Second-Year Commemoration of January 6, 2021

In the United States, we recently passed the second year anniversary of the events of January 6, 2021, when people from all over the country came armed to Washington, D.C. and interfered with the lawful and peaceful transition of power by storming the U.S. Capitol building. The mob was seeking to keep then President Trump in power by preventing a joint session of Congress from counting the electoral college votes to formalize the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. Over 2,000 of the mob entered the Capitol and occupied it, vandalized it, and looted it. Five people died either shortly before, during, or following the event; many people were injured, including 138 police officers. Four officers who responded to the attack killed themselves within seven months. Monetary damages caused by attackers was extensive. More than 975 people have been charged with offenses, and some 474 have to date pleaded guilty.
The shocking events have caused many to worry about the strength or fragility of our democracy.
The Jewish community has flourished in the United States because of the freedoms its affords all of its citizens, and we have a stake in its continuance as a democracy. So we joined with our fellow Americans to commemorate that day, and to reflect upon the nature of citizenship and democracy.
This commemoration was held during our Shabbat services on January 7, 2021. It was conceived and put together by Rabbi Sacks. Because of technical issues, we are not able to provide the video with the Rabbi’s introduction. What follows is, in any event, the text of the commemoration.

(Ritual conceived of/conducted by Rabbi J.B. Sacks on January 7, 2023)



(Mosh ben Ari; E: Ely Bonder, adapted by J.B. Sacks)


Od yavo shalom aleinu  (3x)                            Peace will fall like rain upon us  (3x)      

v’al kulam  (both lines, x2)                         And on all of the world  (both lines, x2)


Salaam, aleinu v’al kol ha’olam,    Salaam–

shalom and salaam are like one

salaam, salaam  (both lines, x2)            salaam–salaam  (both lines, x2)


 May it be Your will, HaShem, that, as we recall the events of and surrounding January 6, 2021, You help us to become like our ancestor Aaron, who loved peace and pursued peace.

By recalling January 6 and the values of our tradition,

we commit to being full members of society,

to accepting our individual responsibility for the good of the whole. May we place over ourselves officials in all our gates…

who will judge the people with righteousness. (Deut 16:18)

Open our eyes to see the Image of G!d

in all candidates and elected officials,

and may they see the image of G!d

in all of our citizens and all living and working here.


May they see their mission

to work together for the common good.

May we all merit to be counted

among those who work faithfully for the well-being of all. Amen.


Thoughts on Citizenship, Peace, and Unity

(Compiled by Rabbi J.B. Sacks)


Nothing has ever been decided by war

that could not be decided without it;

and if decided after war, why not before?

(General Ulysses S. Grant,1822-1885, 18th U.S. President)


Most quarrels are inevitable at the time;

incredible afterwards.

(E.M. Forster, 1879-1970, British author and critic)


A fanatic is a person who does what they think God would do

if only God knew the facts of the case.

(Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936), journalist and humorist)


In a time of social fragmentation,

vulgarity becomes a way of life.

To be shocking becomes more important—

and often more profitable—

than to be civil or creative or truly original.

                (Al Gore, b. 1948, 45th Vice President of the U.S.)


Intimidation, harassment, and violence

have no place in a democracy.

(Mo Ibrahim, b. 1946, Sudanese-British businessman and billionaire)


[True] patriots always talk of dying for their country

and never of killing for their country.

(Bertrand Russell,1872-1970, British philosopher and social critic)


America will never be destroyed from the outside.

If we falter and lose our freedoms,

it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

(Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865, 16th President of the U.S.)


Some people believe they are thinking

when they are only rearranging their prejudices.

(Henry James,1843-1916, author and literary critic)


You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.

(Booker Taliferro Washington, 1856-1915, educator and author)


Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice

of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos.

      (George W. Bush, b. 1946, 43th U.S. President, Inauguration Address)


Who is a hero?

The one who turns an enemy into a friend.

(Avot d’Rabbi Natan 23, c. 800 C.E.)


Understanding is the wealth of wealth.        (Arab proverb)

All people smile in the same language.       (The Christian Athlete)


I tell my grandchildren

that people come in as many flavors and colors as ice cream,

and we would be silly not to enjoy the differences.

(Paul C. Johnson)


A genuine conversation means

stepping out of the I

and knocking on the door of the You.

(Albert Camus, 1913-1960, existentialist/absurdist philosopher)


What is hateful to oneself do not do to another.

That is the whole Torah;

the rest is Commentary.

(Hillel, ancient Jewish religious leader, c.110 B.C.E.-10 C.E.)


Times have changed since diplomats could sit around a table

and divide up the world for a hundred years to come.

