Friday, November 26, 2010

Recite This Prayer for El-Arakib This Weekend, Recite This Prayer for Israel, by Rabbi Arik Ascherman

Please take two small steps this weekend (and in the coming weeks) on behalf of justice and the rededication of Israel to the ideals of her Declaration of Independence. See below the prayer that we are asking you to read in your congregation/place of worship.

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving weekend and Jews around the world prepare for the joyous and thankful holiday of Hanukah next week, there is no cause for joy or thanksgiving in the Negev Bedouin Village of El-Arakib. The entire village, sitting on lands in the possession of the El-Turi tribe for tens of years before the State of Israel, was demolished this week for the 7th time because it is "unrecognized," and in the way of approaching JNF forests being planted on tribal lands. Even though the claims of the El-Turi tribe are now before the court, a village not on the map can not possibly get permits to build legally.

In Parashat Va'Yeshev we read the awful story of how Joseph is sold by his brothers. Perhaps the essence of human rights work is that all humanity are brothers and sisters, and that we must prevent one human being from selling another in any way. When we abandon the weakest and poorest Israelis, leaving them without home or a safety net, we have sold them. When we allow violence against women, we have sold them. We sell out our citizens when we allow corporations to make huge profits from our natural resources such as Israel's undersea natural gas reserves, instead of using those profits for the benefit of our society. When we deny Palestinians the right to water or access to their lands or a roof over their heads, we have sold them into despair and oppression.

Nafal d'dvar b'Yisrael. This week the unrecognized Negev Bedouin village El-Arakib was demolished for the seventh time. My heart cries for them, and we need to reflect on how we have betrayed our fellow Israeli citizens. This is a community that has existed for dozens of years, before the founding of Israel. Their case is in court. The intent appears to preempt the court and to be to wipe out any memory that it existed, as three JNF forests are closing in on in from all sides.

As a partner in "The Recognition Forum" and "Negev Coexistence Forum" working on behalf of the unrecognized villages, we were asked to write the prayer which appears below for use this weekend in synagogues, churches, mosques, and other places of worship in Israel and around the world. If you are a congregational rabbi or lead a congregation of any faith, please include this prayer in your worship this weekend and/or on one of the coming weekends.

If you are a lay person or non-congregational rabbi/spiritual leader, please ask that this prayer be read in your congregation/place of worship. Please notify us at info@rhr.israel.net if you recited this prayer and tell us about the experience, as it is very important to us to know in how many places it was read and what happened. Next week, we in Israel will hold an interfaith prayer at El-Arakib, and it would be great to announce how many congregations around the world remembered El-Arakib in their prayers.

You can also click here to sign a petition on the Jewish National Fund asking them to cease efforts to plant forests on the ruins of Bedouin villages and to include the Bedouin in their plans for developing the Negev.

As we celebrate on Hanukah the rededication of the Temple which once stood in Jerusalem, let us light a candle of justice and rededicate ourselves to the dream ensconced in our Declaration of Independence of an Israel "Based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel " that will "Ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or gender."

B'Vrakha (In Blessing),
Arik
Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman
Rabbis For Human Rights

The English translation follows this prayer in Hebrew.

I will put the background in a separate note.

תפילה למען תושבי/ות אל-עראקיב
לשבת וישב תשע"א

איכה ישבה בדד אל-עראקיב היתה כאלמנה זו הפעם השביעית? ויצא מבת ציון כל הדרה. ייחלנו שמדינתנו "תקיים שויון זכויות חברתי ומדיני גמור לכל אזרחיה, בלי הבדל דת ומין", והנה נכזבה תוחלתנו.

אלוהינו ואלוהי קדמונינו (אבותינו; אבותינו ואמותינו) בקש את הנרדפים/ות, על לא עוול בכפם/ן. עמוד לצד אחינו ואחיותינו, אזרחי/יות המדינה ושותפים/ות לגורלה, שאוהליהם/ן שדדו וכל מיתריהם/ן ניתקו. תחזקנה את ידיהם/ן בעוד חורשי/ות רעה מתכוונים/ות לחרוש בתיהם, לנטוע יערות במקומם, ולהותיר רק את בית העלמין שלהם, עדות לדורות הרבים שחיו במקום. יהי רצון שבקרוב ובימינו נראה יערות רבים בכל הארץ, אבל לא על הריסותיהם של ישובי הבדואים.

