A Prayer After Terror

This week we mourn terror attacks in Israel. The denominations have declared this Shabbat a “Shabbat of solidarity” with Israel. We at ALEPH offer a prayer in our own voice in the lineage of the prophets, whose voice we need to hear now. May this Shabbat bring peace to all who mourn and comfort to all who are bereaved.

We heard the prophet promise that
swords would bend into plowshares
and spears become pruning hooks,

that treachery’s teachers would go
the way of the pleistocene,
a silty layer in history’s sands.

We recall despite contagious amnesia
how our elders, gritty and parched, built
atop lifeless dunes a gleaming white city

and dared to name it a hill of spring,
laying streets so children raised with a
babel of languages could delight unafraid.

We weep as streets become killing fields,
as swords again lunge at innocents,
as spears again become blind missiles,

as cars hurtle into bus stops,
as even prophesy itself twists and
perverts into a weapon for terror.

How can merely human hands make
plowshares and pruning hooks of peace
if the same hands must wage defensive war

against hatred and bigotry taught from
cradle to grave in classrooms of despair,
decorated with the faces of martyrs?

How can we hold the peacemaker’s hope,
the visionary’s dream of a life worth living,
safe and free in the land of promise,

and also grieve every fresh tragedy
without steeling hearts or feeding a frenzy
soon to spill the next innocent blood?

Help us, God, to hear the prophet anew,
to defend the dream no less by spirit
than by our human might and power,

to balm every wound, lift all the fallen,
straighten all the bent, mourn all the loss,
and not ask whose blood is redder.

Heal our hearts, You Who every day
speak creation anew. Let there be hope
not just imagined but fulfilled, in our day —

and we say together: Amen.

Rabbi David Evan Markus and Rabbi Rachel Barenblat