Rabbi Rick Sherwin's Prayer for Juneteenth

Posted on: Friday June 18, 2021

By Rabbi Rick Sherwin


All-Embracing God,

July 4, 1776 – You gave wisdom to our country

To fulfill Your command:

“Proclaim liberty throughout the Land

To all of its inhabitants”


And the insight to create a country

With the words “We the People”


We are still waiting.


January 1, 1863 – You gave our President the courage

To release those fettered in slavery

To free the body, the spirit, the mind

With these words:

“All persons held as slaves are and henceforward shall be free…

The Executive government and [military]

Will recognize and maintain the freedom…

[that] they shall labor faithfully for reasonable wages.”


We are still waiting.


June 19, 1865 – You gave joy to the racially enslaved in Galveston, Texas

To hear and be witness to General Order 3

Confirming the Emancipation Proclamation

Guaranteeing the freedom of all who were enslaved

With “absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property…”

“Absolute equality”

The divisive Civil War was over

But was divisiveness really over?

We are still waiting


May 17, 1954 – You gave insight to the Supreme Court

To see that “separate but equal”

Violates the 14th Amendment

That separation anything but equal

In the world of education,

In areas of public access, in the arena judicial protection

With separation there is no equality.


The law is firm.

We are still waiting.


June 19, 2021 – You ennobled our unanimous Senate

To extend the message of release, liberty, equality

Not to “us” and “them” but to “we”,

Not separate, only equal

Regardless of skin color and ethnic origin.

We look forward to the day when

There will be “liberty and justice for all”

The day when You sit back and smile as we say

We are no longer waiting.