שבת היא מלזעוק, אך עוד לא אבדה תקוותנו למדינה שכן "תהא מושתתת על יסודות החירות, הצדק והשלום לאור חזונם של נביאי ישראל". חזק את רוחנו למען לא נחשה, כדי שחזון נביאך יוגשם, "יקרא לך עיר הצדק קריה נאמנה. ציון במשפט תפדה ושביה בצדקה".

ויהי נועם ה' אלוהינו עלינו
ומעשה ידינו כוננה עלינו
ומעשה ידינו כוננהו

מראה מקומות:

איכה ישבה בדד אל-עראקיב היתה כאלמנה זו הפעם השביעית? (מבוסס על איכה א:א)
ויצא מבת ציון כל הדרה (שם א:ו)
תקיים שוויון זכויות חברתי ומדיני גמור לכל אזרחיה בלי הבדל דת, גזע ומין"(מגילת העצמאות)
בקש את הנרדפים/ות (מבוסס על מדרש תנחומא אמור סימן ט)
שאוהליהם/ן שדדו וכל מיתריהם/ן ניתקו (מבוסס על ירמיהו י:כ)
שבת היא מלזעוק (מן התפילה),
אך עוד לא אבדה תקוותנו
"תהא מושתתת על יסודות החירות, הצדק והשלום לאור חזונם של נביאי ישראל.(מגילת העצמאות)
למען לא נחשה (מבוסס על ישעיהו ס"ב:א)
"יקרא לך עיר הצדק קריה נאמנה. ציון במשפט תפדה ושביה בצדקה". (ישעיהו א:כז)
ויהי נועם ה' אלוהינו עלינו
ומעשה ידינו כוננה עלינו
ומעשה ידינו כוננהו
(תהילים, מזמור צ: יז)

A Prayer For the Residents of El-Arakib
Shabbat VaYeshev 5671

How is it that El-Arakib sits alone and desolate, like a widow a seventh time? "The Daughter of Zion has lost her glory." For, while we had dreamed that our state would "Ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or gender," our prayers have not yet been fulfilled.

Our God and God or our ancestors (God of our fathers; God or our fathers and mothers), side with those who are oppressed, although they have done no wrong. Stand with our brothers and sisters, fellow citizens and partners in Israel's destiny, whose tents have been ravaged and all their tent cords broken. Strengthen them even as planners of evil prepare to replace their homes with forests, leaving only their cemetery testifying to the generations that once lived in that place. May it be your will that forests will arise in Israel speedily and in our day, but not upon the ruins of Bedouin communities.

"Shabbat is not a time for lamentation," and "Our hope is not yet lost" for a country that is based on "Freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel." Sustain our determination not to remain silent, so that we may help bring about the vision of Your prophet, "You shall be called 'City of Righteousness, Faithful City.' Zion shall be redeemed through justice, her repentant ones by righteousness."

"May the favor of Adonai, our God, be upon us;
Let the work of our hands prosper
O proper the work of our hands."

Citations:
מראה מקומות: How is it that El-Arakib sits alone and desolate, like a widow a seventh time? (Based on Lamentations 1:1, 'How is it that the city sits alone and desolate')

The Daughter of Zion has lost her glory (Lamentations 1:6)

Ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or gender (Israeli Declaration of Independence)

Side with those who are oppressed (Based on Midrash Tanhuma: Emor 9, ('God sides with the oppressed [the one being pursued]')

Whose tents have been ravaged and all their tent cords broken (Based on Jeremiah 10:20, 'Mytents zare ravaged, all my tent cords are broken')

Shabbat is not a time for lamentation (Prayerbook)

Freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel (Israeli Declaration of Independence)

Not to remain silent (Based on Isaiah 62:1, 'For the sake of Zion I will not be silent')

You shall be called 'City of Righteousness, Faithful City.' Zion shall be redeemed through justice, her repentant ones by righteousness (Isaiah 1:27)

May the favor of Adonai, our God, be upon us;
Let the work of our hands prosper
O prosper the work of our hands (Psalms 90:17)

Click here for background on the Negev Bedouin, the Unrecognized Villages, JNF and El-Arakib

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