Praying for Peace – Shalom, Salaam

A field of sunflowers is seen in the fading evening light of a sunset.
Photo by Daniel L. Berek

This is supposed to be a time to celebrate. Eid-al-Fitr, concluding the holy month of Ramadan. Shavuot, the accepting of the Torah. Yet, in Israel and the Palestinian territories, there is war. Innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians have been injured and killed; businesses have been ruined and homes destroyed.

In Prayer

From Alden Solovy, For the Return [of] Peace, To Bend Light:

For the Return of Peace
O Peace, you fleeting dream,
O Justice, you fickle hope,
Today we do not pray in your name.
Today we pray in the name of the children
Who have never met you,
Who have not been blessed
With your love or your truth.
Surely, their cries must someday
Drive you out of hiding,
Summoning you to cast your healing
Upon all the earth.

One G-d,
Ancient and merciful,
Justice and Peace are Yours.
Halt their retreat from the world
And send them to us for good.
Do it for the sake of Your name,
Do it for the sake of Your right hand,
Do it for the sake of holiness,
Do it for the sake of Your children,
So that all may live in the fullness of Your gifts,
As one family on earth,
Under Your canopy of love.

In Song

Tula Ben Ari, a very talented Israeli singer, an artist with Playing for Change,

“People lost their lives. Their homes. Adults and Children live in fear, trauma and uncertainty. My heart aches with the compassion of a mother who feels the pain of every woman man or child in this region no matter if they are Jewish , Muslim, or Christian. We are all the same.” She offers her sentiment in her beautiful performance of a Paul Simon song.

May There Be Peace

My heart aches for both my beloved Israel and my Muslim brothers and sisters. May this tragic conflict end and peace prevail. Shalom, Salaam.

Should the Old Year ‘Be Forgot’? We Must Keep Up the Good Fight of Waging Peace.

We may wish for “auld acquaintance be forgot,” but not so fast, say the creators of For the Sake of Old Times. (This powerful film will air on NPR stations nationwide.) A group of Black singers got together in a church that once refused to seat African Americans, in Birmingham, Alabama, a city that in 2020 removed its Confederate monument. As the chorus sings about moving from the old year to the new, clippings of archival footage remind us of the tragic events that seared our conscious and the efforts of people everywhere, of all colors, coming together. They came and continue to come, to say the names of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, not only to remember and not forget, but also to work together. For 2021, let us all make peace. Let us keep making this “good trouble,” to make the world a better place for all of us.

We Can Put Politics Aside; 2021 Is a Chance to Create Light

The Founders Sing is a highly creative group that engages in social commentary through song parodies. To ring in the new year, though, these musicians are taking a break from politics. “Hello 2021. Remember where we came from,” goes one refrain. “Now let’s turn our love lights on ‘Cause here comes a brand-new sun.”

“I have signed a pact with life: we will not get in each other’s way,” Janusz Korczak wrote in his Ghetto Diary. Even in the darkest days of the Warsaw Ghetto, the Old Doctor saw life – in the children he nurtured, the geraniums he cared for, and even a German soldier standing guard outside his window. A new year, 2021, gives us hope we will emerge from our own dark, narrow space.

Many of us hope that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will fulfill their vision and pledge to “build back better,” for all Americans and all the nations among which we share a single planet. Life, however, is beyond politics. It is that life with which Korczak made an agreement: for each one of us to make the choice to wage peace.

Indeed, New Year’s Day this time around falls on a Friday. That means children around the world continue fighting for the future.

In the Darkness, Children Have a Vision

Even in the darkness of 2020, a group of children isolated from their friends and peers got together virtually to sing “Make the World Better.” Charlotte Bowder, a talented teen from Maine, wrote the song. They are grateful all the everyday heroes “who give their courage and kindness, so we don’t feel so alone all the time.” But until they can see each other again, they will still be working. And though September 2020 did not bring the hoped-for reunion, September 2021 should. “We’ll be out of it soon, if we stay in it together.”

What Unites Us in Our Diversity Is Our Common Humanity

diversity humanity

A collection of dolls wear costumes from around of world, symbolizing diversity and our common humanity.


Our shared humanity is a them of which my Rabbi often speaks. At the end of Friday night service last week (via the magic of Zoom), she included a song a cantor they know composed recently. Steve Klaper part of an interfaith effort to spread the message of peace (Shalom, Salaam) among people of multiple faith traditions “to engage in creative service through music, art, education and outreach to the poor.”

“Ain’t no child to go hungry anymore / With so much that we do have here in this land that we all love / Ain’t no child to go hungry anymore.” Hazzan Klaper includes the full lyrics of his song with the video.




BringBackOurGirls 01 rFurthermore, in May, Steve reminded us in another video about the Nigerian girls of Chibok kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Finally, my Rabbi points out that Steve’s sentiments are reflected in the following lines by poet and artist Judy Chicago:

And then all that has divided us will merge,
And then compassion will be wedded to power,
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind,
And then both men and women will be gentle,
And both women and men will be strong,
And then no person will be subject to another’s will,
And then all who wish to be rich and free and varied,
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many,
And then all will share equally in the Earth’s abundance,
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old,
And then all will nourish the young,
And then all will cherish life’s creatures,
And then all will live in harmony with each other and the Earth,
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.

In the last blog post, girls around the world made a plea for equal treatment in education.