• The Western Wall at night.

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Inside the Jewish Agency

Who Wrote the Prayer for the State of Israel?

The prayer has a close personal connection to Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Isaac Herzog.

At synagogues around the world on Yom Kippur, Jews will recite the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel, as they do every Saturday and on many holidays. The prayer has a close personal connection to Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Isaac Herzog.

The question of who wrote the prayer was long the subject of inquiry and debate. Many believed the prayer was written by famed author Shai Agnon, one of the central figures in the landscape of modern Hebrew fiction. Others have argued it was penned by Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel, who served as the Sephardi chief rabbi of British Mandatory Palestine from 1939-1948 and then the State of Israel from 1948-1953.
But Dr. Yoel Rappel, the founder and former director of the Elie Wiesel Archive at Boston University, conducted years of intensive research on the issue and concluded that the prayer was authored by Isaac Herzog’s grandfather, Rabbi Isaac HaLevi Herzog—the chief rabbi of Ireland from 1921-1936, and the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of British Mandatory Palestine and then the State of Israel from 1936 until his death in 1959.

Although the Prayer for the State has been repeatedly modified by Jewish communities in Israel and worldwide who recite it in synagogue on a weekly basis, the prayer continues to serve as an important symbol of Jewish and Israeli unity, solidarity, and peoplehood.
“The Jewish prayer book is a receptacle for the memories of the good and bad times that have passed through the people of Israel, the Land of Israel, and the Diaspora,” Rappel writes in his commentary on the prayer for the state. “The commemoration of historical events through prayer has both educational and spiritual goals, to serve as an example of God’s power and love for His people and for Israel, as they were revealed in the great events of the past and as they will continue to be revealed in the future.”
The Jewish Agency embodies the spirit of global Jewish unity by making the cultivation of a warm Israel-Diaspora relationship central to the organization’s mission. This is accomplished through more than 2,000 Jewish Agency Shlichim (Israeli emissaries) who strengthen Jewish identity and connections to Israel in 150 countries by providing educational programs and Israel experiences that build Jewish identity, knowledge, and commitment. The Jewish Agency also fosters Israel-Diaspora closeness through Partnership2Gether, which connects 900 Jewish and Israeli communities and organizations around the world in 46 partnerships. P2G’s hands-on projects and personal interactions engage 350,000 Israelis and Jews each year.
“Jewish people around the world and in Israel share a love for the Land of Israel and the State of Israel,” Herzog said in August during his first visit to the U.S. as Chairman. “While we have a sincere desire to maintain and strengthen the connection between us, I’m very aware of the growing feeling that Diaspora Jews are drifting away from Israel. I will do everything in my power to act against this trend that’s increasingly dividing us. We are one nation, small amongst nations, that’s facing huge challenges. Only when we are together can we overcome them.”
This story was originally reported by Nathan Roi for The Jewish Agency for Israel

17 Sep 2018 / 8 Tishrei 5779 0
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