Sukkot, the fall harvest holiday, blends our gratitude for a bountiful harvest, our awareness of the fragility and vulnerability of all life, and our ancient communal memory of leaving Egypt to travel in the desert under God’s protection. This prayer-poem connects those themes to the astounding human rights accomplishments of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and can be used for Sukkot or for Thanksgiving, its American parallel.
For the Workers of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Their Allies
Once a year,
the Israelites marked their journey out of Egypt
by offering up the first fruits of their harvest.
They brought up the bounty
and would declare,
“In Egypt, we were afflicted with harsh bondage.
And we cried unto G-d, who heard our call,
who saw our suffering and delivered us.”
As if to say, with every harvest we remember.
As if to say, today I am a worker, not a slave.
Our ancestors held up barley,
told a freedom story,
a bondage-breaking story,
a “Once we were seen as bodies,
today we grow food with free hands” story.
Today we lift up a just-harvest
from the fields of Immokalee, Florida.
Where workers declare
“We were afflicted.”
Where workers declare
on their own terms.
Where forced labor and stolen wages were the norm
but where a great cry was heard,
the sound of uprising,
in meeting and marches.
with people power .
May we rise
to join with the workers
living a freedom story,
a bondage-breaking story.
Let us lift up the bounty
Let us answer their call in our time.
And let us bless the Source of Life, the fertile earth, and the workers who grew and harvested this food. Blessed is the cycle of growth and renewal.
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, Hamotzi lechem min haaretz.
Blessed are you, Source of Life, who brings forth bread from the earth.
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