A Creative Birkat HaGomel: A Community Responds with Gratitude to Escaping Danger

A Creative Birkat HaGomel: A Community Responds with Gratitude to Escaping Danger

by Rabbi Rick Brody

Yesterday, the community of students, staff, faculty, and families at the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy needed to engage in safety protocols after a potential danger was discovered in the school. Everyone is safe and life at Barrack is back to normal today. But before we made that transition back to normalcy, we needed to engage Jewish ritual to collectively express our gratitude and breathe a shared sigh of relief. The gomel prayer, usually recited after an aliyah to the Torah, is the traditional liturgy for one who has just escaped any kind of danger. This morning, separate assemblies for the full middle school and upper school– in which students were commended for the cooperation yesterday and reassured about their safety–concluded with the communal recitation of this interpretive version of the prayer, composed for this purpose. Those students who attend traditional minyanim then had the opportunity to participate in the formal ritual, but all members of the Barrack community were a part of creative reading. Here is the text (click here for separate page):

An Interpretive Birkat HaGomel

 You are blessed, Eternal One, and we pray that your blessings continue to grace us.

 We began our day yesterday like any other day, grateful for what we have and hoping for freedom from danger or worry. We ended the day surprised and even frightened. We have returned here this morning, beginning with gratitude for the release from that fear. This gratitude may surprise us. We have learned once again about how easy it is to take our safety for granted. This gratitude itself is a blessing. Thank you, Source of Blessing, for opening our hearts to new gratitude, which we express together:

 To the sovereign source of protection:

(Together) We are grateful.

To the administration, staff, and faculty of our school, who responded swiftly and with care:

      We are grateful.

To our brave law-enforcement officers who came to us rapidly to ensure our safety:

      We are grateful.

To all our students, who followed instructions and cooperated to remain safe:

      We are grateful.

To our parents and loved ones, who offered us support and comfort in a time of uncertainty:

      We are grateful.

We are all chayavim–obligated, indebted.

      We are obligated.

We have placed our trust in so many beyond ourselves who work tirelessly to keep us safe.

We are indebted.

We are all chayavim.

We are all responsible.

We look out for one another and make sure our community is safe. Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh bazeh.

      All Israel is responsible for one another.

We have been the recipients of blessings.

            We are blessed with safety.

We have been the recipients of goodness.

Let our school continue to be a force for good.

May we continue to be blessed in these ways and more.

May we know only good fortune and safety as we find ways to praise you and our world.


Baruch ata adonai eloheinu melech haolam, hagomel lachayavim tovot she’g’malani kol tov.

Amen. Mi she’g’malcha kol tov, hu yigmolcha kol tov, selah.


2 responses to “A Creative Birkat HaGomel: A Community Responds with Gratitude to Escaping Danger

  1. Yasher Koach! A beautiful rendition of a needed ritual.

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