Peace is not the product of a single conference,

but rather of continuous conversation.

(Adlai Ewing Stevenson II, 1900-1965, statesman)


Consensus is what many people say in chorus but do not believe as individuals.

(Abba Eban, 1915-2002, Deputy Prime Minister of Israel)


All of us in our present civilization

are dependent upon one another

to a degree never before known in human history,

and, in the long run, we are going to go up or down together.

   (Theodore Roosevelt, 1858-1919, soldier, conservationist, 26th U.S. President)


We may have all come on different ships,

but we’re in the same boat now.

          (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1929-1968, leader, Civil Rights Movement)


This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in

unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.

(Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president, 1858-1919)


If you don’t believe in working together,

watch what happens to a wagon when one wheel comes off.                               (American proverb)

We must all live together as brothers or perish alone as fools.”

          (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1929-1968, leader, Civil Rights Movement)


A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

(Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865, 16th President of the U.S.)


Rabban Shim’on ben Gamli-el taught:

“The world rests on three things:

on justice, on truth and on peace.”


Rabbi Muna taught,

“These are one and the same:

for if there is justice, there is truth;

and if there is truth, there is peace.

(Perek Ha-Shalom, post-10th century)


“Seek peace and pursue it.”       (Psalm 34:14)


Peace cannot be kept by force.

It can only be achieved by understanding.

      (Albert Einstein,1879-1955, theoretical physicist, Nobel Prize recipient)



Two cheers for democracy: one because it admits variety

and two because it permits criticism.

     (E.M. Forster, 1879-1970, English novelist and essayist)


Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice,

speak out–because this is your country.

This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.

 (Thurgood Marshall, 1908-1993, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court)


“The opposite of good is not evil,

the opposite of good is indifference.

In a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

         (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1907-1992, philosopher)


Nobody makes a greater mistake

than he who does nothing

because he could do only a little.

        (Edmund Burke, 1729-1797, statesman, economist, and philosopher)


Since the days of Greece and Rome,

when the word ‘citizen’ was a title of honor,

we have often seen more emphasis

put on the rights of citizenship

than on its responsibilities.

(Robert Kennedy, 1925-1968, U.S. Attorney General, U.S. Senator)


“Citizenship is the chance to make a difference

to the place where you belong.”

(Charles Handy. b. 1932, Irish author and philosopher)


There is nothing wrong in America

that can’t be fixed with what is right in America.

(Bill Clinton, b. 1946, 42nd President of the U.S.)


The best way to enhance freedom in other lands is to demonstrate here that our democratic system is worthy of emulation.

(Jimmy Carter, b. 1924, 39th President of the U.S.)


A healthy democracy requires a decent society; it requires

that we are honorable, generous, tolerant and respectful.

              (Charles W. Pickering, b. 1937, attorney, jurist, Judge of U.S. Court of Appeals)


The chief value of history, if it is critically studied,

is to break down the illusion that people are very different.

(Leo Stein, 1861-1921, playwright and librettist)



When we let G!d into ourselves

we open our hearts to a world

where we see others made like us

in the common image of Divinity.


The ancient Jews were told by their lawgiver Moses

to remember the stranger;

this was a challenge to them

to build a future world

where nobody would be a stranger.

(Rabbi Charles E. Shulman, 1900-1968, attorney)


The ancient Romans regarded bridge-building as a sacred pursuit.

That is evident from the name they gave to the priest,

whom they called “pontifex,”

which means “bridge-builder.”


A bridge unites those whom nature divides.

Can there be a more sacred function in life?

(Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, 1881-1983, philosopher, educator)


Prayer for Our Country

O Holy One of Blessing, let Your blessing pour out on this land,

and on all officials of this country who are occupied, in good faith,

with the public need.


Guide them.

Enable them to understand Your principles of justice,

so that peace and tranquility, happiness and freedom,

might never turn away from our land.


Source of Wisdom, waken your spirit within all inhabitants of our land, and plant among Americans of different nationalities and faiths,

love and brotherhood, peace and friendship.


Uproot from all of our hearts hatred and enmity,

all contention and vying for supremacy.


Fulfill our desire to see our country be a light to all nations,

a blessing to our planet.


Fulfill Your prophet’s vision: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Let them no longer learn ways of war.”

And we all say, “Amen.”


 Olam Chesed Yibaneh

(Rabbi Menachem Creditor, from Psalm 89:3)

 Olam chesed yibaneh–yai dai dai dai dai… (4x)

I will build this world on love–yai dai dai dai dai…

And you must build this world on love–yai dai dai dai dai…

If we build this world on love–yai dai dai dai dai dai…

Then G!d will build this world on love–yai dai dai dai dai…

(Olam chesed….)