Mi Sheberach for All Immigrants and the Descendants of Immigrants
Aug 29, 2013 by Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker
The following is a Mi Sheberach for a person who immigrated to the United States, to be used on Rosh HaShanah. The accompanying introduction could be rewritten not for an individual but for all in the sanctuary: “I want to offer this mi sheberach for all who are in our sanctuary who immigrated to the United States and for all who have a parent who immigrated here, or a grandparent or a great-grandparent, or ancestor. In essence, this mi sheberach is for all of us.”
Introduction. For the first aliyah we invite (name) for the honor. We do so not only for (name), but also to recognize him/her as someone who came to America many years ago to escape the horrors of the Shoah, the Holocaust, in Greece and built his/her life here, facing both challenges and successes. After his/her aliyah, I will offer a mi sheberach for all who are immigrants and all who are the children of immigrants, or grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, or descendants, in essence for all of us.
After Aliyah: Mi sheberach avoteinu v’imoteinu….may God who blessed our immigrant ancestors, who left their homes because of the pain that was known and entered new lands with pains that could not be imagined, who left Egypt, who left Spain and Russia, Iraq, Greece, and Germany, bless you (name), who has come for an aliyah with reverence for God, respect for the Torah and this Yom HaDin, day of Rosh Hashanah.
May God bless you and all who came to America and found refuge, and all of us who immigrated or whose parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or ancestors came to these shores beckoned by promise, liberty, and opportunity.
In this holy place and time we acknowledge the depth of our connection with our people’s story both ancient and modern. We remember on this Day of Remembrance, Yom haZikaron, what it was like for us or for our ancestors to immigrate to this country and are mindful of Leviticus’ strong command repeated in similar verse 35 times in Torah: “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (19:33-34).
We acknowledge on this day that we live in an America where immigration policies are broken. As we stand today before an open sefer Torah on our holy day—May we remain open to the possibility of comprehensive change in our immigration system. May we remain open to the suffering of eleven million people who are undocumented, some say illegal, whose lives and whose children’s’ lives are limited every day because of their uncertain status. May we strive to balance our needed protections with their real, daily challenges as we work for clear, empathetic, and realistic policies.
May the Holy One of Blessing inscribe and seal you (name) and all of us into the Book of Good Life, together with all our fellow citizens, all who seek that claim, and all in our communities. And let us say, Amen.
Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker is the rabbi at Mount Zion Temple, in St. Paul, Minn.