Here are two prayers for peace, prayers for a better world in the light of a new peace initiative between Israel and Palestinians announced this weekend. These may be the two most naïve prayers I’ve written. Perhaps that makes them remarkably hopeful, an attempt to look for a future that seems difficult to reach at best, impossible to imagine at worst: a future of complete peace in the Middle East for all nations and all peoples. The first, “For the People of the Middle East,” is a new prayer written today in response to the announcement, recognizing that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just one part of a complex peace puzzle. It has a broader focus, encompassing all places of war and strife in the region. For residents, it includes an option to subsitute the word “our” for the word “their” when talking about the region. The second is a prayer for peace between Arabs and Jews, one that I’ve posted here before.
For the People of the Middle East
G-d of All,
Protector and Redeemer,
Watch over the people of the Middle East
As their [our] nations face struggle and strife,
In these lands and on these borders.
Grant safety to their [our] citizens and residents,
Visitors and guests,
During moments of unrest.
Grant wisdom and courage to national leaders
Throughout the region.
Grant insight to their advisors
And understanding to their friends.
Lead them on a path toward justice.
Direct them on the road to freedom.
Guide them on the way to prosperity.
Make them all shining lights of peace.
Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security to all nations,
So that harmony and blessings resound
From the four corners of the earth.
Blessed are You, G-d of All,
Forging nations and peoples
In the crucible of change
May this time of challenge for the nations of the Middle East
Become a blessing for all inhabitants and for the world.
For Peace in the Middle East
Sons of Abraham,
Sons of Hagar and Sarah,
Of Isaac and Ishmael:
Have you forgotten the day we buried our father?
Have you forgotten the day we carried his dead body into the cave near Hebron?
Have you forgotten the day we entered the darkness of Machpaelah
To lay our Patriarch to rest?
Sons of Esau and Jacob:
Have you forgotten the day we made peace?
The day we set aside past injustices and deep wounds to lay down our weapons and live?
Or the day we, too, buried our father?
Have you forgotten that we took Isaac’s corpse into that humble cave
To place him with his father for eternity?
Brother, I don’t remember crying with you.
Sister, I don’t remember mourning with you.
We should have cried the tears of generations.
We should have cried the tears of centuries,
The tears of fatherless sons
And motherless daughters,
So that we would remember in our flesh that we are one people,
From one father on earth and one Creator in heaven,
Divided only by time and history.
My brother calls you Allah.
My sister calls you Adonai.
You speak to some through Moses.
You speak to some through Mohammed.
We are one family, cousins and kin.
Light of truth,
Source of wisdom and strength,
In the name of our fathers and mothers,
In the name of justice and peace,
Help us to remember our history,
To mourn our losses together,
So that we may,
Lay down our weapons and live.
G-d of All Being,
Bring peace and justice to the land,
And joy to our hearts.
© 2013 Alden Solovy and http://www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
Postscript: The prayer “For the People of the Middle East” is based on prayers I wrote as the Arab Spring unfolded, a prayer “For Egypt,” a prayer “For Libya” and one “For Syria.” See the post “For Peace in the Middle East” for an explanation of the choices I made developing that prayer, which I wrote and posted a few years ago. I’ve maintained the original name, although it now seems imprecise. I may change it at some point down the road. For more prayers about Israel, please click here.
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Photo Source: Hillel at Baruch College, Peace in the Middle East Club