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A new Jewish prayer for MLK Day

American synagogues have a new prayer for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Mural of Dr. Martin Luther King's march in Selma, with Dr. Joshua Heschel, a Jewish civil rights activist, pictured below the

(RNS) The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which aims to strengthen ties between Jews and other ethnic and racial groups, authored a new prayer for Shabbat services preceding Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It was distributed nationwide to synagogues representing all major Jewish denomination.

Mural of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Selma march, with civil rights activist Rabbi Joshua Heschel, pictured with white beard and glasses. Image courtesy of Emory University Hillel.

“Heavenly God, who desires us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with You, we thank You 
for inspiring us with the life and example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

“Grant us the wisdom to truly understand that all of humanity is created equally in Your image, so that ‘an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Open our hearts to stand with the oppressed and persecuted around the world, just as Dr. King fought for Jews chained by 
the shackles of the Soviet Union, and spoke out for the legitimacy and security of the State of Israel.”

“We honor the legacy of a Jewish community that ‘prayed with its feet’ as it walked with Dr. King, an African American, in pursuit of civil rights. Help us to feel the reassurance of Your presence as we continue forward in pursuit of civil rights and justice for all humankind. Remind us, that as we struggle against continued manifestations of anti-Semitism, Dr. King, in his struggle against racism 
and bigotry of all kinds, clearly declared his opposition to anti-Semitism ‘because it is immoral and 
self-destructive.’ Indeed, in the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a partner with Dr. King in 
the civil rights movement, ‘while some are guilty all are responsible.’”

“O Lord, help us to realize Dr. King’s dream, expressed by Your prophet Isaiah, that ‘many peoples 
shall go and say: Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of God, and he will teach us of His 
ways, and we will walk in His paths.’ And, as it is then written, ‘The glory of God shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.’ So may Your glory be revealed to us as we come together in 
harmony, celebrating our common humanity. Amen.”


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