Fourteen Prayers for Peace

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In 2009, President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, with a simple, moving speech. He spoke of the challenge of practicing peace, and of the concept of just war. And concluded:

The one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still reach for those ideals that will make the world a better place. Let us reach for the world that ought to be — that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls.

Insert cynicism here ______________.

Last Thursday and Friday, I led Rosh Hashanah services. When all was said and done, I offered at least fourteen formal prayers for peace. Peace prayers are consistent with the High Holiday theme of teshuvah, repentance and return. We as individuals can reflect, repent and change; so can a city, a country, a species, a world.

On Saturday, my youngest son said something about our cat and I realized: I hadn’t actually meant a word of these fourteen prayers for peace.

Last night, this 18-year-old young man left for Israel. For nine months, he will participate in a work-study program, Habonim-Dror Workshop. After nine summers at a Canadian Labor Zionist youth camp, he knows his movement politics. He supports Israeli left-wing causes, including economic justice, LGBTQ acceptance, and environmental preservation. He embraces Rabin’s vision of equal rights for Israeli Arabs and good-faith negotiation with Palestinians. He is prepared with ideology.

He will spend half the year at Kibbutz Ein Dor in Northern Israel. Eight hours before he left, my husband remarked, “Ein Dor is only 120 kilometres (74 miles) from Damascus.”

Our son looked up from playing with his kitten and said, “You know what is starting to stress me out? The kitten is so big now that when she climbs the upright mattress, it wobbles like it might fall. Will you take care of her while I’m gone?”

Posted on September 8, 2013
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