Like many of us, I woke up this morning to the horror of more bloodshed in Jerusalem. Just before turning to my own morning meditation I found out about the murder of men wrapped in prayer shawls inside a sacred sanctuary turned into a crime scene. Prayers, silenced, becoming victims of terror, mundane morning turning into mourning. Again.
First thing – call my parents, make sure relatives and friends are ok. One of the slain rabbis was the husband of a distant cousin. My mother, sad and angry, stayed at home today. It’s safer.
Already the blame and the rage is cycling again online and on the streets. The two Palestinians who shot and hacked are dead as well and the homes of the families will be demolished, as arrests and riots spill into the streets of Jerusalem and beyond, adding to recent rise in violence, terror attacks, killing of civilians on both sides, burning of mosques and silencing of hopes. The Temple Mount looms tragically over this recent wave of attacks – the sacred eye of the storm.
So many are grieving tonight.
How to respond? I’ve been asked to join a protest in front of the PLO mission, to sign a petition, to condemn and to comment.
But I want to pray. I want to take back that sacred space that was bloodied today by frustrated rage and fury and reclaim the power of prayer to try and make sense of this senseless, hopeless reality.
Not because I’m sure that prayers matter, that there is a deity listening to psalms and petitions. Where was God this morning in that shul?
But because it’s the coming together of the prayers – we, the people – that matters most, in song and silence, in communion with the mystery of life and death, consolation, compassion, healing and hope.
Prayer is my protest. This week more than ever.
I invite you to join me this coming Saturday, at Lab/Shul’s monthly Shabbat morning worship event, to stand with me in humble and honest hopes for peace.
The weekly story of the Torah is about the struggle between two brothers who turn others – Esau and Jacob, then and now, transcend the mythic into our news feed with the chilling demand for each of us to see our face in the face of the other – on our path, at all costs, towards compassion, change – and peace.
We will chant the mourners Kaddish and be silent honoring the victims of terror.We’ll yet again recite the Mothers Prayer for Peace – composed this past summer by two mothers – Jewish and Muslim spiritual leaders. We will once again light a candle for peace.
We will learn this story of brotherhood together and find ways to transcend the terrible rift. Adults and kids, we will sanctify a winery, our temporary temple, as a holy hub, nourish our souls together, present for each other’s grief and worry, needs and hopes, grateful for what’s worthy of our gratitude.
I want to stand in prayer with all who still believe in peace, regardless of political perspective, faith, or view. Beyond the borders and familiar lines of affiliation – let’s transcend suspicious fear, together.
Just today, at JTS, I was present at the launch of a brave new book that celebrates the power of peaceful co-existence.
is designed to assist and enhance Jewish-Muslim interactions and dialogue. The book is available in hard copy and as a free PDF.
I believe that our brotherhood will once again be healed, and that our prayers, on this day so soiled hollow, will yet echo in all holy halls of hope.
May all memory become blessings. Let all those who grieve be consoled and cared for and healed.May we live to see much better days.
Peace. Shalom. Salaam.