Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Blogging the Exodus: Death Penalty Repeal

Today, in Dover,over 100 people rallied at Legislative Hall for the introduction of Senate Bill 19, a bill to repeal the death penalty in Delaware. I was invited to give the closing benediction. I've been happy to support this effort, given the Reform Movement's position on repeal since 1959, but it was humbling to be in a room with so many who had been fighting longer and harder for repeal than me (never mind the half-dozen or so congregants who couldn't be there who I know have been fighting for this cause for  more than 20 years). So before I prayed us out, I admitted my humility in their presence, and thanked them for their work.

Below you will find the text of my benediction (though I will admit the end was somewhat extemporaneous).

A Midrash—a parable—of the Exodus:
After Israel fled on dry land, and the Egyptians were drowning in the Sea, Israel sang songs of joy and victory. The songs went higher and higher until even the angels joined in, whereupon God Most High interrupted. My children are drowning, and you sing songs of praise?

Therefore we pray: God of Emet v’Tzedek, of Truth and Righteousness, allow us to love all your children, and to cease singing songs of praise over their deaths. Allow us to step away from the Mitzraim, The Narrow Places of vengeance and anger, and toward the wide places of Impartial and fair Justice. Be with the victims of violence; heal their hurt, sustain their faith. Allow them to know peace, for well we know that peace is violated by justice delayed and justice denied. Strengthen our civic leaders as they seek to serve their First State with honor and humility, to seek The Good and The Right, who seek the tools to hold those culpable of crimes accountable, while removing the human and economic toll of state-sanctioned death. Allow all our citizens to live in Liberty and Independence: liberty from violence, independence from unfairness.  Guide us that we may fulfill the words of your prophet Zechariah, to see that justice is done for ALL. May this be our prayer; May this be our mission, as we pray in all Your Names, AMEN. 


  1. Dear Yair,
    Thanks so much for this great peacemaking prayer. Andy Jacob was very impressed with it, and sent me the link to your blog. I would like very much to post this at my interfaith peacemaking blog, InterfaithReflections.com, with additional commentary if you would like. Much thanks for the time and energy you invest in peacemaking locally and globally.
    Rev. Tom Davis, Commissioned Interfaith Peacemaker of New Castle Presbytery