Jewish prayers and rituals can help to strengthen our mental well-being and resilience. For those who connect with prayer, it can be a meaningful way toward healing. Prayer can help us channel our thoughts into concrete action, projecting our care, love and hope out into the world. If you do not have a regular prayer practice and are unsure of how to start, we offer some suggestions for prayers to recite and/or steps you can take.
- Find a space where you can calm your mind, either sitting or standing. In the Jewish prayer tradition, a core component of the three daily prayer services is called the Amida, the standing prayer, which can serve as a meaningful model for a prayer stance. You stand with your feet planted on the ground and your legs together and pray for the collective well-being of their community.
- Close your eyes and meditate on your anxieties and hopes, and breathe. Another core component of the Jewish prayer service is the Shema, which we recite with our eyes closed, to create a space where we can concentrate and hear the words of our prayers.
- Once you have reached a state of relative calm, recite whatever prayer you like – or a personal prayer of your own – in whatever language you are most comfortable with.
- Sometimes there are no words that can truly capture the range of emotions we feel, and that is OK. In the Hasidic tradition, there is a concept of silent meditation and unstructured prayer called “Hitbodedut,” which was popularized by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Practiced by many people daily, Hitbodedut is a silent prayer where one pours out their hearts and feelings to God in a private space. Regarding someone who is unable to find the right words, Rebbe Nachman suggested: “Even when one cannot speak at all, or says only a single word—it is also very good!” (Likutei Moharan, Part II 96:1)
In terms of the selection of prayers to recite, we have collected/written the following:
A song of ascents. Out of the depths, I call You, O God. O God, listen to my cry, let Your ears be attentive to my plea for mercy. If You keep account of sins, O God, God, who will survive? Yours is the power to forgive so that You may be held in awe. I look to God; I look to Them, I await Their word. I am more eager for the God than watchmen for the morning, watchmen for the morning. O Israel, wait for God, for with God is steadfast love and great power to redeem. It is They who will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.
A Prayer for the End of Bloodshed
May it be Your will, Adonai our God and God of our ancestors, that You abolish all wars and bloodshed from this world and extend a great and wonderful peace in the world. Nations shall not lift up the sword against one another, neither shall they learn to make war any more. May all the inhabitants of this universe acknowledge the one great truth; that we have not come into this world for friction and dissension, nor enmity and jealousy and vexation and bloodshed. We have come into the world solely that we might know You, eternally blessed One.
And therefore have mercy upon us that through us the written word will become a reality. “And I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down untroubled by anyone; I will give the land respite from vicious beasts and no sword shall cross your land.” (Leviticus 26:6) “But let justice well up like water, righteousness like an unfailing stream.” (Amos.5:24) “For the land shall be filled with devotion to Adonai as water covers the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)
Based on the prayer of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, from Siddur Ha’avodah She’ba’lev, Service of the Heart.
Prayers On Behalf of Soldiers & Those Being Called to Active Service
May the One who blessed our fighters Joshua, David and Judah, Deborah, Yael and Judith, bless (Insert Name Here) who has been called to active service. May it be Your will, Adonai our God, that they be guided safely and protected every enemy and harm. May their path be successful and guard their going out and coming in to life and peace now and forever. And let us say: Amen.
Adapted from the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism’s siddur
Mi Sheberach for Grief
To the One who blessed our ancestors and the One who blesses all beings here on this earth, bless all those who are suffering the grief of someone they loved.
May they find solace in their memory, and may their love find a resting place in their hearts. Bless all those who are struggling with the death of someone with whom they had a difficult relationship. May they find compassion for themselves and renewal of spirit. May they have patience and strength, as grief can come in waves throughout their lives. May they find the courage to share their grief with others, no matter how many years have gone by. While they can be shattered by loss, they can be healed by love from others. Sacred One, help them find ways to open their hearts to love and hope. Bless all those who are grieving, for it is an honor to have lived. Make both life and death a blessing. Amen.
A prayer by the Blue Dove Foundation