By, Rabbi David Katz of Temple Beth El of Williamsburg, Virginia —


Ribbono shel Olam – Master of the Universe:

On this most solemn of occasions, we have opened our hearts, minds, and souls to you.
As we have remembered the six million, the eleven million, the indifference, and the evil;
As we have honored the heroes, the martyrs, the survivors, and the victims;
We ask you to soothe our souls, to amplify our memories, to strengthen our resolve, and to hear our prayers.

We ask for your presence in our midst; for healing, light, and love, to soothe and ease our pain, as we commemorate the horrors that were committed not long ago. Please, oh Holy One, be gentle with our souls.

We ask that you help us to forever remember the stories we’ve heard and continue to hear. As tales of the atrocities are shared, as we re-encounter the unthinkable, we ask that these memories be strengthened and never fade, in the hope that those who remember the mistakes of the past will not repeat them. Please, oh Holy One, amplify our ability to remember.

We ask that you strengthen our will, that you help us to ensure that the world does not again see such monstrosities. We say “Never again,” and we dedicate ourselves to these principles: to the idea that justice does not allow persecution, that genocide shall not be repeated, and that vigilance is the responsibility of freedom, at all costs. Please, oh Holy One, make manifest our resolve that these horrors remain but memories.

We ask that you answer our prayers. We pray that the call of evil falls on deaf ears, that those who fight for freedom and justice always prevail, that those who need protection do not become victims. We pray that the lessons we learn from this darkest hour allow all mankind to better itself and to truly and nobly embody the idea that we are each made in Your image.

We pray for the souls of the millions and millions of victims of this brutality; we pray that we honor their lives and their memories by observing this day, and by doing everything in our power and beyond to make sure that no such shadow again darkens our world.

Above all, we pray for shalom – for wholeness and peace – to be in our midst, now and forever. Please, oh Holy One, answer our prayers, and bring us a world devoid of hatred – a world filled instead, with peace.

Ken yehi ratzon – may this be God’s will. And may we all say together, “Amen.”