Friends: It is an honour and a pleasure to be with you this evening. I have been invited to offer a prayer on Unity. Unity between people and peoples of different religions, faiths, ethnicities, cultures, sexualities and genders can only be achieved if we acknowledge and celebrate our differences and the rich diversity of human existence.
I would like to share with you a poem written forty years ago by the American Jewish feminist artist, Judy Chicago, which was inspired by the concluding prayer of each of the three daily services, the Al Kein; a prayer that looks to the future when all the peoples of the world, will recognise the Eternal One and the unity of us all:
And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another’s will
And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many
And then all will share equally in the Earth’s abundance
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old
And then all will nourish the young
And then all will cherish life’s creatures
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.
To conclude, I shall sing the first verse of Psalm 133:
Hinneh mah-tov u’mah-na’im, shevet achim gam-yachad
How good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.
I will sing the words achim, ‘brothers’, and achayyot, ‘sisters’, alternately, recognising that both words, achim and achayyot, share a common root that conveys the deep connections we all share with one another as human beings, regardless of religion, faith, ethnicity, culture, gender or sexuality.
May the bonds that hold us ‘together in unity’ this evening during this wonderful celebration of cross-communal solidarity continue to hold us ‘together in unity’, despite the efforts of those who foment hatred and division, during the year that lies ahead.
And let us say: Amen.
Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah
Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue
DIALOGUE SOCIETY IFTAR ON ‘UNITY’, Grand Hotel, Brighton, 2nd June 2019