Prayers for a Peaceful Shabbat

I have started to write this blog posting three times over the past week and each time, I found myself at a loss for what to say.

The horrific, brutal murder of 5 men in the Jerusalem synagogue terrorist attack of Monday is first and foremost a terrible human tragedy. My thoughts and prayers for comfort go to the families of those who were so ruthlessly killed and our hopes for a refuah shlayma, a complete recovery for those who were wounded. There are no sufficient words to describe the horror of this attack.

The context of this act of terror and random violence is also so very troubling. As I have written in this blog and said from the bima, the framing of the ongoing conflict in religious terms is so deeply, deeply worrisome. The focus of attention on the Temple Mount and the perception that Israel wishes to change the carefully crafted status quo has fostered additional anger among Palestinians. This status quo which is based on compromise and hopes for mutual respect must continue and Israeli officials must do all that they can to prevent even the smallest of provocative acts concerning the Temple Mount area and Palestinian leaders must try to restore calm and reject and prevent violence. The leaders must, at least in this one area, publicly work together to make it clear that this status quo will continue.

But, that alone will not stop the cycle of violence.

I have never been as pessimistic about the possibility of a peaceful solution to the conflict as I am at this moment in time. Israel’s legitimate deep concern for its own survival and security and the Palestinians’ legitimate goal of self-determination and an end to the occupation seem now to be so at odds with each other that it is difficult to imagine any solution. The fear, the anger, the suspicion have never seemed so deeply entrenched.

But, Shabbat is a time for hope.We can not give up hope even if that hope is fading so dramatically.

May this Shabbat bring some small measure of quiet and calm in Jerusalem. May we see some small progress in cooperation and compassion. May people throughout Jerusalem and throughout the region recognize the humanity of the other and may the new week bring new hope.

May all who love Jerusalem pray for her peace on this Shabbat.

Blessed be are You O Lord Our God who spreads the Sukkah of peace over Jerusalem, the city of peace, the city of dreams, the city of reaching out to God. May all people find peace, wisdom and humanity coming from the holy city.

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