Sunday, September 28, 2014

Al Chet - Confession for the Earth

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen
Adapted from the traditional Jewish High Holiday liturgy and works by Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Rabbi Daniel Nevins (which I found at neohasid.org), and, at the suggestion of Rabbi Judy Weiss, material from the Jewish Climate Action Network of Boston created with the help of Gary Rucinski.

Note: Hyperlinks below are to organizations that work to help the environment in ways that bear some relationship to the selected text. This is a work in progress, and I hope to add more links. If you have suggestions, please email them to rabbikza@verizon.net. 

Al Chet - Confession for the Earth

Eternal God, You created earth and heavens with mercy, and blew the breath of life into animals and humans. We were created amidst a world of wholeness, a world called "very good," pure and beautiful, but now your many works are being erased by us from the book of life.

Not by our righteousness do we plead our prayers before You, Holy One of All, for we have sinned, we have despoiled, we have destroyed.

And so we confess together our collective sins, and ask for forgiveness:
For the sin which we have committed before You intentionally or unintentionally;
And for the sin which we have committed before You inadvertently;
For the sin which we have committed before You openly or secretly,
And for the sin which we have committed before You knowingly or unknowingly;
For the sin which we have committed before You, and before our children and grandchildren, by desecrating the sacred Earth,
And for the sin which we have committed before You of going beyond being fruitful and multiplying to overfilling the planet;
For the sin which we have committed before You by putting comfort above conscience,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by putting convenience above compassion;
For the sin we have committed against You by believing we are doing enough,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by reaping the dividends of unsustainability;
For the sin which we have committed before You through fear of speaking out,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by eating and drinking without concern for Earth and its hungry and thirsty;
For the sin which we have committed before You by saying we don’t have time,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by staying alive beyond the boundaries of our allotted life span:

For all of these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us. 

For the sin which we have committed before You by not pressuring our elected officials,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by gaining wealth through fossil fuels;
For the sin which we have committed before You by denying the impact of our white privilege,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by closing our hearts and eyes to injustice;
For the sin which we have committed before You by filling land and ocean with filth, toxins and garbage,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by extinguishing forever species which You saved from the waters of the flood;
For the sin which we have committed before You by razing forests and trees, rivers and mountains,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by turning the atmosphere into a chastening rod;
For the sin which we have committed before You by making desolate habitats that give life to every living soul,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by a confused heart;
For all of these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us.

For the sin which we have committed before You by thinking separately of US and THEM,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by using more than our share of Earth’s resources;
For the sin which we have committed before You by considering human life more important than other forms of life,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by being deceived by those with power;
For the sin which we have committed before You by not finding the courage to overcome the reality of the lobbies,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by wanting to act only in ways that will serve us economically;
For the sin which we have committed before You by failing to create sufficient local, green jobs,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by trying to convince people rather than drawing them in;
For the sin which we have committed before You by not thinking into the future when we act,
And for the sin which we have committed before You by living in relative safety and not being caring of others;
For all of these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us.  

And yet, we know that we can only achieve forgiveness from You, O G!d of All That Is after we have sought forgiveness from our fellow living beings, and so, in order to achieve atonement, forgiveness, and pardon,

Help us, Holy One, to enter into loving respectful conversation,
Help us to create deep conversations,
And help us to listen to people.
Help us, Merciful One, to become empowered to talk and to connect,
Help us to be creative in how we start the conversation,
And help us to use our sacred texts as a foundation for our conversations.
Help us, Compassionate One, to start where people are and transition to climate change,
Help us to use humor as a vehicle of engaging people,
Help us to start with experience of nature and end with responsibility of saving world. 
  
In order to achieve atonement, forgiveness, and pardon, 
Help us, Holy One, to acknowledge that we are all in this together,
Help us to celebrate the positives happening in the world.
Help us, Source of All, to build coalitions,
Help us to create partnerships where we see other people's needs.
Help us, Eternal One, to organize local solutions,
And help us to recognize that ownership and collective action are important.

Open our eyes to see the majesty of Your creation! Then we will praise you as it is written: "How manifold are Your works, Holy One! You made them all with wisdom; the earth is filled with what you hold."

Please, Source of All, protect all living beings, in the shade of your wings give us refuge. Renew the face of the earth, save the weave and fullness of life. Please, Mysterious One, remove the heart of stone from our flesh, and set within us a heart of flesh, that we may behold the Godly therein. Grant us wisdom and courage to heal and to watch over this garden of life, to make it thrive under the heavens.

Help us to realize that we are the ones we've been waiting for.
Help us to realize that we are the ones we've been waiting for.

Note: This is a work in progress, and I am working to add hyperlinks to sites that suggest what we can do. If you have suggestions, please email them to rabbikza@ verizon.net.

Rabbi Katy Z. Allen is the founder and leader of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope in Wayland, MA, and a staff chaplain at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She is the co-convener of the Jewish Climate Action Network, a member of the Jewcology.org editorial board, a board member of Shomrei Bereishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth, and the co-creator of Gathering in Grief: The Israel / Gaza Conflict.

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