Begishmay orah / Prayer for Rain

This is Elliott batTzedek’s adaptive translation of the prayer for rain recited by Sephardic Jews on Shemini Atzeret. It began with the version printed in Kol Haneshema, the Reconstructionist prayer book, where it is beautifully decorated with art from Betsy Teutsch.

The original is an acrostic poem, as liturgical poems so often are. This adaptation doesn’t try to follow that, but focuses instead on a reflexive theology, one that emphasizes the interaction between human behavior and the natural world. This is a prayer for our time, this moment of the very solid possibility of ecological collapse caused by humans – we have chosen to step out of natural cycles, to control and dominate and extract and burn, and we need prayers that call us back to balance.