A Rabbi’s Prayer on the Eve of the Holiday

On the eve of a new year, I offer this prayer on behalf of my colleagues and religious leaders of every faith, who are striving to connect people in community in new and creative ways while maintain an authentic sense of tradition. And I offer this prayer in thanksgiving for a community who has told its faith leaders in a myriad of ways that they trust us, despite our flaws. The Hineni prayer (“Here I am”) is the prayer leader’s plea that God look past the shortcomings of the one appointed to pray on the community’s behalf. What follows is my interpretation of the original text.

Perhaps they don’t see that I am
Feeling unprepared
to confront current circumstance,
Shaken and uncertain
In the face of forces that threaten to overwhelm me.

Yet I must present myself to be heard
on behalf of a community that has entrusted me to represent.

I don’t claim to be worthy or sufficiently informed.
So I seek balance in the Source
of my ancestors’ resilience
In the breath between
Adonai and Adonai,
Compassion and Grace,
Tradition and Self-Sufficiency,
Reverence and Awe.

Carve me a path to success
As I seek the welfare
Of all those who have sent me.
Hold blameless those who trust me despite my shortcomings now exposed.

Guide me to speak with wisdom,
sensitive in tone,
considerate of all needs.
And may the love in my heart make up for the flaws in my actions.

May acknowledging the mistakes of our past transform our futures into joy and celebration,
life and wholeness,
with truth and peace as our guides.

Don’t let me falter on this path.

May it be Your will—
God of Israel and Sonia
God of Stan and Hannah
El, Unfathomable, Powerful,
Beyond Understanding
Source of my resilience
Yet to be known—
That my words will resonate
And carry
Until they are understood
For their sincerity
And their intentions
And their justice
And their humanity
And for the way they honor Your Name,
Unfathomable and Beyond Understanding.

Attend to my prayer for compassion.
With gratitude,

Rabbi Craig Scheff

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17 responses to “A Rabbi’s Prayer on the Eve of the Holiday”

  1. LLOYD FISHMAN says :

    Beautiful words. Shana Tova and may this be a year of peace and health.

  2. cyprod says :

    Amen.Y’asher KoachL’ShannaTovah to your entire family.Charles, Avi and BenSent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

  3. Rhonda Plawner says :

    As always your words are beautiful and meaningful. May your words resonate with your community and beyond. Praying for strength, resilience, health and peace to bring all of us safely out of this darkness. Shanah Tovah.

  4. Charles Yassky and Family says :

    Amen v’Amen.
    Y’Asher Koach.
    L’Shanna to your entire family and the entire family of the Jewish People..

  5. Gail Sanders says :

    We pray that the burdens of the world that our dear rabbis feel so acutely decrease with each day in the coming year. All you are, and all you do, does not go unrecognized and unappreciated. Wishing you renewal and blessings in the coming year. Shana tova with love and gratitude, Gail and Jeff >

  6. Lydia Katz says :

    I feel so fortunate to be among those for whom you pray. Thank you Rav Sheli for those beautiful and strengthening words. I so needed them. I feel you reaching over the distance that separates us in these difficult times. I will be in your sanctuary in spirit. Shana Tovah to you and your wonderful family and loved ones.

  7. Beverly Wertheim says :

    Such beautiful words. Thank you. Shana Tovah. We miss you!

  8. Miriam Rosenstock says :

    Thank you for helping me feel embraced by your meaningful words of comfort

    • Lorraine Brown says :

      Thank you for your personal expression of prayer of faith and hope. In these difficult times, I have felt enormous gratitude for your guidance! I pray that you will continue to uplift our OJC community with your resilience, strength and optimism! . Wishing you and your family Shana Tovah with health, joy and peace!

  9. Miriam Rosenstock says :

    Thankful for comforting words

  10. Mimi Kaminsky Rosenstock says :

    Thank you for words of comfort

  11. Sheila Bunin says :

    Joe and I are very moved by your words of compassion and wisdom. We are blessed to have you as our spiritual leader. May we all find the future filled with peace, unity, and good health for humanity and the earth.

  12. Dorothy Ehrlich says :

    Thank you. Will miss being with everyone this year. Shana Tova!

  13. Thomas Williger says :


    On Wed, Sep 16, 2020 at 9:02 AM Two Rabbis, One Voice, Three Opinions wrote:

    > Rabbi Craig Scheff posted: “Perhaps they don’t see me Feeling unprepared > to confront current circumstance, Shaken and uncertain In the face of > forces that threaten to overwhelm me. Yet I must present myself to be heard > on behalf of a community that has entrusted me to repres” >

  14. Faye Dinowitz says :

    I thank you for all you are doing to keep our congregation together. We are blessed to have you, Rabbi Drill and Rabbi Hirsh working so hard organizing all the activities and services. Happy and Healthy New Year to you and your entire family. La Shana Tova.

  15. Sherri Williger and Tom Williger says :

    Dear Rabbi Scheff, your prayer is filled with strength and humility. It is a

    glimpse into the window of your soul. You carry great responsibilities and

    burdens. We, in our compassion, are aware, that you are human, without any

    supernatural powers. Therefore, it is understandable that you can be a great

    senior leader of our community and a special man, but not flawless. Only our

    Creator, is perfect and sublime.

    Thank you, for sharing, with us, that our Rabbi, too, has trepidation, about this

    time, in history, and how it will effect our present and future.

    It has been said, that, “Life is a mirror”, and we, also, have these thoughts and

    anxieties, about the known and the unknown.

    We are grateful, for your support, wisdom, strength and innermost thoughts,

    along with your “menshlikite”, and bravery.

    We are sending our blessings, to you, and your family, the Rabbis and their

    families, and to our OJC community. Prayers and good will to all.

    Love….Sherri and Tom Williger and Family

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