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Yom Kippur Liturgy

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Once we were strangers in someone else’s house,
Now we are strangers in our own heads – forgive us.
Forgive the beatings, the burlap bags that suffocate heads, the suffocating dread
And forgive us the fig trees uprooted and dead.
The houses torn down, villages no longer seen,
Mothers and children stuffed down the wells of Deir Yassein.
For these and all our transgressions, may all Creation
Forgive us for what we have done to them and to ourselves.
            Amen.
 
Once we were strangers in someone else’s house,
Now we are strangers in our own heads – forgive us.
Forgive us for driving them out and the theft of their homes,
For the colonies that exclude, the occupation enforced by guns.
Forgive us the vanity – the flags and soldiers and Knessets –
That makes us forget the voices of Prophets.
For these and all our transgressions, may all Creation
Forgive us for what we have done to them and to ourselves.
            Amen.
 
Once we were strangers in someone else’s house,
Now we are strangers in our own heads – forgive us.
Forgive us the hatred, the violence, the pain.
Forgive us all the evils we have done while crying “Never Again.”
We have planted, but we pray that no one reaps.
Forgive us for driving Palestinians to do the same.
For these and all our transgressions, may all Creation
Forgive us for what we have done to them and to ourselves.
            Amen.
 
We are ever strangers in someone else’s house,
But we can always be at home in our heads – redeem us.
Bless Palestinians and Israelis to seek only peace.
Take off the masks, the grand ideas, take down the Wall, and uncover the sweet flesh.
Allow us to feel our hearts, to feel compassion, each other’s distress.
Give us the wisdom to free ourselves from war, to allow each other’s contrition.
For these and all our transgressions, may all Creation
Allow us to make amends for what we have done to them and to ourselves.
            Amen.
 
Hilton Obenzinger
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Hilton Obenzinger is the author of "American Palestine: Melville, Twain and the Holy Land Mania" (Princeton), among many other books of criticism, poetry and fiction, and the recipient of the American Book Award. His most recent book is the (more...)
 

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