Natural Disasters

A Prayer for Safety After Violent Weather

By: 
Alden Solovy

God of heaven and earth,
Source of All,
The storm has passed.
Earth, sea and sky are quiet.
The tempest moved on.

Thank you for the kinship of neighbors and friends
As we work together to clean up after violent weather.
Bless those who were injured with healing and recovery.
Bless those who lost family or friends with comfort and hope.
Provide food and clothing, warmth and comfort, to all in need.
Thank you for providing safety and shelter
To those who made it out of harm's way.
Thank you for the emergency and rescue workers
Who kept watch and risked their lives for our community.
As we return to our daily lives,
We pray for the victims of any disaster,
Any violence, suffering or despair.

Blessed are You, our Rock and our Shelter.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

A Prayer for Flood-filled Days

By: 
Rabbi Paul J. Kipnes

Eloheinu velohei avoteinu v'imoteinu,
Our God and God of our fathers and mothers,

The flood waters came, wreaking havoc upon our cities, our homes,
our rescue workers, our sense of security,
And we turn to You for comfort and support.
Help us to differentiate between floods of destruction
and down-pouring of Your love and comfort.

We know that waters can destroy.
In a world decimated many times before,
having been submerged in waters
from the Florida hurricanes, the Asian tsunami, and …
each of Biblical proportions,
we remember the destructive abilities of these flood waters.

Recalling now that the world, though filled with Your Glory,
is not equal to Your flawlessness,
we strive desperately, sometimes without success,
to move beyond the impulse to blame You.
Keep us far from apocalyptic thoughts, for we know that You ask us to care for
each other, an awesome responsibility.

We also know that we can seek You in the waters.
We recall Your Loving Hand, guiding us in our infancy:
From a barren rock, You brought forth water to quench our thirst,
In the midst of a journey through the wilderness, You showed Miriam a
myriad of wells which healed our parched throats,
You guided us through Yam Suf, the Red Sea, moving us past destruction
toward new life and new beginnings.
Through Your love, we found our way.

Be with us now, during these deluged days.
Draw us close to those harmed by these waters, hearing their
cries, responding to their needs.
Lead us to support those who will fix the cities,
care for the displaced, who bring healing to those suffering.
Though our attention spans seem so short, may we
be slow to forget those who were in danger.
Please bring a warm wind and hot sun from the heavenly realms
to help dry up the flood waters.

And may we all embrace at least one lesson spoken aloud by so many who -
facing the floods - rushed to pack up their valuables:

That memories of love and of time spent with family and friends
are priceless, holy and sacred.
This can never be taken away.
As we rush to meet the challenge of living in this
imperfect world of ours,
May we slow down enough to cherish those who are truly valuable -
kadosh /holy - to us.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol .
Blessed are You, O God, who differentiates between the truly
Valuable and everything else.

Prayer After the Tornado

By: 
Alden Solovy

G-d beyond my understanding,
The sky has turned violent,
Crushing homes and lives,
Upending dreams,
Toppling the foundations of hope and sustenance.
Crisis and chaos,
Confusion and loss,
A scene of sweeping destruction.

G-d of justice and mercy,
We pray for the people of Oklahoma,
And the victims of any disaster,
Any violence, suffering or despair.
Grant them shelter and solace,
Comfort and consolation,
Blessing and renewal.
May people of righteousness and mercy
Come swiftly to their aid.
Grant them endurance to survive,
Strength to rebuild,
Faith to mourn,
Courage to heal,
And devotion to each other.

G-d of heaven and earth,
Heavenly Guide,
Hand of love and shelter,
Grant the people of Oklahoma,
Your protection,
Your radiance,
And Your peace.

 

Alden Solovy is a liturgist, poet, teacher, editor and writing coach, as well as an award-winning essayist and journalist. He's written for the secular and Jewish Press. Before making aliyah six months ago, Alden was a member of Beth Emet-The Free Synagogue, Evanston, Ill., and a regular participant in worship at BJBE, Deerfield, Ill. His work will appear in the forthcoming CCAR Press book, Mishkan R'fuah: Where Healing Resides.

© 2013 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, visit To Bend light and see " Share the Prayer!"

Postscript: Regular readers may recognize elements of this prayer. I crafted it using pieces of three other prayers: “In Devastation,” “For First Responders” and “After the Storm.” Click this link for other prayers after Acts of G-d.

Closing Songs

Tefilat Haderech

May we be blessed as we go on our way
May we be guided in peace
May we be blessed with health and joy
May this our blessing, amen.

May we be sheltered by wings of peace
May we be kept in safety and in love
May grace and compassion find their
way to every heart
May this be our blessing, amen.

