Prayer for the State of Israel

In this resource we will become familiar with the prayer for the State of Israel, which was composed just after the establishment of the State.

Resource Ages: 9-11, 12-14

Source

Our Father in Heaven, Rock and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel, the first manifestation of the approach of our redemption. Shield it with Your lovingkindness, envelop it in Your peace, and bestow Your light and truth upon its leaders, ministers, and advisors, and grace them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our holy land, grant them deliverance, and adorn them in a mantle of victory. Ordain peace in the land and grant its inhabitants eternal happiness.

(Excerpt from the Prayer for the State of Israel)

אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם,
צוּר יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגוֹאֲלוֹ,
בָּרֵךְ אֶת מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל,
רֵאשִׁית צְמִיחַת גְּאֻלָּתֵנוּ.
הָגֵן עָלֶיהָ בְּאֶבְרַת חַסְדֶּךָ,
וּפְרֹשׂ עָלֶיהָ סֻכַּת שְׁלוֹמֶךָ,
וּשְׁלַח אוֹרְךָ וַאֲמִתְּךָ לְרָאשֶׁיהָ, שָׂרֶיהָ וְיוֹעֲצֶיהָ,
וְתַקְּנֵם בְּעֵצָה טוֹבָה מִלְּפָנֶיךָ.
חַזֵּק אֶת יְדֵי מְגִנֵּי אֶרֶץ קׇדְשֵׁנוּ,
וְהַנְחִילֵם אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְשׁוּעָה
וַעֲטֶרֶת נִצָּחוֹן תְּעַטְּרֵם,
וְנָתַתָּ שָׁלוֹם בָּאָרֶץ,
וְשִׂמְחַת עוֹלָם לְיוֹשְׁבֶיהָ. 

Foundations for Planning

Essential Questions

  • How does the idea that Jews everywhere celebrate the same holidays and pray the same prayers connect me to the Jewish community?

Content Questions Related to the Essential Questions

  • How are changes within the Jewish people reflected in traditions and customs?
  • How do prayers connect us to our past?
  • To what extent is there room for change, development, and innovation in prayer?
  • What is the connection between the Jews in the Diaspora and the State of Israel?

Background for Teacher

The Prayer for the State of Israel was composed about four months after the establishment of the state. It was written by the two Chief Rabbis who were serving at the time: Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog and Rabbi Ben-Zion Chai Uziel. The prayer was added...

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The Prayer for the State of Israel was composed about four months after the establishment of the state. It was written by the two Chief Rabbis who were serving at the time: Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog and Rabbi Ben-Zion Chai Uziel. The prayer was added to the siddur and is recited on Shabbat and festivals. The prayer asks for blessings of success for the State of Israel. It expresses the wish that the nation’s leaders should receive good advice and lead the nation accordingly; it seeks protection for the soldiers who defend the nation; it hopes for the ingathering of Jews from around the world in Israel; and it expresses the desire for peace in Israel.

Optional Hooks
In-Depth Discussion
Suggested Activities
Further Study

Play an association game with the students. Write the word “Israel” on the board and ask the students to come up and write words or short expressions that they feel are connected to this word. It is important to make it clear to the students that there are no right answers. Then divide the class into pairs and ask each pair to think of 3-5 things they wish for the State of Israel, and write them down.

Click here to view our consolidated list of suggested interactive pedagogies for classroom discussion.

  1. What requests are mentioned in the prayer?
  2. The prayer seeks protection for Israel. What does Israel need protecting from?
  3. Why is it important that leaders receive good advice and make smart and correct decisions? Give an example of an important decision that the leaders of your country took, and how it influenced people. 
  4. How do you think it makes Israel’s leaders and defenders feel to know that Jewish people around the world are praying for them?
  5. In the prayer, the requests for peace and for happiness appear close together. What is the connection between the two?
  6. Which blessings that appear in the prayer in the context of the State of Israel could also be said regarding your country?

For older students:

  1. The Prayer for the State of Israel is a relatively new prayer in the siddur. What can we learn from that about the Siddur?
  2. Jews around the world say this prayer, even though they don’t live in Israel. Why?
  3. Is Israel’s wellbeing important to you? Why? Explain.
  4. The final section of the prayer discusses strength, the military, and victory, and then goes on to ask for peace. What can we learn from that about the purpose of fighting? Why is it important to remember this?
  • Ask the students to think of blessings they would like to wish Israel and to write them in the form of a blessing for the state.
  • The prayer over time: Remind the students that this prayer was written when Israel was established. Today, decades later, ask the students if they would leave the prayer as it is, or whether they would prefer to change or add something?Suggest that they present their reply in the form of a blessing for Israel.
  • For older students: Siddurim composed in other countries include special prayers for the government of that country, under the heading of “Prayer for the Government” or similar titles. Look in some different siddurim and see whether you can find this prayer. What does it say? What are the similarities and the differences between these prayers and the prayers for Israel?

Play a version of the prayer performed by children.