(Yes, I generally get the phrasing right; no, it's not 100% rigorous with all the third-level disjunctives and such, per Jacobson et al. ASL has attempted to cantillate it more precisely. The problem is that pazeir doesn't exist in Eicha trope; all the pesukim in the book of Eicha are too short for it ever to come up. Also, making it possible to chant this in unison with other people who are just reading it requires liberal use of the makaf.)
Last week, "citizens of all races and creeds ... banish[ed] all hatred and bigotry." WHEEEE!!!!!!!!! A number of people have asked me whether I would continue chanting this prayer in Eicha trope. For now, the answer is no. That doesn't mean that I think that everything is suddenly better due to a mere election result. The Democratic majority hasn't even taken office yet! But it does mean that I no longer think that it is a tefilah lashav to even think about the possibility of change. This past Shabbat, the first since the election, I was visiting a minyan in a city where Bush placed third in 2000, and when we got to this prayer, there was a sudden groundswell of enthusiasm throughout the room, as people read the words as if for the first time, filled with hope that this country could indeed be "an influence for good throughout the world".
Now I'll just have to turn my attention to other pressing questions about this prayer, such as:
- At minyanim that otherwise pray entirely in Hebrew, why are we saying this prayer and only this prayer in English?
- At minyanim that identify as non-denominational (viz. Hadar and its progeny), why are we using a specific version of this prayer that is otherwise exclusive to the Conservative movement?
- Why are we saying petitionary prayers on Shabbat?
- Why only "citizens"?
- "...ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of our country"!