Juneteenth flag, via Wikimedia Commons.

A Jewish Prayer for Juneteenth

Juneteenth is an American holiday celebrating the end of slavery. This prayer reflects on the core story of the Jewish people — the Exodus from Egypt — which impels us to fight slavery everywhere. It celebrates the milestone of emancipation of Black American slaves, even as it acknowledges that there is much work still to do in pursing the American ideal and promise of justice and equality.


Our God:

Compassionate redeemer,

Emancipator,

Liberator

Of the oppressed,

Downtrodden

And enslaved.


You heard our ancestors’ cries as slaves in Egypt,

Freed us from harsh labors with an outstretched arm,

Delivered us from bondage,

Took us to be your people,

And brought us to our Promised Land.


You heard the cries of Black slaves in this country.

Freed them, officially, on this day with an outstretched arm.

May you continue to:

Deliver us from the bondage of injustice;

Take us to be your people, treated by all with love and equity,

And bring us to a moment when this Land fulfills its Promises.


Ever-listening, attentive One:

Hear us now. 

The journey has been long,

The steps arduous and ongoing.


But we celebrate freedom this day:

with love,

memory,

honor,

resolve to be a force for positive change

and fervent hope for freedoms still yet to be realized.


As you have shown us compassion, help us to be compassionate.

As you have liberated us, help us stand up against injustice everywhere.

As you have delivered us, help us fight for freedom for all still enslaved.

Remember us, hear us, and be with us always.


And let us say, Amen.

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