Pray for the Peace of Israel
History has been outpacing my ability to write a blog that can address how we are feeling. We had just finished watching the funerals of our three boys for whom we had prayed for eighteen hopeful days. We had not yet begun to grieve fully for Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, when we were hit in the stomach by the news that a sixteen year old Palestinian boy, Mohammad Abu-Khdeir had been murdered violently by Jews. Before we could adjust our minds to that news, eighty rockets fell on the south of Israel, in just a few hours of one night. Then before we could even sit down, last night, Operation Protective Edge, Tzuk Eitan, began as Israel sought to protect her civilians from the ceaseless missiles that have been raining from Gaza for three weeks.
If you are like me, it has been a hard week to focus on life in the present moment. I found it difficult to do anything as mundane as make a phone call to the dentist or order a book. Instead, I follow the updates of my Israel news apps, read every email that arrives in my inbox, call my cousins in Tel Aviv to learn that they are in their safe room for the night, and text with my daughter Sarah and her boyfriend to ensure that she is okay on her base and to wonder when Sagi, a reservist infantry officer, will be called up.
If you are like me, you are here and you are also there. Experiencing this strange kind of time travel, you want to know what you can do. The following is a list of suggestions.
1. Write letters of condolence to the Fraenkel, Shaar and Yifrach families. As I explained on Shabbat, they will be comforted to know that we are thinking of them in their mourning. State your name, mention the OJC and your town and state. Send your letters to
firstname.lastname@example.org or mail your letters to: Masorti Olami;32 General Pierre Koenig Street, 4th Floor; Jerusalem, Israel 93469. Our letters will be delivered after shloshim.
2. Plant trees in Israel in memory of the three young men who were kidnapped and killed on their way home from school for Shabbat. Check out http://www.israeltrees.org or http:www.jnf.org.
3. As I suggested on Shabbat, commit to perform four acts of loving kindness in memory of three Jewish boys and one Palestinian boy. Torah asks us to turn away from darkness as a response to violence and turn instead toward light. If you would like to share with Rabbi Scheff and me what chesed you choose to do, we would love to collect your anecdotes.
4. Pray. Pray for the peace of Israel. Pray for security of her borders and a return to normal life for all civilians in the area. Pray for the wisdom of Israel’s leaders and the courage of the soldiers of the IDF. Pray for a speedy cessation of this war so that the toll of human life is as low as possible. Pray for seeds of understanding to be planted even as we are at war. Pray in your own words or with the words of psalms or the Prayer for the State of Israel. Pray by yourself or come and be with us at the OJC to pray with your community.
5. Stay updated about what is going on in Israel. Sign on to an Israeli news service like ynet.co.il or jta.org. Download Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz apps to your smart phones. Find out what is happening and share the information with your Jewish and non-Jewish friends. Do not assume that they understand all that is going on.
6. Use social media to promote Israel’s story. Write with moderation and intelligence, and with all your heart. It is not possible to learn from someone who writes with hostility and anger. Write to teach. Share essays and pictures that are meaningful to you. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this short video must be worth a million. Cut and paste into your browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQmpiEotWME&feature=youtu.be.
Rabbi Scheff, as you know from the most recent blog entry, is in Israel with Nancy to celebrate their niece’s wedding. Scheduled for tomorrow night, it is unclear what will take place for Kellie and Gonen since gatherings of more than forty are prohibited for safety and guests at Israeli weddings typically number in the hundreds.
From his sister Randi and Avi’s bomb shelter on the moshav, Rabbi Scheff wrote a letter home. In part, he wrote: “Today, more than 150 rockets left the Gaza strip, aimed at civilian population centers, including Tel Aviv. They continue to fly… Watching Fox and CNN, I have learned that only rockets that kill people will make headlines around the world. No news of the trauma to our children, the interruption to life, the prohibition against public gathering, the fact that tens of thousands are sleeping in bomb shelters because no defense system is fool-proof. What you will see on the news is Israel’s response, the destruction surrounding missile sites (sometimes footage from Russian aggression passed off as damage in Gaza), the number injured and killed by Israel’s attempts to put an end to the days and nights of terror.
Rabbi Scheff asks us to contact our elected officials regarding the need to understand and appreciate the reality of this situation, and thank them for their financial support of the Iron Dome project. He reminds us to call family and friends in Israel and tell them that they are not alone.
Rabbi Scheff and Nancy will return early Friday morning. We hope that you will be at the OJC on Shabbat to hear all that he learned with his head and heart from being in Israel at this turbulent time.
Have mercy, dear God. Draw Your peace into the world and let it spread among all Your people. End conflict for You know how much evil and sorrow it creates. Show us Your compassion. Send Israel love, life, and peace. (Rebbe Nachman of Bratslov)
Pray for the peace of Israel. Shalom, Rabbi Paula Mack Drill