Rabbi Naomi Levy is well known for penning beautiful prayers in response to a given milestone or crisis. Her second book, “Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration,” which is due to be reissued next year for the 18th anniversary of its publication, is a collection of prayers that is spontaneous in spirit. The book was an instant bestseller and inspired people of all faiths and ages to pray using Levy’s words.

Levy recently spoke to JewishBoston in anticipation of her virtual appearance at the Metrowest Tikkun Leil Shavuot. In the light of prayer, Levy experiences the Shavuot holiday as an ongoing event. “Whether it’s prayer or Torah study, Shavuot is a time of receptivity,” she said. “We call it the time of the giving of the Torah. That giving happened once, but receiving the Torah is for all time. In my prayer writing, I’m always trying to share with people that this relationship with the Torah is ongoing.”

Levy also connects our new mode of virtual worship to the Book of Ruth. Ruth, she noted, was not Jewish but realized she could have a relationship with God and the Jewish people. “Ruth wanted to step inside that circle,” she said. “I’m now seeing how many Jews want to be inside the circle of online worship, many of whom haven’t stepped inside of a sanctuary in years. They want to step inside virtual circles of faith and support.”

For this final installment of “The Coronavirus Diaries,” I present three of Levy’s poems written for this pandemic.


“A Prayer of Hope During This Pandemic”
By Rabbi Naomi Levy

We are frightened, God,
Worried for our loved ones,
Worried for our world.
Helpless and confused,
We turn to You
Seeking comfort, faith and hope.
Teach us, God, to turn our panic into patience,
And our fear into acts of kindness and support.
Our strong must watch out for our weak,
Our young must take care of our old.
Help each one of us to do our part to halt the spread of this virus
Send strength and courage to the doctors and nurses
In the frontlines of this battle,
Fortify them with the full force of their healing powers.
Send wisdom and insight to the scientists
Working day and night across the world to discover healing treatments.
Bless their efforts, God.
Fill our leaders with the wisdom and the courage
To choose wisely and act quickly.
Help us, God, to see that we are one world,
One people
Who will rise above this pandemic together.
Send us health, God,
Watch over us,
Grace us with Your love,
Bless us with Your healing light.
Hear us, God,
Heal us, God,

“A Prayer for Doctors and Nurses to Offer When a COVID-19 Patient Dies”
By Rabbi Naomi Levy

We are so sad
That despite our best efforts
We were not able to save you.
Although your family could not be here with you
You did not die alone.
We honor you
For your loved ones.
You did not die in vain.
Thank you for giving us insights today
That will help us heal others tomorrow.
We entrust your soul now
To the Soul of Souls.
May you find peace in God’s shelter.
Your life has ended
But your light can never be extinguished.
May it continue to shine
And illuminate the way.
Rest in peace.

“For Heaven’s Sake We Pray From Home as One: A Prayer for Patience and Restraint”
By Rabbi Naomi Levy

We miss our sanctuary
The comfort of community
Our voices joined together in prayer,
But for heaven’s sake
We pray from home
As one
For grandmothers and grandfathers
For mothers and fathers
For aunts and uncles
For the vulnerable and the frail
For this is God’s prayer:
Be safe, my children
Your touch
Your hug
Your breath
Your song
Can cost lives right now.
It’s tragic and heartbreaking,
But we will keep our sanctuaries closed
To stem this pandemic.
Your patience is praise
Your restraint is glory.
So reach out with all your heart
Join soul to soul
With a mighty love
That transcends all distance.
Take it in
Waves of blessings
Hands to heaven
We pray from home
As One
And God says,