On Thursday night Oct, 22, I delivered an invocation before the State of the County in the magnificent and historic Chambers of the Board of Legislators. I felt honored to be in that space to offer a prayer on behalf of the Westchester Board of Rabbis. It was particularly special to be joined by two colleagues, Rev. Dr. Verlin D. Williams and Imam Hafiz Amjad Karim. We all spoke to the idea that we are all created equal and in the image of God. That through grace and love we can face this moment together, rising to meet our responsibility to act as God’s stewards on earth.
I read the words we say each Shabbat in The Prayer for Our Country asking God to grant our leaders the ability to see fully the needs of the moment, the courage to face uncertainty, and the stamina to weather the storms of this uncertain time.
Here is the remainder of my invocation:
This weekend Jews around the world will read the story from the Torah of a great flood that destroys the earth. Noah, alone, is chosen to build an ark to save himself, his family, and every species of animal in order to rebuild a better world. God instructs Noach to include in the ark structure something called a tzohar. A commentary explains that this is a window which provides light for those in the ark as well as a way to see beyond the walls of the ark. Others say that it is a precious stone that gives light to each person inside the ark, providing them with hope and courage to sustain them while the storm rages around them.
The tzohar offers Noach and his family light and inner strength, while also reminding them to look outwards to see a world waiting for their help in building a new and better society. Tonight as we gather together to commit to the important work ahead of sustaining our county, may we, through the words of our County Executive, George Latimer, feel that bright light shine towards each and every one of us. And may we remember how to access that inner light so that we can shine it outwards beyond the boundaries of family, race, and religion so that we, together, can face the darkness of the moment with renewed strength and hope in the coming year.
Compassionate one, bless us with the ability to shine the light of justice, equity, and kindness to every individual. We ask that with mercy, You illumine the earth and all who dwell on it with goodness. During these dark and uncertain times we pray that you guide us and our leadership with the wisdom and strength to move together towards brighter days ahead.