In his Yom Kippur Anthology, Philip Goodman comments on the following prayer:
In 1935, when anti-Semitism was clearly evident throughout Germany, Rabbi Leo Baeck (1873 – 1956), who was president of the representative organization of German Jewry, wrote a prayer that was distributed to all rabbis in the country for reading at Kol Nidre services. When the Nazis found a copy of the text, they arrested Rabbi Baeck and placed him in an S.S. prison. This prayer, which the Nazis had prohibited on Yom Kippur in 1935 was made a part of the trial record of Adolf Eichmann that took place in Jerusalem in 1961.
We Stand Before Our God
Rabbi Leo Baeck
In this hour all Israel stands before God, the judge and the forgiver.
In his presence, let us all examine our ways, our deeds, and what we have failed to do.
Where we transgressed let us openly confess: “We have sinned!” and, determined to return to God, let us pray: “Forgive us.”
We stand before our God.
With the same fervor with which we confess our sins, the sins of the individual and the sins of the community, do we, in indignation and abhorrence, express our contempt for the lies concerning us and the defamation of our religion and its testimonies.
We have trust in our faith and in our future.
Who made known to the world the mystery of the Eternal, the one God?
Who imparted to the world the comprehension of purity of conduct and purity of family life?
Who taught the world respect for man, created in the image of God?
Who spoke of the commandment of righteousness, of social justice?
In all this we see manifest the spirit of the prophets, the divine revelation of the Jewish people. It grew out of our Judaism and is still growing. By these facts we repel the insults flung at us.
We stand before our God. On him we rely. From him issues the truth and the glory of our history, our fortitude amidst all the changes of fortune, our endurance in distress.
Our history is a history of nobility of soul, of human dignity. It is history we have recourse to when attack and grievous wrong are directed against us, when affliction and calamity befall us.
God has led our fathers from generation to generation. He will guide us and our children through these days.
We stand before our God, strengthened by his commandment that we fulfill. We bow to him and stand erect before men. We worship him and remain firm in all our vicissitudes. Humbly we trust in him and our path lies clear before us; we see our future.
All Israel stands before her God in this hour. In our prayers, in our hope, in our confession, we are one with all Jews on earth. We look upon each other and know who we are; we look up to our God and know what shall abide.
“Behold, he that keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Psalm 121:4).
“May he who makes peace in his heights make peace upon us and upon all Israel.”