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How does one pray in the wake of this week’s events in Haiti? Or does that really beg the question of how we pray on any given day in the face of equally painful, if less grand, tragedies? I am not sure, and frankly right now, am not sure that I care.
I know that words elude me, but I want to express at least some response to these events in words. Thanks to Rabbi Jason Miller who reminded me of a prayer authored by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth. I share it because it gives voice to at least some of what I am feeling, even if not all about which I am thinking, as I reflect on the suffering in Haiti.


Prayer in Response to Natural Disaster
Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth[1]
Adon ha-olamim, Sovereign of the universe,
We join our prayers to the prayers of others throughout the world, for the victims of the earthquake which this week has brought destruction and disaster to many lives.
Almighty God, we pray You, send healing to the injured, comfort to the bereaved, and news to those who sit and wait. May You be with those who even now are engaged in the work of rescue. May You send Your strength to those who are striving to heal the injured, give shelter to the homeless, and bring food and water to those in need. May You bless the work of their hands, and may they merit to save lives.
Almighty God, we recognise how small we are, and how powerless in the face of nature when its full power is unleashed. Therefore, open our hearts in prayer and our hands in generosity, so that our words may bring comfort and our gifts bring aid. Be with us now and with all humanity as we strive to mend what has been injured and rebuild what has been destroyed.
Ken Yehi Ratzon, ve-nomar Amen.
May it be Your will, and let us say Amen.
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[1] Rabbi Sacks originally wrote this prayer following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. The current wording is slightly modified to respond to the recent earthquake in Haiti.

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