Praying for Peace When it Feels Pointless
How do you have faith even when you don’t *feel* like having faith?
It’s been one of those weeks where instead of writing about fun topics like Jewish Broadway and bagels, I’m writing about antisemitism, terrorism, and doubt.
Not long after last week’s Shabbat Drop, well… dropped (do you get it now?), it was announced that a Palestinian gunman opened fire outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem as Shabbat prayer was wrapping up, killing seven people. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, no less.
When there’s an attack in Israel or on Jews anywhere, the global Jewish community feels it. In between the time I hit send on this newsletter and lighting my Shabbat candles, I received texts and calls from friends and family about the attack.
It wasn’t until I was praying that evening did I really feel the effects of what happened. I was saying the Amidah - the Silent Devotion - which praises G-d, thanking Him for Shabbat, acknowledging the holiness of the day. About halfway through, this line jumped out at me: “Blessed are you, Hashem, Who blesses His people Israel with peace.” “Huh,” I thought. “Not today.”
I sat with this cynicism for a few days, wondering what the point of this prayer is and G-d’s role in it during not-so-peaceful times. It was only when I got over the initial shock of the events of that Friday and thought about the prayer more, did I try to think bigger than the words on the page before me, and came to this conclusion:
When we pray for peace, we’re not merely praying for the absence of violence; we’re praying for lasting harmony for Jews everywhere. It’s a continuous ask because we haven’t achieved perfect peace, if that exists. We could always pray more, no matter how tough times are. It’s why we still pray for the sick even when things aren’t looking good. It’s why we praise G-d while we pray for the dead, to express our devotion even during moments of mourning. Maybe reciting these words moves our faith in the right direction, even when it feels all hope is lost. After all, isn’t that what faith is? To have it even when you don’t *feel* like having it?
Despite all this obnoxious positivity, I think it’s okay to doubt. This is not an easy topic to grapple with. And when all else fails, you can keep in mind that our liturgy is more of a literary creation in response to the bible and not everything is about you! Geesh! But I’d love to talk to you about this topic. How do you feel about praying when you’re just not feeling it? Or you’re feeling doubtful, or not very faithful? Do you say the words anyway or put down your prayer book and go watch Fauda? Leave a comment or email me!
This week was heavy with more bad news for the Jews. It was discovered that a neo-Nazi couple in Ohio was running a homeschool group that taught children to love Hitler. ‘You People’ came out on Netflix depicting Jews as dangerous stereotypes through cheap humor and misinformation. At least no one has spoiled Fauda season 4 for me! That’s why I’ve decided to share some good Jewish news from this week, both global and personal.
Good Jewish news from the week:
A Palestinian Muslim medic was first on the scene at the terror attack, treating the injured. “Jews save Arabs. Arabs save Jews. I think it’s an example for the whole world.” - Fadi Dekidek
“A chain of fruit and nuts stores brings an Israeli-style market concept to NYC.” I just learned the Nuts Factory here in the city is based off Israeli shuks! But I’m not fully excited unless they sell Israeli gummy candies. Get your plastic bags ready, people!
I attended a black & Jewish collaborative event (which I feel weird saying since there are black Jews, but here I mean African-American culture), full of soul and Hebrew raps. Take that, Jonah Hill!
I’M ON INSTAGRAM! And boy would I love it if you would give me a follow. That is where I’ll reiterate some points made in the newsletter, but also share other Jewish content, articles, memes, etc. Let’s be friends there!
I actually got two very exciting pieces of personal Jewish news this week which I am ECSTATIC to share with y’all, but I will when they are more developed. How’s that for suspense?
Anyone else have any good Jewish news? Shabbat Shalom. Peace in the Middle East.