Prayers and readings for peace to add to your Passover seder in 2024

Passover will undeniably feel different this year in a post-Oct. 7 world. Here are some prayers and readings you might incorporate into your seder.
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Normally, during Passover we ask, “how is this night different from all over nights?” This year, in a post-Oct. 7 world, we have to ask, “how is this Passover different from all over Passovers?

With hostages still held captive in Gaza, Israeli soldiers killed or wounded in battle, and so many Palestinians and aid workers dead or suffering in Gaza, Passover will undeniably feel different for Jews around the world.

Here are a few prayers and readings that you might consider incorporating into your seder during these challenging times:

Prayer for the hostages

By Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, David Lau, to be recited at the seder before Vehi Sheamda.

May it be the will of our Father in Heaven who took his nation Israel out of the yoke of Egypt, He should bless and save our brothers and sisters the hostages who are held in iron chains.

Strengthen their souls and faith, protect them from all harm and sickness, have mercy on his sons and daughters who look for his salvation, annul all cruel decrees. With His great kindness, He shall send their redemption and speedily take them from darkness to light and from the abyss of captivity to eternal freedom, and return them safely to their families and homes.

Please, plant brotherhood, peace, and friendship in everyone’s hearts. Remove jealousy and baseless hatred, and spread over us the shelter of Your peace, so that we should soon merit to sing before You a new song.

יהי רצון מלפני אבינו שבשמים אשר הוציא את עמו ישראל מתחת סבלות מצרים הוא יברך וינצר את אחינו ואחיותינו החטופים האסורים בכבלי ברזל, יחזק נפשם ואמונתם, ישמרם מכל נגע ומחלה, יחמל על בניו ובנתיו המצפים לישועתו,יבטל מעליהם כל גזרות אזכריות. בחסדו הגדול יחיש פדותם ויצאו מהרה מאפלה לאורה ומבור השבי לחרות עולם עולם וישובו לשלום אל משפחותיהם ואל בתיהם

אנא, נטע אחוה שלום ורעות בלב כלם,הסר קנאהושנאת חנם ופרס עלינו סכת שלומך ונזכה בקרוב לומר לפניך שירה חדשה

Acheinu (“Our brethren”), a prayer for our fellow Jews facing anguish and captivity

For all our family of the House of Israel, fellow Jews who face anguish and captivity, whether on sea or on land: 

May the Divine have compassion upon them, and bring them from distress to relief, from darkness to light, from subjugation to redemption, now, speedily, soon, and let us say: Amen.

אַחֵינוּ כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל
הַנְּתוּנִים בַּצָּרָה וּבַשִּׁבְיָה
הָעוֹמְדִים בֵּין בַּיָּם וּבֵין בַּיַּבָּשָׁה
הַמָּקוֹם יְרַחֵם עֲלֵיהֶם
וְיוֹצִיאֵם מִצָּרָה לִרְוָחָה
וּמֵאֲפֵלָה לְאוֹרָה
וּמִשִּׁעְבּוּד לִגְאֻלָּה
הָשָׁתָא בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן

Aḥeinu kol beit yisrael, ha-n’tunim b’tzarah u-vashivyah, ha-omdim bein ba-yam u-vein ba-yabashah, ha-makom y’raḥeim aleihem, v’yotzi∙eim mi-tzarah lirvaḥah, u-mei∙afeilah l’orah, u-mi-shibud lig’ullah, hashta ba-agala u-vizman kariv, v’nomar amen.

“A prayer for peace” 

By Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (translated by Rabbi Deborah Silver)

May it be Your will, Holy One, our God, our ancestors’ God, that you erase war and bloodshed from the world and in its place draw down a great and glorious peace so that nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war any more.

Rather, may all the inhabitants of the earth recognize and deeply know this great truth: that we have not come into this world for strife and division nor for hatred and rage, nor provocation and bloodshed.

We have come here only to encounter You, eternally blessed One. And so, we ask your compassion upon us; raise up, by us, what is written:

I shall place peace upon the earth and you shall lie down safe and undisturbed and I shall banish evil beasts from the earth and the sword shall not pass through your land, but let justice come in waves like water and righteousness flow like a river, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Holy One as the waters cover the sea. So may it be. And we say: Amen.

Oseh Shalom

They who make peace in their high places, may they bring peace upon us, and upon all Israel.

עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו
הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ
וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל

Oseh shalom bimromav
Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu
Ve’al kol Yisrael

“Prayer of the mothers”

By Rabbi Tamar Elad Appelbaum and Sheikha Ibtisam Mahamid (translated by Rabbi Amichai Lau Lavi)

God of Life
Who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds
May it be your will to hear the prayer of mothers
For you did not create us to kill each other
Nor to live in fear, anger or hatred in your world
But rather you have created us so we can grant permission to one another to sanctify Your name of Life, your name of Peace in this world.
For these things I weep, my eye, my eye runs down with water
For our children crying at nights,
For parents holding their children with despair and darkness in their hearts For a gate that is closing and who will open it while day has not yet dawned.
And with my tears and prayers which I pray
And with the tears of all women who deeply feel the pain of these difficult days I raise my hands to you please God have mercy on us
Hear our voice that we shall not despair
That we shall see life in each other,
That we shall have mercy for each other,
That we shall have pity on each other,
That we shall hope for each other
And we shall write our lives in the book of Life
For your sake God of Life
Let us choose Life.
For you are Peace, your world is Peace and all that is yours is Peace, And so shall be your will and let us say Amen

AJC’s “A prayer for this different seder”

The following prayer by Rabbi Noam Marans was originally published at AJC.

Mah nishtanah? Why is this seder different from all other seders? Because at this seder, the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust remains a fresh, open wound which continues to bleed. The October 7 massacre in Israel, indelibly seared in our hearts and minds.

Loved ones are sorely missed yet painfully remembered as their seats at the seder table remain empty.

The hostages of diverse faiths and nationalities, men, women, and children, dead or clinging to life, linger in brutal, inhumane captivity.

The innocents, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, are too many victims to bear.

And more, an ominous worldwide resurgence of antisemitism, instilling in Jews a vulnerability few thought they would ever experience in their lifetimes.

Vehi she’amdah: In every generation there are those who seek our destruction, but the Holy One delivers us from their hands.

Anu tefillah, we pray. We pray for the victims of horrific terrorism and their families whose lives have been shattered.

We pray for the hostages and their loved ones, who continue to live through unending horror.

We pray for the innocents who are victim to the war, human beings created in the image of God, the dead, the injured, the hungry, and the displaced.

We pray for the soldiers in harm’s way, the wounded, and the maimed. May they return safely to the warm embrace of their closest ones.

We pray for the purveyors and deliverers of humanitarian aid who endeavor to do what is right and needed.

We pray for the peacemakers. May they bring shalom to all.

We pray for the world to wake up and say: there is no place for antisemitism in our society. Confronting all forms of hate is everyone’s responsibility.

Shirah chadashah: Let us sing to God a new song, a hymn that longs to extol our deliverance from despair to joy, from mourning to celebration, from darkness to light, from enslavement to redemption, from war to peace.

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