Amen, may this be our blessing, amen.

-Debbie Friedman

 

Beyado afkid ruchi,
B'eit ishan v'a-ira.
V'im ruchi g'viyati,
Adonai li, v'lo ira.

Into Your hands I entrust my spirit,
When I sleep and when I wake;
And with my spirit, my body also;
You are with me; I shall not fear.

Embracing Life

Earth, ourselves,
breathe and awaken,
leaves are stirring,
all things moving,
new day coming,
life renewing.

-Pawnee prayer
from Prayers for Healing, ed. Maggie Oman

 

Blessed art Thou, oh Lord, every day,
Because every day is precious.
Every day is a lifetime mirroring all life itself.
Thank you for the morning when I feel fresh and young
And wake to the beauty all around me.
Thank you for the afternoon when the sun is high
Suspended in triumph above a work-a-day world.
Thank you for the evening when the shadows cast a sheltering
palm above the universe
Permitting it to pause ready for the dark.
Thank you for the night with the ever-present stars
To remind me that darkness is never absolute.
Thank you for the calm that is restorative,
Not a mindless obliteration of reality
Thank you for the sleep that heals and strengthens
And fills my heart with hope for a new tomorrow.

Marcia H., Twelve Steps to Jewish Recovery

 

O God
Give me strength to forget
Evils over and done,
History's fall and fouls,
Yesterday's frozen hope.

And give me strength to keep watch
For fair weather after a stormy day,
Incense of flowers
And quiet waves.

Give me strength to wait and time to hope:
Until the last day
Strength to keep watch and rejoice
As doves are hatched and babes are born
As flowers bud and blossom
And visions break out and grow.
Give me strength,
O God.

Eliezer Bugatin, from On the Doorposts of Your House

Prayer for a Loss

By: 
Maryann Fenster

O God, my need is great as I sink into the deep despair and pain of loss. '
Help me face each hour so that I do not submit to the seemingly endless days and nights of darkness and loneliness.
Remind me that life is a journey and death is a destination
so that I may heal and regain the essence and appreciation
of that which is good and beautiful in life.
Grant me health of body and spirit.
Give my heart courage and make me whole again.
Set my soul free and let me remember the love in the past
so that I can give thanks to you for the memories of happy times we had together.

Praise to you, God, Healer of the sick at heart. Please hear my prayer and comfort me.

Maryann Fenster, from WRJ's Covenant of the Soul

Prayers for Strength and Healing

Be with me, God. I feel so lost. I can't seem to escape the dark cloud
that is hanging over me today. Help me, God. Give me strength
to combat despair and fear. Show me how to put my pain
into perspective. Teach me to have faith in the new day
that is coming. Thank you, God, for today's blessings,
for tomorrow's hope, and for Your abiding love.
Amen.

Teach me always to believe in my power to return to life, to hope, and to You, God,
no matter what pains I have endured, no matter how far I have strayed from You.
Give me the strength to resurrect my weary spirit.
Revive me, God, so I can embrace life once more
in joy, in passion, in peace.
Amen.

When I feel tainted, God, remind me that I am holy.
When I feel weak, teach me that I am strong.
When I am shattered, assure me that I can heal.
When I am weary, renew my spirit.
When I am lost, show me that you are near.
Amen.

May God heal you, body and soul.
May your pain cease,
May your strength increase,
May your fears be released,
May blessings, love and joy surround you.
Amen.

-Rabbi Naomi Levy
Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle and Celebration

 

God, make me brave for life: oh, braver than this.
Let me straighten after pain, as a tree straightens after the rain,
Shining and lovely again.
God, make me brave for life: much braver than this.
As the blown grass lifts, let me rise from sorrow with quiet eyes,
Knowing Thy way is wise.
God, make me brave, life brings such blinding things.
Help me to keep my sight; help me to see aright
That out of doubt comes light.

-Author unknown, from Prayers for Healing, ed. Maggie Oman

 

Healing is both an exercise
and an understanding
And yet not of the will
nor of the intention

It is a wisdom
and a deeper knowledge
of the daily swing
of life and death
in all creation.

There is defeat
to overcome
and acceptance of living
to be established
and always
there must be hope.

Not the hope of healing
but the hope which informs
the coming moment and gives it reason.

The hope which is
each person's breath
the certainty of love
and of loving.

Death may live in the living
And healing rise in the dying
for whom the natural end
is part of the gathering
and the harvest to be expected

To know healing is to know that all life is one.

