Traditional Jewish services are full of lines—sometimes whole paragraphs—about freedom and redemption. When read with an eye towards mass incarceration, many hitherto unremarkable lines jump out at us, clamoring for attention. We offer the following selection from the morning service as an invitation for meditation and contemplation, study and preaching, or song and chanting. We hope these—and others like them— find a use in the synagogue, the classroom, and out on the streets.
From the birkhot hashachar, morning blessings:
Barukh atah Adonai. Eloheinu melekh ha’olam
Sheh asani bat/ben-horin
Sheh asani kol’tzarki
Ha’meichin meh’tza’di gaver
Ha’notein l’ayef koach
We praise you, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, who
made me free
releases the imprisoned
lifts up the bent-over
provides for all my needs
supports a person’s steps
gives strength to the weary
From the paragraph immediately preceding Mi Chamocha:
Exalted and High, Mighty and Awesome, You bring low the proud and lift up the fallen; You free the imprisoned, redeem the humble, and help the poor.
From Psalm 85, Verse 12:
May truth spring up from the ground; may justice look down from heaven.
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