Notes from Judaism

Hannah Mothers Campaign takes its name and mission from the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:1-28. Hannah’s heartfelt prayer became, in rabbinic Judaism, THE model for all Jewish prayer. (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 30b; See also, e.g., My Jewish Learning).

The story of Hannah is included, as prophetic reading [haftora] on the New Year [Rosh Hashana].** Hannah’s appearance at the start of the new year, relinquishing her son into a world over which she has no direct control, can be a reminder to work for the protection of all our children, with a special focus on the vulnerability of our black and brown boys and men.

We are told in Pirkei Avot [Teachings of the Ancestors] that “the world stands on three things: Torah, service of God [“avodah,” translated as both “work” and “prayer”], and deeds of loving-kindness (Avot 1:2).” Pirkei Avot also reminds us that God is present whenever two or more share words of Torah or even when one individual so directs her heart. (Avot 3:3-7). A pertinent teaching from a contemporary prayer book sums up the basis for Hannah Mothers Campaign:

The world we build tomorrow is born in the prayer we say today.
— R. Jonathan Sacks, p.xxvii in The Koren Mesorat Harav Siddur
based on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik

Hannah Mothers Campaign represents a united national spiritual force through which we hope to accomplish the following spiritual goals:

  • To transform the day to day realities of Black, Brown men and boys to one that promotes, protects and empowers Black, Brown men and boys in all aspects of our society.
  • To build a spiritual wall of grace around the lives of Black, Brown men and boys to ensure their emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, so that they thrive and create from a space of collective-good-manifesting the very highest and best of their potential.

Our Spiritual Tools

  • Prayer and Torah study
  • Fasting
  • Affirmations
  • Meditation
  • Prayer Vigils and other gatherings

Hannah Mothers Campaign was launched in response to the teachings of our many separate faiths calling us to love our neighbors and work for their well-being.

If I am not for myself, who will be?
If I am for myself alone, what am I
And if not now, when?
— Hillel (Avot 1:14)


Participants of all faiths, religious traditions and practices (or lack thereof) are encouraged to join Hannah Mothers Campaign. For those who do not regularly engage in intercessory prayer, please adapt the materials here as suited to your practice. No-Buy Fridays — and related efforts as those are suggested and developed — may speak to those who wish to support the campaign from a more secular approach.

**And, therefore, commentaries abound. In recent years, teachers have focused on the pain of infertility, as well as age-old themes of prayer, spiritual struggle, creation, birth and service. Here are just two of the many contemporary sources: Velveteen Rabbi’s “Reading Hannah Anew” and “Sarah and Hannah: Two Models of Spiritual Struggle.”


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