Finding Hope Amidst the Violence

Christian, Jewish and Muslim Clergy came together on Wednesday outside of the synagogue of the horrific terrorist attack. Here they prayed and pleaded for peace and called for “tolerance amid spiking regional tensions.” AP Photo/Olivier Fitoussi

It seems hard to find hope or solace as tensions and violence escalate in Israel.  A resolution to the conflict and a true peace between Israelis and Palestinians feels hard to imagine right now. Yet, in these moments of grief and despair, we must not only mourn our losses, but we must also take note of the profound ways people are coming together. In the midst of the conflict, we find people forging a way forward that seeks to counter the seemingly endless cycles of violence. When I was in Israel this summer, I watched as people of all backgrounds came to console one another after the horrible murders of three Israeli young men—Eyal, Naftali and Gilad—and the Palestinian teenager—Mohammed, z”l. And many of these people continued to reach out to one another through the summer and fall.

Now, in the wake of this latest attack, in which four brilliant and peace loving Rabbis—Moshe Twersky, Aryeh Kuipinsky, Kalman Ze’ev Levine, and Avraham Goldberg, z”l”—and a brave Druze policeman—Zidan Saif, z”l—were murdered, we see people coming together again. In their words and actions we can find a measure of hope and inspiration. The widows of the four slain rabbis came together and released a statement, which included the following words, which we may all take to heart: “We ask that every person accept upon himself on this Sabbath Eve (Parshat Toldot, November 21-22, 2014), to set aside the day of Shabbat as a day of unconditional love, a day during which we will refrain from words of disagreement and division, from words of gossip and slander” (See the full statement here).

These ongoing interfaith prayer gatherings and pronouncements serve as a reminder to all of us that we can not cease from working towards peace even in the moments when we feel the greatest outrage and despair. As we go forward, may the pursuit of peace be the work of our hands and hearts. The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land said it clearly: “Such murderous deeds especially in a house of worship are the ultimate abuse of religion. We call on all religious political and civic leaders to do their utmost to prevent the local political conflict from being turned into a religious war the consequences of which will be disastrous for all.”

For fuller statements and accounts see the links below.

Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land: Religious Leaders Express Shock and Horror ~ A Religious War will be Disastrous for All

Condemnation: Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land

“Clergy Plead for Interfaith Tolerance in Jerusalem”, The Associated Press in the Tri-City Herald

“The Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel: Religions for Peace Condems Terror Attack in Jerusalem”

May the Memory of the Righteous Be a Blessing. 

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