Photo Credit: ICRC.org
Desperately-needed medical supplies were destroyed in an attack on a UN humanitarian convoy close to Aleppo, Sept. 20, 2016.

While the world has been watching with horror as hundreds of thousands of Syrians are losing their homes – and their very lives – in the once vibrant commercial hub of Aleppo, a congregation in Englewood, New Jersey is asking friends to pray for the victims.

In a letter entitled, Prayers for Aleppo, Rabbis Shmuel Goldin, Chaim Poupko and Mordechai Kuessous write: “We who have experienced so much persecution throughout our history cannot help but be deeply dismayed by the continuing images of blameless civilians assaulted and murdered indiscriminately. The words “Never Again” ring hollow as again we witness murder and massacres with no one to come to the aid of the victims.”

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The rabbis state that while all feel powerless, they are writing to ask everyone to “please Daven (pray) and recite Tehillim (psalms) for the innocent victims.”

Two years ago, they write, the Bnei Akiva youth movement in Israel approached Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, a leading head of a yeshiva, for guidance on how to pray for the ‘People of Syria.’ Rabbi Cherlow suggested Psalm 37 and Psalm 120, which speak of the plight of the innocent righteous when evil men plot against them. In addition, the rabbi wrote his own prayer for the Syrian people, and passed it along to volunteers, telling them they could share it with others.

The three rabbis write under the name of the Englewood Synagogue, Congregation Ahavath Torah, that they will recite these prayers and psalms (see below) between Mincha (the afternoon service) and Maariv (the evening service) and over the Sabbath, “but we request of you to please recite these prayers over these next few days, wherever you may be.”

Rav Cherlow’s Prayer for the People of Syria נוסח התפילה המלא שחיבר הרב יובל שרלו:

ריבונו של עולם, העושה שלום במרומיו, אף שלא הוסמכנו לתקן תפילות – אין אנו יכולים עוד להביט אל הטבח הנעשה בעולמך ולא להתפלל על כך; אף שאנו יודעים כי שני הצדדים במלחמה הם שופכי דמים פראיים – אין אנו מסוגלים לשתוק בשעה שנפגעים רבים שהם מחוץ למעגל הלחימה. אנו פונים אליך בתפילה כי תעורר ברוצחים את האנושיות הפשוטה ואת מידת הרחמים, את ההכרה כי כולנו נבראנו בצלם א-לוהים וכי גם למידת האכזריות יש גבולות, ותופיע בעולם את מה שכתבת בתורתך “שופך דם האדם באדם דמו יישפך, כי בצלם א-לוהים עשה את האדם”. שלח בנו גם את התבונה לדעת מה לעשות בשעה הקשה הזו, בו שוב מתגלה הצד האפל שביצרם הרע של בני אדם, ואין אנו יודעים מה מוטל עלינו מול מציאות מרה זו; שלח בנו את היכולת לפעול ככל יכולתנו כדי למנוע שפיכות דמים בעולם, ובמיוחד בארץ הקדושה והרחבה, עליה כתבת בתורתך “וְלֹא תַחֲנִיפוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם בָּהּ כִּי הַדָּם הוּא יַחֲנִיף אֶת הָאָרֶץ, וְלָאָרֶץ לֹא יְכֻפַּר לַדָּם אֲשֶׁר שֻׁפַּךְ בָּהּ כִּי אִם בְּדַם שֹׁפְכוֹ”. עושה שלום במרומיו, הוא יעשה שלום עלינו, ועל כל ישראל, ואמרו אמן. Master of the universe, who makes peace on high, we are not accustomed to new formal prayers, we can no longer look at the slaughter taking place in Your world and fail to pray about it. Though we know that both sides in the war are guilty of wanton bloodshed, we are unable to keep silent when so many who are beyond the circle of conflict have fallen victim. We beseech You in prayer to arouse in the killers their basic humanity and evoke mercy in their hearts, that they may recognize that we are all created in the image of God, and that there are limits even to human cruelty. May You bring to pass what is written in Your Torah: “He who sheds the blood of man, by man his blood shall be shed, for in God’s image was man created.” Grant us the wisdom to know how to act in this hour of distress, when the dark face of humanity’s evil inclination is once again fully exposed and we are unsure how to stand against it. Enable us to act with all our energies to prevent bloodshed in Your world, above all in the Holy Land and its environs, as it is written in Your Torah: “You shall not pollute the land where you are for blood pollutes the land; and the land will not expiate the blood shed upon it, but with the blood of he that shed it.” May God who makes peace on high, make peace upon us and upon all Israel, and let us say Amen.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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