God Desires My Freedom

On the Rabbis Without Borders blog, a reflection on being paralyzed by fear and finding a way forward, with the help of friends, including one who encouraged me to compose and share this prayer:

“God Desires My Freedom,” recited at the Lights for Liberty Vigil to End Human Detention Camps, Plaza Fiesta, Chamblee, GA – July 12, 2019

En medio de mi angustia llamé al Señor; El Señor me respondió y me puso en un lugar espacioso.

מִֽן־הַ֭מֵּצַ֥ר קָרָ֣אתִי יָּ֑הּ עָנָ֖נִי בַמֶּרְחָ֣ב יָֽהּ

From the depths of despair I cry out to You, God;

Answer me, from the wide open place of Your Presence. (Psalms 118:5)

Here, in this narrow space, I am confined by anger and pain.

I scream incoherently against the cruelty of confining human beings  

in unsanitary and overcrowded detention camps,

in less humane conditions than abandoned pets in animal shelters.

I gasp in horror at seeing children separated from their parents, 

who in desperation risked their lives, crossing vast deserts and raging rivers,

to seek safety and freedom from violence, but who find no protection here.

I sob in shame before You: Why am I free?

Only because I had the good fortune to be born on this soil…

Only because my grandfather had the courage to leave Russia for Canada, from where he was deported so that he could board a ship to New York; 

I am a free citizen because he immigrated to the U.S. nearly 100 years ago, when the borders were still open to Jews fleeing persecution.

I am free, while my brothers and sisters whose ancestors lived on this continent long before mine arrived, are not free. 

Instead they are detained and dehumanized, traumatized and tortured.

En medio de mi angustia llamé al Señor

מִֽן־הַ֭מֵּצַ֥ר קָרָ֣אתִי יָּ֑הּ

From this narrow space, we cry out to You, God.

Help us find the words to bear witness against those wielding their power 

to persecute and punish Your children.

Strengthen and multiply our voices, 

so that we may inspire all who hear us to seek justice and pursue peace,

to redeem these captives and to end their imprisonment. 

I pray we will soon stand together 

with those set free and reunited with their families,  

And we will lift our voices in joy and thanksgiving 

to the One who saves us and delivers us from distress:

God saved me from my fierce enemy, from foes too strong for me.

They confronted me on the day of my calamity, but God was my support.

También me sacó a un lugar espacioso, 

וַיּוֹצִיאֵ֥נִי לַמֶּרְחָ֑ב

And God brought me to this wide open space, rescued me, because God desires my freedom.” (Psalms 18:18-20)