A Prayer for Shmita

Alissa Bernholc

About Alissa Bernholc

I have been interested in biology and the environment since I was a teenager, and was even a crewmember of the Sloop Clearwater for a week when I was 16. Since I have never been good at laboratory work, I pursued an MPH in Biostatistics from Columbia University School of Public Health. I now work as a biostatistician at an NGO, but my passion is still biology and environment. Since I have written poetry sporadically since childhood, I satisfy that passion by researching and then writing poetry about biology as a hobby. I feel a strong connection to Jewish people around the world and love learning about our many cultures.

About A Prayer for Shmita

During Shmita, we let the earth rest. We no longer work it. Rest is a time of healing and restoration. Today the earth has so much to heal from: climate change, pollution, extinctions, loss of habitats. This is a fervent prayer that our resting of the earth will bring about recovery and renewal.

Cerulean sky imbues the day. Sky glow suffuses the night.

Help us capture clean energy to keep it clear.

May our planet be purified from our rest.


The seething and surging of the sea awes me.

Help us sweep the seas of synthetics.

May the world recover from our rest.


The vast verdant forests fill me with hope.

Let your garden re-emerge from the havoc of harvesters. Let the wild ones return.

May the earth be revived from our rest.


I marvel at the magnificence of massive mountains.

After mountaintop removal, let streams flow again with clear water. Let plantings reclaim pinnacles in Your praise.

May the earth be rebuilt from our rest.


Colorful coral gardens grow around continents.

Let embedded resilient coral on skeletons of ravaged reefs bloom, unbleached.

May the earth fortify from our rest.


Forests of mangroves, fields of sea grass and kelp protect our coasts, shelter sea creatures, and absorb carbon.

Help the projects to replant and protect coastlines prosper.

May the earth be preserved from our rest.


The icy fortress of Antarctica looms secluded.

Help us keep the resolutions that protect pristine environments from our feet.

May the earth be healed from our rest.


Loneliness and isolation end when men reach out in friendship and respect.

Help us build empathy for each other and all life.

May the earth be resplendent from our rest.


The earth is full of your power, goodness, and beauty.

Our rest reveals that only our arrogance makes us feel in control. Each life has value.

If we forgive all debts and transgressions, will You forgive us?

May we merit your loving kindness, and may the world be renewed from our rest.