A Yom Kippur Prayer for those Impacted by the Famine in East Africa

As we gather this Yom Kippur, we remember the 12 million people in the Horn of Africa—in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti—who are suffering from acute food shortages and malnutrition. Although drought is the immediate cause of the famine, it is exacerbated by decades of conflict, poor governance, and inequality. Let us take a moment to pray for the well-being of the people of the region and for the wisdom and strength to help respond effectively to both the short-term and long-term challenges they face.

Avinu Malkeynu, our Parent and our Sovereign,1 we stand before you on this day of judgment and implore you to remember, inscribe and seal Your children living in the Horn of Africa in the Book of Life.2 Remove the plague against them; may they not perish from thirst and hunger.3 Out of the depths, hear their cries4—do not abandon them and do not forsake them, O God of deliverance.5 On this day of repentance, may we, the members of this holy congregation, open our ears to the cries of those in need as we hear the wail of the shofar and soften our hearts to others’ suffering as we strike our chests in penitence. As we commit to repentance, prayer and tzedakah6 in order to better our own lives, give us the courage, the compassion and the conviction to use our voices, our power and our resources to save the lives of others.

Melekh Hafetz Ba’hayyim7—God who desires life—may we join together to support the people of the Horn of Africa so that they may find justice, peace, security and prosperity in the year to come.8 In this hour when the gates are closing, hear our voices and accept our prayer with mercy and favor, and let us say: Amen.9

1 From the Avinu Malkeynu prayer, recited after the repetition of the Amidah on Yom Kippur and on other occasions 
2 From the conclusion of the Amidah when recited from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur 
3 From the Unetaneh Tokef prayer, recited as a part of the repetition of the Mussaf Amidah on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 
4 Psalm 130:1, recited as a part of the Shakharit service between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 
5 Psalms 27:9, recited at morning and evening services during the month leading up to the High Holidays 
6 From the Unetaneh Tokef prayer, recited as a part of the repetition of the Mussaf Amidah on Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur 
7 From the addition to the Amidah when recited from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur 
8 From the concluding Neilah service on Yom Kippur 
9 From the Slikhot service recited in preparation for and during Yom Kippur

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