Prayers and readings for Ukraine to add to your Passover seder

This year we identify with the people of Ukraine who seek security, peace and freedom to choose their own destiny.
A Ukrainian flag flying on Cadogan Pier by the River Thames in London. Picture date: Wednesday April 13, 2022. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)

On Passover we not only retell the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt and becoming free, but we also identify with all those who seek freedom today. This year, our hearts are with the people of Ukraine who want security and peace, and the freedom to choose their own destiny. Here are a few prayers and readings for Ukraine and peace that you can incorporate into your seder:

Circa 1930: A group of Jewish members of the ‘Red Star’ movement standing by ‘Praise and Blame’ boards at Kharkov. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

“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 broken hearted 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

Religious Jews perform tashlikh, a Jewish atonement ritual, at the bank of a lake formed by the Umanka River on the first day of Rosh Hashanah on September10, 2018 in Uman, Ukraine. Tens of thousands of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, including many Breslov (also called Bratslav) Hasidim, a specific group of Hasidic Jews, have made the annual journey from all over the world to Uman to visit the tomb of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, who founded the Breslov sect in 1802. The pilgrims come for a spiritual experience and religious discussions, but also to celebrate in what one participant describes as a “Jewish Woodstock.” The Breslov sect grew, attracting thousands of followers, until Stalin’s purges and decimation in the Holocaust. Breslov Hasidism has since revived and its followers live mostly in Israel, the United States and Great Britain. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

“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.

Jewish Ukrainians light candles during the start of the Jewish holiday of Hanukah in Odessa, Ukraine. Hanukah, the Hebrew word meaning dedication, is celebrated for eight days in the Hebrew month of Kislev. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

“JDC Ukraine”

By Eric Lieberman

This is not only the bread of our affliction, but also the lechem oni, the bread of those in dire need.

It’s called that because of its purposeful lack of ingredients — only unleavened flour and water, nothing to make it rise, and it must be baked in haste — the food of those with nothing, those who’ve left everything, in desperate need of a miracle.

It is the bread we took with us when we rushed out of Egypt to pursue our destiny and our peoplehood — to pursue life.

Our Jewish family in Ukraine and those who are fleeing the country share in a single concern — life. A life of safety, of freedom, and of opportunity for better days.

As we hold them close to our hearts tonight, and remember them here at our seder tables, let us do all we can to support and comfort them — in cities under bombardment and at the borders swelling with their numbers — and to build a future whose course we shape with every act of kindness.

We do this because all Jews are responsible for one another, embodying the mighty hand and outstretched arm that has delivered our people throughout time.

Students on a Chabad On Campus Living Links trip to Poland raised $10,000 in supplies for Ukrainian refugees. (Photo Courtesy: Nechama Ginsburg)

“Blessing in support of the world’s refugees”

By Emilia Diamant

Gathered around the Seder table, we pour four cups, remembering the gift of freedom that our ancestors received centuries ago. We delight in our liberation from Pharaoh’s oppression.

We drink four cups for four promises fulfilled.

The first cup as God said, “I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians.”

The second as God said, “And I will deliver you from their bondage.”

The third as God said, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.”

The fourth because God said, “I will take you to be My People.”

We know, though, that all are not yet free. As we welcome Elijah the Prophet into our homes, we offer a fifth cup, a cup not yet consumed.

A fifth cup for the 60 million refugees and displaced people around the world still waiting to be free — from the refugee camps in Chad to the cities and towns of Ukraine, for the Syrian refugees still waiting to be delivered from the hands of tyrants, for the thousands of asylum seekers in the United States still waiting in detention for redemption to come, for all those who yearn to be taken in not as strangers but as fellow human beings.

This Passover, let us walk in the footsteps of the One who delivered us from bondage. When we

rise from our Seder tables, may we be emboldened to take action on behalf of the world’s refugees, hastening Elijah’s arrival as we speak out on behalf of those who are not yet free.

Ukrainian refugees arrive in Israel on March 6, 2022. (Photo courtesy: The Jewish Agency)

“A prayer for peace in Ukraine and beyond”

By Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi

We come before you, Adonai, praying for peace.

A new war has begun, and hundreds of innocent people are dying…

We pray for the strength and courage of the few

faced with the ruthless power of the many.

We stand together with our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine,

the birthplace of so many of our ancestors,

a place where the Jewish people has known both light and darkness.

We pray for a quick end to the raging conflict and the senseless bloodshed.

May our people remember that wherever a Jew is in danger or hurt,

we all feel that danger and pain as well.

As they seek cover from the life-threatening missiles

and fire falling from the sky, as they help the elderly

and hug their children tightly, and defend their homeland,

we pray that they can maintain hope that a Sukkat Shalom—

a canopy of blessing and peace—

will soon emerge above them.

May all the innocent people in the Ukraine and throughout the region

know that we are with them. Even from afar, we hear their cries.

May they know that we will continue to advocate for peace among nations

and that we will strengthen our commitment to aid and protect

every human being.

May the Source of All Life protect all of humanity from violence.

May the Source of Peace bring wisdom to their leaders

and bring a sense of tranquility, shalvah, to the people of the region

and peace to all who are endangered.

Amen.

Jewish refugees travel out of Ukraine on a bus coordinated by The Jewish Agency, March 2022. (Photo courtesy: The Jewish Agency)

“Winter is over: Ukrainian schoolchild’s poem” (1920)

by Daniel Prakhabmek

Winter is over, the cold is gone,

The universe is filled with joy.

The southerly winds slowly blow

Repairing a gloomy soul.

Young sun, spring sun,

Shining in the sky,

Casting a wealth of light on the Earth,

Blinding eyes.

The naked trees,

Are awakened again,

The noisy city,

Dons a new face.

Everything is joyful, alive, and glowing,

The spirit of spring washes over all

Happy are the tall buildings,

Crowned by high mountains.

Still, there remains a glassy film of ice,

Over the swamps, over the streams,

Still, the trees are bare,

The leaves not yet budded.

The birds not yet returned,

Singing their joyful songs,

But spring is already felt,

In every corner and square.

The sky has changed

The sea foam is different,

And spring is already seeping,

Into the depths of the soul.

This is not the world,

This is not as the heights of Creation,

Everything is alive, fresh, happy

Everything returns to life!