A prayer to mark the National Day of Reflection

23 March 2021 – 10 Nisan 5781
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Shabbat Tzav/Ha-Gadol 5781

El malé rachamim, shochein bam’romim – O God, full of compassion, exalted God – in the stillness of this moment, one year since the first national lockdown, we remember with love those who have been taken from us on account of Covid-19 or from other causes.  We think of those who died alone in hospitals or care homes, of loved ones unable to say farewell, or observe the ceremonies of mourning and grief.  We pay tribute to all those who accompany the dying on their final journey and who care for the sick with compassion and grace.

We give thanks for those who have worked tirelessly to create a vaccination that will bring protection to our lives and the lives of those we love.

And we reflect on the past year: on its privations and privileges.  We have become more aware of food poverty and educational disadvantage, of domestic abuse and racism, of the divisions that exist between us.  But our eyes are also open to the beauty of our world, of the cycle of life and death, of the preciousness of the earth and all that exists on it, in its waters and in its air.

Our communities have provided a refuge and stronghold in uncertain times of fear and tension.  They have connected us with each other and have given us cause for gratitude for the blessings of prayer and music, friendship and laughter, learning and celebration.

As we celebrate the festival Pesach, this evening, may its story of slavery and freedom fill us with courage and hope.  Soon may we emerge from the narrow straits of this lockdown, strengthened by a sense of God’s steadfast love and compassion.   And in time to come, when our children ask us, what did this year mean to you?  Let us answer and say, it is because of this that we must bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted and find a way to heal that which divides us. It is because of this that we must give what we can to others, and with gracious acceptance, be the recipients of the kindness of others.  Keyn yehi ratzon.  Amen.

Rabbi Alexandra Wright, Senior Rabbi of The Liberal Jewish Synagogue

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