The widespread acceptance of the Prayer for the Safety of the United States Armed Forces is truly humbling. It is a manifestation of the rabbinic requisition to “pray on behalf of the host government and its agents” and to convey, beyond mere national pride and patriotism, our continued gratitude for the heroic sacrifice of every soldier serving in the American military.
Finally, its popularity is a tribute to the sensitivity and foresight of Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld and to the prompt response of the Rabbinical Council of America and its late executive vice president, Rabbi Steven Dworkin, who endorsed and disseminated it.
Over the past decade it has been noted that this prayer/supplication is the only “American” liturgical composition to be introduced and disseminated in the United States. Accompanied by footnotes and references, it became the topic of many lectures and seminars on the nature of prayer as an expression of individual pleas and communal petition, as well as an articulation of faith in the role of divine intervention. Hopefully it will remain a spiritual expression as the world recognizes the benefits of peace and freedom from strife.
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Prayer for the Safety of the United States Armed Forces (Translation by the author)
God on High who dwells in might, the King to whom peace belongs, look down from your heavenly abode and bless the valiant soldiers of the United States Armed Forces who risk their lives to protect the wellbeing of all your creation.
Benevolent God, be their shelter and stronghold, and let them not falter. Fill their hearts with courage and faith to thwart the wicked schemes of enemies and end the rule of evil.
Protect them on land, in the air and in the seas, and defeat their adversaries. Guide them in peace, lead them toward peace, and return them safely and speedily to their families, as is written: “God will shield you from all harm; He will guard your soul. God will safeguard your going and coming, now and for evermore.”
Grant us true peace in fulfillment of the prophecy: “Nation shall not lift up sword against another nation, nor shall they learn war any more.”
Let all inhabitants on earth know that Dominion is Yours, and Your Name inspires awe upon all You have created.
May this be Your will, and let us say, Amen.
Milton M. Markovitz served as assistant professor and director of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Adelphi University and has a distinguished record in academic and community leadership.