From the East End Temple's Service of Healing

Biblical Readings on Fire

There was a great and mighty wind,
splitting mountains and shattering rocks by the power of Adonai;
but Adonai was not in the wind.
After the wind, an earthquake;
but Adonai was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake, fire,
but Adonai was not in the fire.
And after the fire, a still, small voice.

(I Kings 19:11-12)

 

Face-to-face, Adonai spoke with you at the mountain from inside the fire.

(Deut. 5:4)

 

But now thus said Adonai—
Who created you, O Jacob, who formed you, O Israel;
Fear not, for I will redeem you;
I have singled you out by name; You are Mine.
When you pass through water, I will be with you;
Through streams, they shall not overwhelm you.
When you walk through fire, you shall not be scorched;
Through flame, it shall not burn you.
For I am Adonai your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

(Isaiah 43:1-3)

A Prayer

By: 
Rabbi Paul Kipnes

Eloheinu velohei avoteinu v'imoteinu,
Our God and God of our fathers and mothers,
As the flames burn, wreaking havoc upon our forests, our homes, our fire fighters,
our sense of security,
We turn to You for comfort and support.
Help us to differentiate between flames of destruction and light that shows us Your way.

We know that flames can destroy.
A people decimated once, twice but more,
Having passed through infernos set by humans filled with hate, we remember the destructive abilities of these flames.
Remembering that humans set those fires, we lay the blame at their feet, not Yours.
Keep us far from apocalyptic thoughts, for we know that You ask us to care for this world,
an awesome responsibility.

We also know that we can seek You in the flames.
We remember Your Loving Hand, guiding us in our infancy:
In a burning bush You spoke to Moses, sending him to lead our people out of slavery,
In a pillar of fire You lead our people each day through the wilderness to the Promised Land,
With black fire on white fire, You wrote the Torah, our guide for living in this world.
Through Your light, we found our way.

Be with us now, these smoke and fire-filled days.
Draw us close to those harmed by these flames, hearing their cry, responding to their needs.
Lead us to support those who fight the fires, who care for the displaced,
who bring healing to those suffering.
Though our attention spans seem so short, may we be slow to forget those who were in danger.
And may we all embrace at least one lesson spoken aloud by so many who - facing the flames - rushed to pack up their valuables:
That memories of love and of time spent with family and friends are priceless, holy and sacred.
This can never be taken away.
As we rush to meet the challenge of living in this imperfect world of ours,
May we slow down enough to cherish those who are truly valuable - kadosh/holy - to us.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol.
Blessed are You, O God, who differentiates between the truly valuable and everything else.

Readings on Fire

By: 
Rabbi Zoë Klein
Take Our Burnt Offerings, Oh God

It is written in Deuteronomy 12:6-7:
There you are to bring your burnt offerings and other sacrifices,
your tithes and contributions,
your votive and freewill offerings,
and the firstlings of your herds and flocks.
Together with your households
you shall feast there before the Lord your God, happy…

Torah has no punctuation.
Time and circumstance punctuate the text.
And this time is apocalyptic sky.
And this circumstance is wildfire.
And so we read verses 6 and 7 differently:
There you are to bring your burnt offerings and other sacrifices,
your tithes and contributions,
your votive and freewill offerings,
and the firstlings of your herds and flocks,
together with your households.
You shall feast there before the Lord your God, happy…

Take our burnt offerings, oh God,
And our other sacrifices.
Our tithes and contributions,
Our sorrow and confusion.
Take our freewill offerings,
And our against-our-will offerings.
Take the firstlings of our flocks,
And the rest of the flock as well,
Take our forests and lizards,
Inchworms and squirrel nests,
Honeybees and pine needles,
Mustard flowers and mossy clearings
Take the mother bird along with her eggs
Not by Flood but by Fire,
Take our burnt offerings
Together with our households.

Dear God, remember Daniel,
Who walked out of the furnace alive.
Dear God, remember Moses,
Who saw the burning bush and survived.
Dear God, remember Israel,
Who stood at the foot of the mountain while it was aflame.
Dear God remember us,
Who beg in your mercy to be saved.

Take our burnt offerings, oh God,
Our heated fury at our loss,
Our searing terror and scorching devastation,
Our smoldering fear and charred possessions,
Our fevered anguish and smoking grief,
Our fuming remorse and explosive laments,

Take our burnt offerings, oh God,
And fan in us a scintilla of gratitude, for family and life,
Take our burnt offerings, oh God,
And kindle in us instead an ember of love.
Take this burnt offering, oh God,
And spark in us the strength and the will to rebuild.
Then we shall feast before the Lord our God, happy.
We shall feast before God and be happy.

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