That Wonderful World- Part I

October 13, 2008

In honor of the Jewish New Year, I believe the following prayer, recited in most synagogues on every Sabbath and every holiday, expresses our forefathers’ concept of God and country.

A Prayer for Our Country

Our God and God of our fathers: We ask Your blessing for our country, for its government, for its leader and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them insights of Your Torah, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst.

Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. Then citizens of all races and creeds will forge a common bond in true brotherhood, to banish all hatred and bigotry, and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions which are our country’s pride and glory.

May this land under Your Providence be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all men in peace and freedom, and helping them to fulfill the vision of Your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall men learn war any more.” And let us say: Amen.

A few things stand out, immediately, from this prayer. These are all profound Judaeo-Christian themes, and to deny them is to deny the whole essence of that Judaeo-Christian heritage. So sadly, another thing becomes glaringly obvious- that the Junior Mr. Bush and his “Neocons” have violated everything that this beautiful prayer asks.

I had not been to a Day of Atonement/ High Holiday service in almost a decade. This one was totally unique- it was simple but elegant- two rabbis, a man and his wife, the wife a cantor as well. What made the service unique? It was the utter sincerity, of the rabbis, of the congregants, of the children. And the sermon.

The sermon dealt with the horrors of the holocaust and, essentially, man’s perversion of a beautiful world where even God might not want to live. No, the Rabbi said, God is not a little man with a white beard listening to people fawn over Him. Rather he is the feelings and manifestations, the omniscient spirit of those ideals in that wonderful prayer. The Rabbi went on to point out and remind us that the “voice” of God is not always to be found in thunder or lightening or other grand forces of Nature, but rather in that famous “still small voice” inside of us and in our conscience.

I left the service a better person, I’m sure, my faith renewed, I’m sure, but still an angry man. In honor of the Rabbis, the congregation and the children, in honor of the “Holy Day,” I will end this chapter with the question: What happened to “that wonderful world” that we inherited eight years ago?

Allen Finkelstein, D.O.