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My Idea: Practice Inclusive Prayer

Dear God, Bless this food before us, bless each of us, guide us as we come and go today. We ask this in the name of Jesus.

How often have we Jews attended an interfaith function and appreciated the message—until the final sentence? And, how often—putting ourselves in the minds of non-Jews—have we winced while listening to a rabbi pray in Hebrew at a community-wide function?

This, however, was not the reality when Lynn Stahl, president of the Thrive Well Cancer Foundation and the wife of Rabbi Sam Stahl, stood before the 500 assembled guests at a city-wide luncheon supporting the foundation and prayed aloud:

God of Abraham, God of Jesus, God of Muhammed, and God of one who claims no God, we gather to thank You today for the abundance of food which will nourish our bodies, as well as for the limitless blessings of the ThriveWell Cancer Foundation.

In 17 words—God of Abraham, God of Jesus, God of Muhammed and God of one who claims no God—Lynn sought to embrace every member of her audience. A prayer that honored individual differences resonated throughout the room.

I hope that whenever each of us is called upon to deliver a blessing at an interfaith function, we create and deliver a prayer such as Lynn’s. A few words can exemplify, powerfully, inclusiveness at its ideal.

—Janet Alyn, a third generation member of Temple Beth-El in San Antonio, Texas


Union for Reform Judaism.