Praying for Peace

The words of prayer surrounded me. I could feel them on my own lips tho I couldn’t control the tremble or the sob about to escape. The tears were hot as they streamed down. I wondered if I should put on my sunglasses so no one could see but the cloud cover was thick and perhaps I didn’t need to hide.

Oseh shalom bim’romav, May the Maker of peace in high places
Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu, make peace descend upon us
B’al kol Yisrael, and upon all Israel
V’imru: Amen, and let us say: Amen

My eyes closed and in a moment the places I have prayed these words with earnest tears flashed before me.

The Kotel, The Western Wall of the ancient Temple complex in Jerusalem. Always the first stop on any trip I have taken to Israel in my life. When I approach those ancient stones where so many of my ancestors prayed, I am awash with emotion. I feel so deeply the peace that is missing in our world, the violence people around the world live under every day. I stand at those stones and I pray with all that I have in me, for peace.

Auschwitz. In the heart of Poland lies this place. This place used by the Nazi’s for the systematic annihilation of my people. This place whose rolls of the murdered include lists of names that sound like my own. I stand in the center of Auschwitz II/Birkenau and sing with all of my heart, praying for peace. I hoped the spirit of the prayer would lift the murderous veil. My mind spinning, what causes human beings to target those who are different from them for murder? How could we bring peace?

In each of these places the prayer for peace brought me to catch in my throat and devolve into tears. These are hallowed grounds for me and I have come to expect and be ready for those tears when I am there.

Today I was standing amongst my community at the foot of the Western steps of the Colorado State Capitol. My place of work, and today, standing outside the building surrounded by friends, my place of prayer.

Members of the Jewish community came together on this day, the day of our holy Sabbath, to “pray with our feet” as we prepared to join the Denver: Families Belong Together Rally. Today the tears that filled me as I prayed for peace were filled with angst and deep sorrow. How can it be that in my America peace is fleeting for so many? I look around me at the Capitol and at those gathering in the park for the rally and see friends who survived a workplace shooting, I see people who find no rest on the streets as they struggle with homelessness, I see people who are constantly on high alert because they have been regularly targeted for the color of their skin, and I ache in my heart for the knowledge that those who come here to seek asylum will be treated as less than human and their children taken from them, and I wonder where will peace ever begin.

Today I rallied for peace, for dignity, for humanity. May we all look in the mirror and seek the answer from within to the question of what we each are willing to do to bring about this peace. America was designed to be the Land of the Free, let us be free of those things and beliefs that cause us to put our own freedom above another’s.

Oseh shalom bim’romav, Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu, B’al kol Yisrael, V’imru: Amen.