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  • Prayers for 9-11

    Posted on April 27th, 2011 Ruth Abusch-Magder 5 comments

    Liturgy is an essential element for clergy planning memorial tributes, but in looking ahead towards the 10th anniversary of 9-11, several rabbis noted that the complexity and immediacy of the events might not be addressed by the traditional Jewish liturgy. In looking to fill this void I turned to Alden Solovy. A member Temple Beth Emet-The Free Synagogue in Evanston IL, Solovy has been blogging meditations and tefillot with contemporary themes and traditional resonances on his blog To Bend Light. He took up the challenge of creating liturgy for our communal needs at this time and writes in this second in a series on 9-11 of the challenges and possibilities that emerge.  Please let us know if you choose to use any of these prayers or offerings. And as always you are encouraged to send ideas and materials to add to the conversation.

    -Ruth Abusch-Magder


    In the past two years I’ve written more than 150 new t’fillot, meditations and liturgical poems. Some take classic themes and put them in a modern voice (for example, “Israel: A Meditation”) and others take modern themes and give them a classic voice (for example, “In Memory of an Organ Donor”). Others take a new look at specific spiritual triumphs and challenges.

    Alden Solovy

    Writing prayers to commemorate 9-11 raised a variety of questions, among them:

    • Whether or not to use particularly charged words, like hero, victim or terrorist?
    • What voice to use, first person or third person, the voice of the witness or the survivor?
    • Whether or not to make distinctions – among others – between those who were on planes, those who were in targeted buildings, those who were in target zones, first responders, family members and those of us who witnessed from across the nation?
    • How or if to relate to the terrorist in prayer?

    For the most part, these prayers illustrate my answers. Two of these offerings are Yizkor prayers. The intent of creating Yizkor prayers is to provide family and friends with an ongoing liturgical response to their losses. Note that the Yizkor prayer for first responders has an intentionally broader focus than 9-11.

    Here they are, followed by links to several other prayers that may be useful to you in the context of developing a 9-11 commemoration.


    For 9-11 Survivors

    G-d of the survivor,

    G-d of the mourner and the witness,

    Grant solace and peace to those still held by physical, emotional and spiritual distress from the attacks of 9-11. Release them from visions of death and destruction, from guilt or shame, from fear or anger. Bind their wounds with Your steadfast love. Lift them on Your wings of kindness and grace.

    Blessed are those who have found peace.

    Blessed are those without tranquility.

    Blessed are those who speak.

    Blessed are those who stay silent.

    Blessed are those who have healed.

    Blessed are those who suffer.

    Blessed are those who forgive.

    Blessed are those who cannot forgive.


    Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Source of strength for survivors of violence and tragedy in every land and in every age. Blessed are You, Rock of Israel, Source of hope and comfort.


    To the Terrorist

    You who would hold the sky captive,

    The sea prisoner,

    The land in chains…


    You who hide in caves,

    Retreat to the wilderness,

    Disappear behind false names and forged papers…


    You who smuggle guns and arms,

    Hide rockets in cities and bombs in homes,

    Build weapons against the innocent and the bystander…


    You whose designs are destruction,

    Whose plans are fear,

    Whose joy is hate…


    You who harden your hearts

    And wrap yourselves in death…


    What evil has robbed you of your love,

    Your compassion,

    Your goodness,

    Your humanity?

    What lies have invaded your minds

    So that you choose to die in order to kill?


    We who love our lives and liberty

    Stand firm and strong against terror.

    We will defend our nation and our people.

    We will protect our land and our homes.

    And we pray for you to find hope and comfort

    In lives of peace.


    At the Hand of Terror: A 9-11 Yizkor Prayer

    Creator of all,

    Source and shelter,

    Grant a perfect rest under your tabernacle of peace

    To ______________________ (name in Hebrew or your native tongue),

    My [ father / mother / sister / brother / child / wife / dear one/ friend ]

    Who died [ in / during / because of ]

    The 9/11 attacks on the United States.

    Remember the works of his/her hands

    And the message of his/her heart

    Remember all those who were lost in the terror of that day.

    Grant their families peace and comfort for Your name’s sake

    And for the sake of those who perished.

    Bring an end to violence and terror,

    Speedily, in our days.

    May the memory of _____________________ be sanctified with joy and love.

    May his/her soul be bound up in the bond of life,

    A living blessing in our midst.


    Yizkor for First Responders

    G-d of the selfless,

    G-d of the strong and the brave,

    Grant a perfect rest among the souls of the righteous

    To ______________________ (name in Hebrew or your native tongue),

    My [ father / mother / sister / brother / child / wife / dear one/ friend ]

    Who died in service to others [ in / during / because of ]

    _________________________________________________ [name of event such as:

    [the 9/11 attacks on the Unites States, the Mount Carmel forest fire, etc.].

    May his/her  dedication to protecting life serve as a shining lamp of  love

    And the works of his/her  hands bring us all merit in heaven.

    Bless the souls of all who have died to save others,

    Civilians and professionals,

    The trained and the untrained,

    In every age and in every land,

    Men and women who answered the call of honor, duty and service.

    May the memory of _____________________ be sanctified with joy and love.

    May his/her soul be bound up in the bond of life,

    A living blessing in our midst.


    Other prayers that may be useful in developing a 9-11 commemoration are:

    All of these works are © 2011 Alden Solovy and All rights reserved. Please see “Share the Prayer!” for permission instructions.



    5 responses to “Prayers for 9-11”

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