Tekhines, Yiddish women’s prayers, originated in Europe in the 16th century. Written in Yiddish, tekhines span the breadth of high synagogue worship to the holy moments at home (a prayer for a child’s first lost tooth), to the mundane tasks of life (baking challahBraided egg bread eaten on Shabbat and holidays. Reminiscent of bread eaten by Priests in the Temple, of manna in the desert, and sustenance in general. Plural: Hallot for ShabbatShabbat is the Sabbath day, the Day of Rest, and is observed from Friday night through Saturday night. Is set aside from the rest of the week both in honor of the fact that God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. On Shabbat, many Jews observe prohibitions from various activities designated as work. Shabbat is traditionally observed with festive meals, wine, challah, prayers, the reading and studying of Torah, conjugal relations, family time, and time with friends.). It is the tekhines written most clearly by women, for women, that are glimpses into their worldview, priorities, needs from prayer, and conceptions of Divinity.
We know that people of all genders access the medical care provided by Planned Parenthood clinics across the United States. When clinics are targeted by violent legislation and violent armed acts of terrorism, it is a direct attack on the care and services for women. So, a tekhine for Planned Parenthood, a prayer for all of us who seek care there, a prayer for service providers and volunteers. A tekhine, a prayer written in the vernacular by the same people who need them so explicitly.
Ribono shel olamLit. Master of the Universe A term sometimes used in the Jewish liturgy to refer to God., ruler of the universe,
Who planted the tree of knowledge in the garden,
to know between good and evil,1
Who granted human beings free choice.
Be with me in this time.
Holder, Guard, keep us safe.
Ribono shel olam, RachelLavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem. is weeping for her children,2
She pours out her grief.
I am awash in her tears.
Lift up the neshamot, the souls, of our fallen,
Comfort their families.
Memory, Eternal, remember us.
Ribono shel olam,
who knows of birth and death and the life that exists between,
Bless our healers,
Bless our health,
Bless our hands as we work to heal this brokenness.
Bless our treatments as they bring chayyim tovim, good life, on us all.
Shield our caregivers from harm
For our rabbis teach us, that one on their way to perform one of your holy commandments
is themselves shielded from harm.3
Healer, Soother, treat us.
Ribono shel olam,
Our Well, our source, who brings renewal and sustenance.
You are the deep well I draw from.
The well where RebeccaThe second Jewish matriarch, Isaac's wife, and mother to Jacob and Esau. Rebecca is an active parent, talking to God when she is pregnant and learning the fate of her children, then ultimately manipulating Isaac and the children to ensure Jacob's ascendancy. Her Hebrew name is Rivka. stood,
The waters that MiriamMiriam is the sister of Miriam and Aaron. As Moses' and Aaron's sister she, according to midrash, prophesies Moses' role and helps secure it by watching over the young baby, seeing to it that Pharaoh's daughter takes him and that the baby is returned to his mother for nursing. During the Israelites' trek through the desert, a magical well given on her behalf travels with the Israelites, providing water, healing, and sustenance. caused to pour forth.
The waters of the Nile that Yocheved trusted.
Ribono shel olam,
bless these sacred spaces of decision.4
1 Genesis 2:9. There is debate on whether the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil are the same tree, or seperate. For many, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil refers to carnal knowledge, due to the shame which is part of the immediate fallout from eating of the tree (Etz Chayyim)
2 Jeremiah 31:15
3 TalmudThe rabbinic compendium of lore and legend composed between 200 and 500 CE. Study of the Talmud is the focus of rabbinic scholarship. The Talmud has two versions, the main Babylonian version (Bavli) and the smaller Jerusalem version (Yerushalmi). It is written in Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic. Bavli i Pesachim 8a “R. Elazar taught that harm will not befall a Shali’ach (someone on the way to do a) MitzvahLit. Commandment. It is traditionally held that there are 613 mitzvot (plural) in Judaism, both postive commandments (mandating actions) and negative commandments (prohibiting actions). Mitzvah has also become colloquially assumed to mean the idea of a “good deed."!”
4 Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Ariana is a student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and volunteer chaplain at Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania.
To donate to the funeral fund of Ke’Arre Stewart, one of the victims of the Friday November 27 shooting, please click here. To donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds, please click here. To donate to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, click here.