Jews traditionally say a lengthy prayer called Birkat Hamazon after each meal. The prayer praises God for providing us with food and for past favors, and prays for the continuation of God’s blessings. In the prayer below, italicized phrases come directly from the original text. Download the PDF at the bottom of this page.
Today as we gather in the American tradition of Thanksgiving, we give thanks to our family and friends, our community, our nation, and our God for our many blessings. Now as we say the Birkat Hamazon, we especially consider the immigrants in our family who brought us to this land, and the labor of the many whose hands brought food to our table for this celebration.
We begin with a blessing:
Barukh atah Adonay, Eloheynu melekh ha'olam, hazan et ha'olam kulo b’tuvo bekheyn bekhesed uv'rakhamim.
Blessed is Adonay our God, Sovereign of the universe, who sustains the entire world with goodness, kindness and mercy.
Adonay, as you allowed the first immigrants to this country to survive their first harsh winter, we pray that new immigrants experiencing their first Thanksgiving today have the opportunity to celebrate in peace and joy. May immigrants be welcomed with respect and hospitality.
Let us also acknowledge the tragic losses of the native people. May Adonay help us to honor those who mourn the loss of their ancestors even as we give thanks today, and help us to remember and guard against the harmful effects of colonization.
Blessed is Adonay, who provides food for all. Each of us was created in God’s image, making it our responsibility to provide food to our neighbor. May Adonay help us to show mercy and lovingkindness to each other as God does for us, and help us find the ingenuity and determination to care for all of our brothers and sisters across the globe.
Blessed is Adonay for the land and its produce. Blessed are the workers who plant and harvest our food, and who process and package it. May Adonay help us to treat workers with dignity and respect, by advocating for their rights to a living wage and benefits that protect their families.
May Adonay help us to remember today, and every day, the labor of all workers who allow us to eat and be satisfied.
May our God tend and nourish us, sustain and maintain us, and speedily grant us relief from all our troubles. May Adonai make us dependent not on the alms or loans of others, but rather on God’s full, open and generous hand, so that we may never be humiliated or put to shame. May Adonai help us to never humiliate or put to shame those in need, and help us to give aid with respect and dignity.
May the Merciful One grant us an honorable livelihood. May the Merciful One grant us the strength to speak out when someone in our community does not treat workers honorably.
May the Merciful One break the yoke of our oppression. May the Merciful One break the yokes of all who are oppressed around the globe, and speedily grant relief to those who are hungry and oppressed.
May the Merciful One send abundant blessing upon this dwelling and the table at which we have eaten.
May the Merciful One bless all who are now oppressed and bring them from darkness into light.
May the One who makes peace in the heavens let peace descend on us all, and let us say: Amen.
May Adonay give strength to our people; may Adonay bless our people with peace; may Adonay bless all people with peace. And let us say: Amen.
Written by Interfaith Worker Justice, included here with permission of the author.