May Each of Us: A Jewish Prayer for Juneteenth

inspired by Rabbi Sandra’s class, edited by my partner LeBron:
 
after 246 years of slavery
on june 19 it was proclaimed in galveston:
– all slaves are free –
but also:
– freedmen are advised to remain quietly –
 
after 400 years of slavery
on nissan 15 hashem split the sea
but not before ten deadly plagues
and nakhshon risking his life
 
one hundred and fifty eight years later
three thousand one hundred and seventeen years later
 
we are here
thank you hashem for making me free!
but are we free?
 
as audre said:
“i am not free while any woman is unfree,
even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
 
as talmud said:
“at a time when the community is suffering, no one should say,
 ‘i will go home, eat, drink, and be at peace with myself.’”
 
the freedom i found upon crossing that sea was incomplete.
i wandered three months to sinai then forty years in the desert.
only to see my children to the promised land
land of freedom flowing with milk and honey.
 
our siblings are wandering their own desert today.
 
my ancestors wandered to eretz yisrael once, our siblings four times.
we celebrate each step toward liberation
every nissan 15, every June 19
and still we seek freedom.
 
each of us
 
may each of us
 wade  in the water like nakhshon
may each of us
reach the mountaintop
may each of us
learn what it is to do good
may each of us
devote our souls to justice
may each of us
aid the wronged
may each of us
remove the shackles of another
until there are no shackles left
until our stories have been quilted together
until we are all in the promised land
until we have build eden together
amen
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