Avinu Malkeinu

Jake chose to record the traditional refrain to Avinu Malkeinu, the powerful melody we sing on the High Holy Days that has an incredible amount of resonance for us today as we face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A-vi-nu mal-kei-nu, cho-nei-nu va-a-nei-nu, ki ein ba-nu ma-a-sim, a-sei i-ma-nu tse-da-kah va-che-sed ve-ho-shi-ei-nu.

Our Father, our King, be gracious and answer us, for we have little merit. Treat us generously and with kindness, and be our help.

In the words of Dr. Richard Sarason, a professor at HUC-JIR:

“It is an irony of history that the very language now so controversial in Avinu Malkeinu (namely, the masculine-gendered, hierarchical images of God as “Father” and “King”) is what made this prayerful appeal so distinctive and effective for its original users.

Avinu Malkeinu is a penitential litany. That means that it uses the (now problematic) refrain, “Our Father, our King,” repeatedly to invoke the gracious favor of a God who is conceived of as both distant and approachable, both stern and merciful; whose powerful nature can be portrayed as both Ruler and Parent toward the people Israel, who view themselves during the High Holy Day season as both dependent and unworthy of favor – “Deal with us graciously for Your own sake, since we can plead little merit before You.” Encapsulated here are the ambivalent feelings of we mortals toward the power in the world outside us over which we have uncertain or little control.”

To read Dr. Sarason’s whole article, click here.