Tradition & Innovation

A Selichah for Ourselves and Our Country on Yom Kippur

By Aryeh Cohen
american flag painting

We stand here ashamed, mortified, confronting the shattered dream. We cannot avoid admitting our guilt, our sins, our crimes.

When we stood on the sidelines, without intervening when we saw the evil.

When we sat serenely cocooned, without attending – for we were not directly targeted by the hatred, the oppression.

When we saw our neighbors attacked, bound and caged, crushed and trampled, and we spoke our pain – but did not publicly rail.

Because we trusted our founding institutions, we did not fiercely oppose the man who wanted to dominate and destroy, abuse and hate, distort and lie.

Because we believed in a dream, that has always been a nightmare for our neighbors and family whose skin is darker than our own.

That we procrastinated – delayed expressing our rage, and screaming as if we our very lives depended on it.

That in our silence we were complicit.

We have sinned, O Our Rock, forgive us Our Creator.

We beg you, Mistress of Mercy, seed us with the spirit to do right/kindness, the desire to work for righteousness, the passion to protest injustice, the conviction to build a country, a city, a community founded upon these values – righteousness, truth and justice.

As it says in your Torah: “Zion shall be redeemed with justice; and those who return to her with righteousness.”

And so may it be Your will.

הִנְנוּ עוֹמְדִים בּוֹשִׁים וְנִכְלָמִים בִּפְנֵי חֲלוֹם אֲשֶׁר נֻפַּץ. אֵין מָנוֹס מִלְּהוֹדוֹת בְּאַשְׁמוֹתֵינוּ, בְּחַטְּאוֹתֵינוּ, וּבְפִשְׁעֵנוּ.
עַל אֲשֶׁר עָמַדְנוּ בַּצַּד וְלֹא הִתְעָרַבְנוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר רָאִינוּ אֶת הָעַוְלָה שֶׁנֶּעֶשְׂתָה.
עַל אֲשֶׁר יָשַׁבְנוּ מְכֻנָּסִים בְּתוֹךְ שַׁלְוָתֵינוּ בְּלִי מֵשִׂים כַּאֲשֶׁר הַצָּרָה, הַשִּׂנְאָה, הֶחַמַס לֹא כֻּוְּנָה מַמָּשׁ אֵלֵינוּ.
עַל אֲשֶׁר רָאִינוּ אֶת שְׁכֵנֵנוּ מֻתְקָפִים, מוּבָלִים כְּבוּלִים וּכְלוֹאִים,נִרְמָסִים וְנִדְרָסִים וְהִבַּעְנוּ אֶת צַעֲרֵנוּ בְּלִי לִמְחוֹת בָּרַבִּים.
עַל אֲשֶׁר בָּטַחְנוּ בְּאָשְׁיוֹת הֶחָזוֹן וְחֹסֶן הַמּוֹסָדוֹת, וְלָכֵן לֹא הִתְנַגְנַדְנוּ דַּיּוֹ לְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר רָצָה לִשְׁלֹט וְלַהֲרֹס, לְנַצֵּל וְלִשְׂנֹא, לְהֵשְׁחִית וּלְשַׁקֵּר.
עַל אֲשֶׁר הֶאֱמַנּוּ בַּחֲלוֹם אֲשֶׁר תָּמִיד הָיָה סִיּוּט לִשְׁכֵנֵנוּ וּמִשְׁפַּחְתֵּנוּ אֲשֶׁר צֶבַע עוֹרָם כֵּהֶה מִשֶּׁלָּנוּ.
עַל אֲשֶׁר אִחַרְנוּ לְהַבִּיעַ תַּרְעֹמֶת וְלִזְעֹק זַעֲקוֹת נָפֶשׁ.
עַל אֲשֶׁר הָיִינוּ שֻׁתָּפִים בִּשְׁתִיקָתֵנוּ.
חָטָאנוּ צוּרֵנוּ, סְלַח לָנוּ יוֹצְרֵנוּ.
אָנָּא בַּעֲלַת הָרַחֲמִים, טְעִי בָּנוּ יֵצֶר לַעֲשׂוֹת חֶסֶד,
חֵשֶׁק לִפְעֹל לְמַעַן הַצֶדֶק,
תַּאֲוָה לִמְחוֹת עַל עָוֶל,
רְצוֹן עַז לִבְנוֹת מְדִינָה, עִיר, וּקְהִלָּה עַל יְסוֹד עֶרְכֵי הַחֶסֶד הָאֱמֶת וְהַמִּשְׁפָּט.
כַּכָּתוּב בְּתוֹרָתֵךְ “צִיּוֹן בְּמִשְׁפָּט תִּפָּדֶה וְשָׁבֶיהָ בִּצְדָקָה.”

וְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן.

English rendering by Maeera Schreiber. Republished with permission from Jewschool.

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Found in: Yom Kippur

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