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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 25, 2003

What a Real Peace Rally Looks Like

I stumbled upon avoyagetoarcturus and discovered this very moving piece
At a real peace rally, a rabbi (from Temple B'nai Sholem, St Joseph) says this -- to a gathering of over 1,000 people in a Baptist church:

May the blessings of heaven -- kindness and compassion, long life, ample sustenance, well-being, and healthy children devoted to Torah -- be granted to all members of this congregation. May the Sovereign of the universe bless you, adding to your days and your years. May you be spared all distress and disease. May our Protector in heaven be your help at all times.

At a real peace rally, a minister says this:

Avinu She-bashamayim, Rock and Redeemer of the people Israel: Bless the State of Israel, with its promise of redemption. Shield it with Your love; spread over it the shelter of your peace. Guide its leaders and advisors with Your light and Your truth. Help them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our Holy Land. Deliver them; crown their efforts with triumph. Bless the Land with peace, and its inhabitants with lasting joy.

Another interrupts the program to ask Holocaust survivors to stand. Several do so, and receive a standing ovation. Then he says this:

God of all mercy and compassion, our hearts break with the tragedy of suffering and loss. We cannot replace what they have lost, but we can ask you to fill those empty places with your presence, and help us heal the wounds that all of us suffer.
And he says this:

Let us pray for our enemies, in our personal lives as well as those who threaten world peace.

All are your people so grant those who threaten your world, and ours, the power to love also. Grant them the vision to understand that it is not our duty to destroy but to build up. Grant us the power of love and understanding to help bring our enemies to the table of friendship.

The church sanctuary, built in the style of an immense amphitheater, was full. Musicians, singers, clergy, and congregants from six evangelical churches and five synagogues were there; American and Israeli flags stood on the dais, with more Israeli flags draped from the balcony, and banners hanging above the choir loft behind the dais, on either side of the 10' x 15' video screen; Isaiah 56:7 was prominent. The pastor's first word to the congregation was "shalom," and he spoke of the gathering in terms of a "family reunion." The closing remarks were delivered by a rabbi, who spoke on Genesis 22:6, which ends (in the JPS TaNaKh) with: "And the two of them walked on together." Then the video screen showed the words to the Israeli national anthem so that we could all sing it.

One of J.R.R. Tolkien's letters contains an astonishing vignette. He tells the story of a Jewish friend glancing meaningfully at a clock by way of subtly reminding Tolkien that he will miss a church service if he does not depart immediately, and of the feeling this gave him: "A glimpse of an unfallen world." Just about any American evangelical baby boomer with Jewish friends has gotten many such glimpses. Of course, this service was in many ways a reminder of our all-too-fallen world; we were, after all, praying for the peace of Jerusalem -- thus the readings of Psalm 122 (in Hebrew, with English translation printed in the program), and Psalms 116, 125, and 128.

But it left me in awe, with a sense that after centuries of wretchedness, I was born into the first generation to get it right, the fruit of emergent behavior in the freest society on Earth. The lights may be going out in Europe, but in America, in this year 2003 of our Common Era, the lights are coming on.