Rabbi Leads Prayer Service in Christian Church to Commemorate Muslim Victims

WASHINGTON – Named for a close personal friend of President Abraham Lincoln and having served as a place of sanctuary and prayer for those who live and work within the shadow of the Capitol, the Methodist Simpson Memorial Chapel was the site of an interfaith prayer service Wednesday led by a rabbi for the predominantly Muslim victims of the Rabaa Square Massacre.

On August 14, 2013, Egyptian security forces used excessive military force in raids that killed nearly 1,000 peaceful protestors at al-Nahda Square and Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo, Egypt. These acts of violence became the internationally recognized start to a repressive crackdown on human rights and civil liberties in Egypt.

In addition to those killed in the raids, several thousand more were injured.

Human Rights Watch called the raid "one of the world's largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history."

In his benediction, entitled, “For the Sins We Have Committed,” Rabbi Kenneth Cohen prayed,

For the sin we have committed before You by xenophobia.

And the sin we have committed before You by theological rationalizations.

For the sin we have committed before You by sophistry.

And for the sin we have committed before You by caring only for our own people.

For the sin we have committed before You by putting politics before people.

And for the sin we have committed before You by supporting bad causes.

For all these, God of Forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.

Hosted by the Rabaa Story Foundation, the prayer service was held to commemorate the lives of the nearly 1000 victims. The Rabaa Story Foundation was founded by eyewitnesses who saw their brothers, sisters, friends, and beloved ones killed in front of them by government forces.

In closing, Rabbi Cohen intoned,

For the sin we have committed before You by thinking might makes right.

And for the sin we have committed before You by presuming that the weak are always virtuous.

For the sin that we have committed before You by refusing to be accountable.

And for the sin we have committed before you by not holding others accountable.

For the sin that we have committed before You by only following orders.

And for the sin that we have committed before You by not issuing orders.

For the sin that we have committed before You by forgetting joy.

And for the sin that we have committed before You by not choosing life.

For all these, God of Forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.