A Liturgy for the U.S. Presidential Inauguration, 2021

A three-prayer liturgy for the U.S. Presidential Inauguration. It includes a new prayer for Vice President Kamala Harris conceived with Cantor Evan Kent. Brief descriptions of each prayer follow in the postscript.

For the U.S. President
God of history,
Bless the U.S. President with skill,
To act with inspiration and insight,
Becoming a visionary for the world,
Building our nation and communities
In Your image,
A steward dedicated to justice,
So that our cities and towns
Resonate with compassion and health,
Justice and mercy,
Kindness and peace.

Bless our President
With dedication and foresight,
Fortitude and imagination
To solve the complex issues that threaten our future.
Let the weight of the office
Change him for the good.
Let the institutions of our government
Serve as checks and balances to his power.
May he lead us to a time when neighbors embrace
And communities thrive,
A time when liberty and equality
Reign supreme.

Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security
To all nations and communities,
So that truth and harmony will resound
From the four corners of the earth.
Let the light of wisdom
Shine brightly in the halls of power,
A beacon of hope
For every land and every people.

A Prayer Celebrating Kamala Harris’ Inauguration
Our God and God of our mothers and fathers,
On this historic inauguration
We celebrate a woman becoming Vice President of the United States,
A 100 year-climb from women’s suffrage to the Oval Office.

We honor and remember all the women in our lives who sought freedom,
And all who came before in this struggle,
The women who paved the way for equality,
Who marched in the streets,
Who supported their families,
Who battled sexism and racism in the face of hostility.
Who were paid less,
Passed over for jobs,
And battled for promotions,
Who had to prove themselves more capable than male colleagues.

Vice President Kamala Harris has broken through
One of the most formidable glass ceilings of leadership
And into the innermost sanctum of power
In the world’s most successful democracy
At a time of crisis.
Black. Asian-American. Woman.
Powerful. Focused. Unyielding.
Articulate. Educated. Brilliant.
Successful, she is everything
The old guard
And the good ol’ boys fear.

The glass ceiling of government –
The White House and the Office of the Vice President –
Has been broken.
There is only one more glass ceiling left.
But the barriers that still
Keep minorities and women from rising
To the upper rungs of success,
Regardless of their qualifications or achievements,
Have not been broken for all.
As we celebrate this victory,
We pledge ourselves to continue the struggle,
Knowing the depth of the work of justice and healing required.

For Government
יקום פרקן מן שמיא
Yikum purkan min shemaiya
Let deliverance arise from heaven
Bringing justice and enlightenment
To the nations of the earth
And to the leaders of the United States,

חנא וחסדא ורחמי
Chi’neh v’chesteh v’ra’chamai
Bringing grace, love and compassion
To the halls of power,
The seats of government,
The capitals of our world.

יהי רצון מלפניך
Y’hi ratzon milfanecha
May it be Your will
To grant the heads of State
A new vision
For safety and prosperity,
Friendship and cooperation,
So that all may know
The fullness of Your blessings,
In a world of generosity and kindness,
Tranquility and peace.

הנותן תשועה וממשלה לנסיאים
Ha’notein t’shu’ah u’memshalah l’nosi’im
May You who gives redemption and governance to presidents,
Reward us with political leaders
With true vision and deep understanding
Of Your instructions to rebuild
And renew the earth,
So that economic, legal,
Social and environmental justice
May bear fruit
For generations to come.

“For the U.S. President” is © 2021 Alden Solovy. “A Prayer Celebrating Kamala Harris’ Inauguration” is © 2021 Alden Solovy and Evan Kent. “For Government” by Alden Solovy is © 2019 CCAR Press from This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings.

Postscript: With only minor modifications, the opening prayer “For the U.S. President” is the same as my inauguration liturgy from 2017. “For Government” borrows Hebrew from several prayers from the traditional siddur that are said after the Shabbat Torah reading: yikum purkan, y’hi ratzon and hanotein t’shu’ah. It’s from This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings.

The prayer of celebration for Kamala Harris’ Vice Presidential inauguration is a third major revision. It was originally written in collaboration with Cantor Evan Kent in 2016 as ritual for breaking a glass anticipating a presidential win by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, representing the broken glass ceiling. We first rewrote it as a ritual for breaking glass for Kamala Harris, but the treachery in Washington seemed to call for a more sober response, which is the version published here. The prayer is inspired by a ritual from Rachel Jacoby Rosenfield which she also created in 2016.

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