I recently had the honor and privilege of ordaining, along with my colleagues, a new cohort of rabbis from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University. I'd like to share the invocation I delivered, a cherished opportunity to invite God into our sacred moment.
"Me, I will always side with hope -- and never cease to adorn you with praise. My mouth strives to speak of your justness, of the constant potential you provide for redemption, though surely my words will always be incomplete." (Psalm 71:14-15)
Adonai Ro-iy, God, who sees what we so often cannot:
We thank you for bringing us to this very moment. One eternally imagined but never previously before experienced -- just like this.
We thank you for our God-given capacity to dream of sacred gatherings -- such as this one -- and we thank you for the dedicated people who toil to ensure they happen.
We praise you, God, for providing a world in which the only true hierarchy begins with you and immediately ends, equally, with each one of us. In here, out there, everywhere.
We praise you, God, for entering this world as pure dynamism, a lofty example of our own potential to endlessly demonstrate that uniqueness is Godliness, that diversity is both sanctified and sanctifying.
We praise you for giving each of us the inner strength to know that the only authentic measure of "likes" in this world is that which we can feel in you and your great name. Almost anything else is fleeting, a distraction, a mere illusion.
Thank you, God, for blessing us with teachers for teachers, clergy for clergy and healers for healers. We have come to know that your Torah, our gift, permeates only in so much as its infinite depth is refracted through those who live it, embody it, and carefully deliver it as a soulful script.
We thank you, God, for the courageous hearts of people, such as these to be ordained tonight, who love you deeply and are motivated by that love to live lives of service. On your behalf and on our behalf.
We ask of you, God, to help us help you in supporting them -- each with precisely what they need -- as they take leave from the warm, rigorous, embracing and complicated shelter of the Ziegler School -- to teach, to preach, and to spread Torah in a world that so desperately depends on ancient wisdom coupled with modern, textured, truth. Please bless their hands with conviction, compassion, courage and reasonably thick skin.
We also ask you to also to bless this holy community to always remember that our role as Jews in this world is to elevate you and your Torah by providing religious meaning to chaos, by seeing, like you, precisely what goes unnoticed, by uplifting those who are fallen, and by gathering closely those who are marginalized -- whether it be by others or whether they sideline themselves -- for we know not what is in their hearts unless we stand in their presence, they in ours.
May God grant strength to all God's people; May God bless humanity with peace (Psalm 29).