
raise up, by us, what is written:
I shall place peace upon the earth
and you shall lie down safe and undisturbed
and I shall banish evil beasts from the earth
and the sword shall not pass through your land.
but let justice come in waves like water
and righteousness flow like a river,
for the earth shall be full
of the knowledge of the Holy One
as the waters cover the sea.
So may it be.
And we say:
A Prayer for Compassion (by Trisha Arlin)
A Prayer for this Moment
By Dr. Melila Hellner-Eshed
God of the spirit of all flesh,
Here we are before You, broken spirits, torn by grief;
have mercy on us, mortals created in your Image.
Watch over us in a time of destruction and tragedy, terror, death and panic.
may our compassion be revealed, may the love within us
overwhelm the harsh judgment, vengeance and evil within us.
Behold: fierce, burning pain cries out, seeking revenge, not comfort.
Watch over us, Shekhinah, our strength,
over our scorched spirits, our terrified souls,
over our completely infuriated flesh.
May the Divine Image rise, shining like the dawn,
from our crushed hearts.
May we have faith that we will merit
to witness the goodness of the Holy One,
the goodness of humankind,
in the land of the living.
A Prayer for Israel in this Time of War
By Rabbi Naomi Levy
God, our Strength and Protection, we pray for the State of Israel in this devastating time of war, shock and grief. Our hearts are breaking. We pray for the lives of the civilians and soldiers who have been heartlessly Kidnapped by Hamas. Watch over them, shelter them, bring them home.
We pray for the souls of the innocent victims who were brutally murdered. Send comfort and strength, God, to the grieving. Send healing to the injured, and strength and wisdom to their doctors and nurses. We pray for all our family in Israel in this time of tragedy and crisis.
Watch over Israel, God, spread Your shelter of peace over the land and over all our siblings who live there. Shine Your light upon Israel’s leaders, officers and advisers, that they may overcome divisiveness and act with clarity. Protect those who defend Israel, let them be safe and victorious over those who attacked our people. May they root out terrorists while preserving the lives of innocent civilians in Gaza, and create a pathway toward true and lasting peace. Bring peace, God. Let it rain down from the heavens like a mighty storm. Let it wash away all hatred and bloodshed
Peace, God, please, God.
God of the brokenhearted, God of the living, God of the dead, gather the souls of the victims into Your eternal shelter. Let them find peace in Your presence. Their lives have ended, but their lights can never be extinguished. May they shine on us always and illuminate our way. Amen.