Category Archives: Peace

Beyond UN 2334- A Message of Hope and Peace

The UN Resolution 2334 has us engaged in a fiery back and forth that is divisive for the world Jewish community, the relationship between the US and Israel, and most importantly deflecting from the important issue at hand; creating a real peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. Let us step back and reflect on the larger issue.

The Israelis and the Palestinians must figure out how to coexist and live side-by-side, respectful and tolerant of the other. Regardless of any UN Resolution, the ultimate responsibility for peace between these two people resides with them. Both sides must want peace enough. This includes each side acting in good faith, building foundations for peace within their respective Peoples and societies and doing things to promote good will instead of things that would be viewed as obstacles to peace. Until and unless both sides can come to the table and have the important and very difficult conversations that conclude in an agreement, peace is not possible.

Those of us on the outside can have our opinions, but only the Israeli and the Palestinian voices truly matter.   It is time for those voices to speak out and be heard.

May we hope and pray that in the coming year, 2017, both sides will find a way to reach out to the other, building bridges that ultimately result in both Peoples living peacefully together in the region.

Ken Yehi Ratzon

A Young Man teaches something important on the Basketball Court

ariYesterday I went to the Wells Fargo Center to watch some kids play a pick-up game of Basketball. It was not your typical basketball game, however, but not because they were playing on the home court of the Philadelphia 76ers. This was a game involving students from Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Wynnewood and the Al Aqsa Islamic Academy of North Philadelphia, the Bar Mitzvah project of  a young man named  Ari.

Kids got together to play ball. The kids played on blended teams. So this was not a competition between schools or even religions. It was a pickup game of basketball.

I met Ari and his mom, Meirav, and chatted about how amazing this was. I then spoke with my friend Rabbi  Cooper, Senior Rabbi at Beth Hillel about this extraordinary achievement who was spending far more time teaching court-side than coaching.

It was an extraordinary achievement indeed. No, they did not create world peace nor did they resolve the Mid-East conflicts (any of them). They played basketball together and met each other on the court to play and then perhaps to talk and begin the process of getting to know one another. This is one of the most amazing things that we can do: play together, talk together, see an opportunity for a relationship with someone we had not considered before.

It is ironic that the kids played on the court without problems, but persistent condensation issues afterward forced the professionals to cancel their game for that evening. What might the message be in this?

I can only hope this game has legs; that the conversations that began on the court yesterday continue. Meirav, Ari’s mom, told me that her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah project in two years would be another such game. We can only pray that the message of coming together continues both on and off the court and we do everything we can to support it.

Mazal Tov Ari, on your Bar Mitzvah and this wonderful event!

For those who did not see the press report, here is a link:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20161130_For_this_bar_mitzvah_boy__Jewish-Muslim_friendship_is_no_long_shot.html

 

Prayer for those in the path of Hurricane Matthew

A prayer for our friends and families in the path of Hurricane Matthew

thu-am-surgeMay you find shelter from the storm, a safe passage until it has passed and may you emerge whole and unharmed.

My thoughts turn to the Hashkivenu prayer, said as part of the evening (Ma’ariv) service asking for God’s protection during the night at a time when we are so vulnerable. I hope that it provides some comfort.

Be Safe

הַשְׁכִּיבֵנוּ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ לְשָׁלוֹם וְהַעֲמִידֵנוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ לְחַיִּים. וּפְרוֹשׂ עָלֵינוּ סֻכַּת שְׁלוֹמֶךָ וְתַקְּנֵנוּ בְּעֵצָה טוֹבָה מִלְּפָנֶיךָ וְהוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ לְמַעַן שְׁמֶךָ וְהָגֵן בַּעֲדֵנוּ. וְהָסֵר מֵעָלֵינוּ אוֹיֵב דֶּבֶר וְחֶרֶב וְרָעָב וְיָגוֹן וְהָסֵר שָׂטָן מִלְּפָנֵינוּ וּמֵאַחֲרֵינוּ וּבְצֵל כְּנָפֶיךָ תַּסְתִּירֵנוּ כִּי אֵל שׁוֹמְרֵנוּ וּלְשָׁלוֹם מֵעַתָּה וְעַד עוֹלָם. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ הַפּוֹרֵשׂ סֻכַּת שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַל יְרוּשָׁלָיִם.

Hashkiveinu, Adonai Eloheinu, l’shalom, v’haamideinu shomreinu l’chayim, ufros aleinu sukat sh’lomecha, v’takneinu b’eitzah tovah milfanecha, v’hoshi-einu l’maan sh’mecha. V’hagein baadeinu, v’haseir mei-aleinu oyeiv, dever, v’chere, v’raav, v’yagon, v’harcheik mimenu avon vafesha. Uv’tzeil k’nafecha tastireinu, ki El shomreinu umatzileinu atah, ki El chanun v’rachum atah. Ushmor tzeiteinu uvo-einu l’chayim ul’shalom, mei-atah v’ad olam. Baruch atah, Adonai, haporeis sukat shalom aleinu v’al kol amo Yisrael v’al Yerushalayim.

Grant that we may lie down in peace, Eternal God, and awaken us to life. Shelter us with Your tent of peace and guide us with Your good counsel. Shield us from hatred, plague, and destruction. Keep us from warm famine and anguish. Help us to deny our inclination to evil. God of peace, may we always feel protected because You are our Guardian and Helper. Give us refuge in the shadow of Your wings. Guard our going forth and our coming in and bless us with life and peace. Blessed are You, Eternal God, whose shelter of peace is spread over us, over all Your people Israel, and over Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom

This was another difficult week. Terror and hatred scarred Tel Aviv leaving four innocent people dead and many others injured and victims. Our hearts and prayers reach out to those that suffer. We also pray for the day when people learn to live together in peace.

The piece I share is Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach singing Al Eyle Ani Bochyah – For these things I cry. Even through the tears, we hope for a new and better day.

 

Shabbat Shalom

Olam Chesed Yibaneh- Thoughts on the Tragedy in Brussels

The terror and tragedy of events in Brussels today requires that we pause and reflect on the horror and pray for those who were injured or killed. I have had Rabbi Menachem Creditor’s rendition of Psalm 89 playing over and over in my head in an attempt to reassure myself that we will get through this too.

 Rabbi Creditor adapted a phrase from Psalm 89, Olam Chesed Yibaneh, in response to the birth of his daughter in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. He translates the line as: “You will build this world with love.”

 We are charged, or maybe implored, to engage in the creating of a place where we care for each other, embracing each other instead of permitting hate or fear to separate each other.

 Cain Yehi Ratzon, May this be God’s