“Baruch HaVaccine?” Rabbi prepares prayers for the vaccine

When Rabbi Lisa Gelber learned that the Food and Drug Administration had approved Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, she couldn’t wait for when her daughter would get the vaccine.

But she also knew that her daughter was afraid of needles. So she sat down with her daughter, Zahara, 11, and together they composed a kavanah, in Hebrew for intent, to reflect the gravity and gratitude with which they saw this milestone and to process the feelings her daughter had about the shot. .

“Saint of life and love, wrap me in a warm hug as I prepare to receive my COVID-19 vaccine,” the prayer begins. “I thank the doctors and scientists who are creators like you, for the wise people who approved the vaccine, and for everyone who made sure it was available to children.”

Gelber, the spiritual leader of the Habonim Congregation in New York City, shared the entire prayer on Facebook, where her friends and colleagues have been circulating it in anticipation of the possible availability of the vaccine to children as soon as the end of this week.

“It feels like a miraculous moment in time. What a gift that this next expansive cohort has access to a vaccine, “Gelber told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

When COVID-19 vaccines began in the United States in December 2020, there was much discussion about which Jewish blessing or prayer to recite upon receiving the injection. Several new prayers were even written specifically for that occasion, with many offering thanks to the scientists who created the vaccines.

Now, children ages 5 to 11 will be eligible to receive the COVID vaccine in the United States in the coming weeks, which could end a period in which parents have become concerned about the risks of activities as basic as shipping. a child to school or go to the playground. And the moment is being marked by a new series of Jewish prayers, with at least one, as in the case of Gelber and his daughter, even written by a child.

Gelber said her daughter wanted to thank the people who created the vaccine and noted her fear of needles. “The most moving thing for me was his gratitude for the opportunity to say a blessing that would ‘make me stronger’ and make him forget the pain,” he said.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland, draped in a prayer shawl, arrives for a court hearing arrives for a police investigation at a police station in Jerusalem on November 2, 2021 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL / FLASH90)

Rabbi Karen Reiss Medwed, assistant dean of Northeastern University Graduate School of Education, was first inspired to write a kavanah for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine several months ago when a nurse from her community spoke at her synagogue about the experience of being vaccinated. More recently, Medwed was inspired by his rabbi’s sermon to write a new kavanah specifically for parents to recite before their children are vaccinated.

“He spoke not just as a rabbi, but as a father, expressing the long-awaited relief as well as the deep religious sense of obligation that this next phase of vaccination would bring,” Medwed told JTA in an email, referring to Rabbi Joel. Levenson of the Midway Jewish Center in Syosset, New York. “There was no doubt that I had to compose something to recite, just as parents recite a little kavannah when having the zjut [merit] to come with your child to his bnai mitzvah. “

Medwed’s prayer expresses gratitude to God and those who developed the vaccines and, echoing the “shehecheyanu” prayer recited about a new experience, expresses the relief many parents feel at the opportunity to finally vaccinate their children.

With this vaccine, I let out the pause and the breath that I have been anxiously guarding for these long months, and I passionately affirm: Blessed are you, Adonai, Ruler of this Universe, who have given us life, have sustained us and brought us to this moment, and let’s all say: Amen ”, says the prayer.


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