This week Adam Martin, community director at Alyth (North Western Reform Synagogue), selects Hashkiveinu

Desert Island TextsIn times of crisis, films and TV programmes can offer an escape as well as a prism through which we might make sense of the world around us. I love the American political drama The West Wing. Talking with friends recently, we discussed how the programme might reflect and explore issues around the current events in Israel and Gaza.

I recalled a scene where the character of Toby is speaking to his rabbi. In the background, we hear the synagogue’s cantor practising ‘Hashkiveinu’. It is the words of this prayer that caught my attention. ‘Hashkiveinu’ is an evening prayer, one frequently said at bedtime, where we ask for the ability to lie down in peace at night and to return to life the following morning.

For many of us, this is not always so easy. It is often difficult for us to disconnect from the demands and especially the worries of life. I often go to bed thinking about work. I can only imagine what it must be like going to sleep in an altogether much more worrying environment. ‘Hashkiveinu’ is more than just a meditation to help us get to sleep.

It offers guidance on how to spend our conscious hours: guide us with Your good counsel, and save us for the sake of Your name. Remove the temptation that awaits us and the guilt that lies behind us. The prayer urges us to find shelter in the support of friends and family, while asking that we remain open to the world and responsive to the needs of others.

May we always be surrounded by those from whom we can seek comfort and, in difficult times, remain responsive to the needs of others, no matter who they may be.