As we gather this Yom Kippur, we remember the 12 million people in the Horn of Africa—in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti—who are suffering from acute food shortages and malnutrition. Although drought is the immediate cause of the famine, it is exacerbated by decades of conflict, poor governance and inequality. Let us take a moment to pray for the well-being of the people of the region and for the wisdom and strength to help respond effectively to both the short-term and long-term challenges they face. Avinu Malkeinu, our Parent and our Sovereign,i we stand before you on this day of judgment and implore you to remember, inscribe and seal Your children living in the Horn of Africa in the Book of Life.ii Remove the plague against them; may they not perish from thirst and hunger.iii Out of the depths, hear their criesiv—do not abandon them and do not forsake them, O God of deliverance.v On this day of repentance, may we, the members of this holy congregation, open our ears to the cries of those in need as we hear the wail of the shofar and soften our hearts to others’ suffering as we strike our chests in penitence. As we commit to repentance, prayer and tzedakahvi in order to better our own lives, give us the courage, the compassion and the conviction to use our voices, our power and our resources to save the lives of others. Melech Chafetz BaChayimvii—God who desires life—may we join together to support the people of the Horn of Africa so that they may find justice, peace, security and prosperity in the year to come.viii In this hour when the gates are closing, hear our voices and accept our prayer with mercy and favor, and let us say: Amen.ix i From the Avinu Malkeinu prayer, recited after the repetition of the Amida on Yom Kippur and on other occasions ii From the conclusion of the Amida when recited from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur iii From the Unetaneh Tokef prayer, recited as a part of the repetition of the Mussaf Amida on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur iv Psalm 130:1, recited as a part of the Shacharit service between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur v Psalms 27:9, recited at morning and evening services during the month leading up to the High Holidays vi From the Unetaneh Tokef prayer, recited as a part of the repetition of the Mussaf Amida on Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur vii From the addition to the Amida when recited from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur viii From the concluding Neilah service on Yom Kippur ix From the Slichot service recited in preparation for and during Yom Kippur
Suggested Discussion Questions:
What is the role of prayer in social justice work?
Time Period: Modern (Spinoza through post-WWII)