Prayer for Rosh Hashanah

By Rev. William J. Danaher Jr., Rector

Prayer for Temple Beth El

Rosh Hashanah

September 6, 2021

Watch the prayer online here.

About the High Holy Days:

The ten days that begin with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur mark the holy of holies in Jewish time. The liturgy is meant to serve as a kind of spiritual architecture that rebuilds the Temple in Jerusalem with prayer. The guiding theme is the Hebrew word, teshuva, a very rough translation of which means both return and repentance. Teshuva is therefore used in the Hebrew Bible to describe the physical act of homecoming and the spiritual act of remorse, a change of heart and deed.

The prayer I have been asked to pray is a blessing on the Jewish people, that their own prayers would lead to spiritual renewal. Therefore, I have been careful to draw from the Jewish tradition where the promises of God for the people of Israel and the holy city of Jerusalem are named.

At the same time, Rosh Hashanah is not merely a celebration of what God as Redeemer and Revealer has done for the Jewish people, but it is a celebration of the “Beginning” of the universe. The prayers said on the High Holy Days not only recall the mighty acts of God in delivering God’s people, but also remind us of God’s loving creation of the cosmos and all humanity.

Therefore, it is customary for the prayers of Rosh Hashanah to exalt God as King of the universe. God’s Kingdom covers all creation, all humanity. God’s kingdom is expressed in each of our lives and never so much as when we repent and return to God, who, like a loving father, waits and watches for us to appear as we make our way home.


Our God
And God of our ancestors
King of the Universe
We read in your Scriptures

God has been raised up in sound
In the voice of the shofar
For God is King over all the earth (Ps. 47)

We have sounded the shofar
We do not ask if you are close to us
For you are always present everywhere
and always to be found
But rather
Today we acknowledge
that we are not always close to you
and we do not always seek you

On this day
the beginning of a new year
With fear and trembling
I lift my voice
To you
King of Kings
Lord of Lords

You are the Creator of the Universe
Bringing to be everything that was, and is and ever shall be

You are the Redeemer of Israel
and through Israel the world

You are the Revealer of Justice
Who created us
out of love and forgiveness so that
We might love and forgive

On this day
Of coronation
Of remembering our beginning
Of celebrating your redemption
And of looking for your revelation

May you
the God of our exile and our homeland
Give us strength to acknowledge your reign
And begin again
our return and repentance.

Have compassion
I humbly ask
Sovereign God
On Israel
your people
On Jerusalem
your city
On Zion
the dwelling place of your glory
On the royal house of David
your anointed
On the great and holy House
that bears your name.

Let this new year be a new beginning
For Israel,
your people
For the world
you have made

King of the Universe
tend us
feed us

Sustain and support us
Relieve us and send relief
From all our troubles
Have compassion on us and deliver us
For our eyes are turned to you
Because you are God
Our gracious and compassionate King

Join the Conversation


  1. Thank you, Father Bill, for these beautiful words that call us to remember our Jewish brothers and sisters during their High Holy Days.

  2. Father Bill,
    Thank you for recognizing and celebrating our Jewish friends during there high holy days. The compassion of humanity extends beyond ourselves!

  3. A beautiful praise to God and blessing of our dear friends at Temple Beth El on Rosh Hashanah!
    I value the fact that we are now learning more about each other’s holidays and holy times.

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