During Shabbat services on Saturday, January 15, 2022, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three congregants were taken hostage for nearly twelve hours at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. His fortitude, strength, and bravery led to Rabbi Cytron-Walker and his congregants’ safe escape. During this terrifying incident, thousands of Jews and supporters gathered virtually for a Zoom vigil to send Rabbi Cytron-Walker and those involved prayers and strength. Rabbi Hara Person, Chief Executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, read the following prayer, “Fear of Antisemitism,” written by Rabbi Marc Katz, during the vigil. Many who attended have reached out inquiring about the piece. We share Rabbi Marc Katz’s words here in hopes that they bring you hope and strength in the face of adversity.
“Fear of Antisemitism” appears in the Supplement to L’chol Z’man V’eit: For Sacred Moments, a recently published expansion to the CCAR clergy manual that contains prayers, readings, and rituals for a wide variety of contemporary situations.
“Fear of Antisemitism”
As in so many times throughout history,
our Jewish community is surrounded by uncertainty.
Unsure of what danger, what vitriol, what violence might await us,
in this era of rising antisemitism,
we call upon You, God,
to be our partner:
When we face enmity,
fill our hearts and those of our detractors with love.
When we meet bigotry,
puncture the ignorance surrounding us with truth.
When we see only shortsightedness,
open the eyes of the blind.
When fear overcomes us,
show us the light of courage.
When we feel alone,
find us hands to soothe us.
When we seek to turn inward,
find us partners with whom to stand in solidarity.
We stand in the footsteps of our ancestor Beruriah —
praying not that the wicked will disappear,
but rather that their wickedness will. (BT B’rachot 10a)
Let those inclined to hate
question their intolerance,
break their fanaticism,
and burst open their narrow-mindedness.
Guide our leaders to speak out,
our law enforcement to stand firm,
our judges to rule justly.
Let all those who profess faith
walk with us along this unsteady and rocky path,
and let us, in turn,
walk with them along theirs.
We are a people blessed with perseverance, boldness, and fortitude.
Help us to tap into these virtues.
All darkness will disappear
when we join our light with the lights of others.
May this happen speedily in our day
so that we, along with all humanity,
find our place each under our vine and fig tree
and none of us shall be afraid. (Micah 4:4)
Rabbi Marc Katz serves Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, New Jersey.