A Prayer of Atonement

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, Jewish congregations around the world confess their communal transgressions. From the point of view of the Jewish American community, we take responsibility for ourselves and each other and know we are all in this together. Looking back at the past year, we pray:

Compassionate God...

We have sinned against You by conveniently blaming everything on Congress, forgetting to look in the mirror and realize that they accurately represent us as a nation.

We have sinned against You by failing to pass national gun safety legislation, even after the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary and gun accidents and violence every day.

We have sinned against You by allowing the denigration of the working poor and the mother who collects food stamps, and accepting people going hungry as the price of doing business.

We have sinned against You by accepting racial disparities in economic opportunity and violence as normal, even as we marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

We have sinned against You by diminishing funding for medical research, so that thousands more scientists scramble for fewer grants.

We have sinned against You by engaging in economically dangerous practices, being willing to pass off impossible debt to our children and grandchildren, and being unwilling to make necessary sacrifices.

We have sinned against You by meeting today's energy needs and gaining profit in our portfolios, while disregarding the future health of our environment for our immediate convenience.

We have sinned against You by wanting cheap goods regardless of how we get them and mistakenly thinking slavery is a thing of the past.

We have sinned against You by ignoring and enabling radicals in our own midst and around the world, forgetting that silence and inaction is understood as acceptance or even agreement.

We have sinned against You by not speaking up enough as proud Zionists and allowing Israel to be vilified in the media.

We have sinned against You by letting a narrow Jewish radical religious agenda guide important policies of the State of Israel for too long, for we must be willing to criticize -- as a friend -- our beloved Jewish State.

Hold us accountable, God, as Jewish Americans. We admit that we too are partly culpable. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught, "Some are guilty, but all are responsible."