Coping with this Alarming Presidential Campaign

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During this year’s Yom Kippur services, I found several prayers particularly timely and compelling.  Three of them, titled “Failures in Truth,” “Failures in Justice,” and  “Failures in Love,” jumped off the pages of the prayer book.  They spoke to me, not only as an individual, but also as one of many American citizens troubled by the this Presidential campaign and the responses to it.  If we could only live by these words of wisdom, wisdom spoken by many faith traditions, we would be a more peaceful people and a stronger democracy and nation.

What do you think?


We sin against You when we sin against ourselves.
For the failures of truth, O God, we ask forgiveness.

For passing judgement without knowledge of the facts,
and for distorting facts to fit our theories.

For deceiving ourselves and others with half-truths,
and for pretending to emotions we do not feel.

For using the sins of others to excuse our own,
and for denying responsibility for our own misfortunes.

For condemning in our children the faults we tolerate in ourselves,
and for condemning in our parents the faults that we tolerate in ourselves.


We sin against You when we sin against ourselves.
For our failures of justice, O God, we ask forgiveness.

For using violence to maintain our power.
and for using violence to bring about change.

For waging aggressive war,
and for the sin of appeasing aggressors.

For obeying criminal orders,
and for the sin of silence and indifference.

For poisoning the air, and polluting land and sea,
and for all the evil means we employ to accomplish good ends.


We sin against You when we sin against ourselves.
For the failures of love, O God, we ask forgiveness.

For confusing love with lust,
and for pursuing fleeting pleasure at the cost of lasting hurt.

For using others as a means to gratify our desires,
and as stepping stones to further our ambitions.

For withholding love to control those we claim to love,
and shunning those whose youth or age disturbs us.

For hiding from others behind an armor of mistrust,
and for the cynicism which leads us to mistrust the reality of unselfish love.

These passages are excerpts from the Gates of Repentance Revised Edition, Yom Kippur morning service, pages 327-329, published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1996. These readings also appear in the High Holy Day liturgy edited by the Classical Reform congregation, Central Reform Temple in Boston, Massachusetts.

Central Conference of American Rabbis Press





  • Merle Marquis
    October 18, 2016, 2:41 pm  Reply

    These are very meaningful and timeless. The prayers speak to me and give me hope that in recognizing our failures we can and will do better to do the good we are put on this earth to do.

    Thank you for posting these prayers. The wisdom of these prayers should speak to all daily.

    • October 21, 2016, 12:18 pm

      You are welcome. I agree that these words are timeless.

      When I find readings and prayers like these that speak to me and inspire me, I put them is a special folder. There, I can easily find them and reread them.

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