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“Invocation for State of the City,” Rabbi Zecher’s Shabbat Awakenings

January 12, 2024 | 2 Sh’vat 5784

Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat and this week, particularly, our Shabbat of Justice, Shabbat Tzedek. You can listen to it as a podcast here.

Mayor Michelle Wu invited me to offer the Invocation at the State of the City this past Tuesday night, along with three other faith leaders, Iman Abdulqadir Farah, Father John Currie, and Reverend Laura Reyes. It was my honor to stand with them and to offer this invocation which I share with you.

Look around,
Here, we sit together and yet,
we are a cacophonous harmony
created by our diversity.
Our synergistic cooperation makes us
only as good and powerful and strong
as the sum of our individual parts.
Separate, we are solitary.
Together, we are bound by the bond of
the energy of humanity
that moves through us all.

How can it be,
Jewish tradition ponders, (Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5)
that the various origin stories of our respective traditions
suggest we come from that particular human
and therefore should all be the same.
How is it possible that we are not all alike
made in the image of the divine through
the sacred act of creation?

Yet we are not all alike.
We have different perspectives, understandings,
ways of seeing the world.
We are a beautiful
cacophonous harmony created by our diversity.

With the same eyes, we cry and the same voices we laugh,
as the poet has said. (Yehuda Amichai)
You and me, us and them,
the combination of our hearts and minds
shared across humanity,
and the dignity of our differences
celebrate our uniqueness in the universe.

Receive us, O Loving Presence of Eternity,
hold our hearts and our souls
as the most precious
commodity of humanity.

Embrace each of us, Holy One of Blessing,
and allow all of us to create the strength
of the bond that unites us
for the universal purpose
to ensure compassion, justice, and kindness.

Make our lives, O God,
the best we can be
to do the sacred work
for the welfare of our city,
state, and country
with the one, beautiful life we all share.

Shabbat Shalom

I continue to value the many comments you exchange with me through these Shabbat Awakenings. Share with me what you think here. Your email goes directly to me!


  • We come together as a community to celebrate Shabbat Tzedek at 6:00 p.m. on ZoomFacebook Live, or stream on our websiteOur community looks forward to welcoming Imari Paris Jeffries, PhD, CEO and President of Embrace Boston. We encourage you to bring shelf stable food items for the Greater Boston Food Bank.
  • Shabbat Mishpachah gathers onsite at  5:15 p.m.
  •  Torah Study and Storytelling for Justice gathers onsite or online at 9:00 a.m.
  • Riverway Havdalah gathers at 7:00 p.m. Register here.
  • Gather online to say goodbye to Shabbat with a lay-led Havdalah on Zoom at 8:00 p.m.
  • 9:00 a.m. We join our neighbors at Bethel AME Church, 38 Walk Hill Street, Jamaica Plain for a Sunday worship service followed by a fellowship coffee hour.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Elaine Zecher