As we approach this Thanksgiving, there are many things for which I should be thankful. As the Middle East — that holy land — is once again torn by fresh violence, I am thankful particularly for the fact that I live in peace, in a land that may often descend into violent disagreement these days but which is, nonetheless, a land in which I may walk without much fear of violence. Of course, there are places in our own country that are dangerous, and where people do walk in fear. But we do not face what those in Israel and Palestine are facing right now. And so, as I give thanks for the privilege to live in peace, and for those known and unknown who contribute to that peace, I offer for this Thanksgiving a prayer from the Union for Reformed Judaism, a prayer for peace between our Jewish and Muslim sisters and brothers in that land that has seldom seen peace, but from which a deep longing for peace has come through the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And, I am grateful to Diana Butler Bass, whose sharing of this prayer brought it to my attention:
For Peace in the Middle East
Sons of Abraham,
Sons of Hagar and Sarah,
Of Isaac and Ishmael:Have you forgotten the day we buried our father together?
Have you forgotten the day we carried his dead body into the cave near Hebron?
Have you forgotten the day we entered the darkness of Machpaelah to lay our Patriarch to rest?
Sons of Esau and Jacob:
Have you forgotten the day we made peace?
The day we set aside past injustices and deep wounds to lay down our weapons and live?
Or the day we, too, buried our father together? Have you forgotten that we took Isaac’s corpse into that humble cave to place him with his father Avraham for eternity?
Brother, I don’t remember crying with you.
Sister, I don’t remember mourning with you.
We should have cried the tears of generations.
We should have cried the tears of centuries,
The tears of fatherless sons
And motherless daughters,
So that we would remember in our flesh that we are one people,
From one father on earth and one Creator in heaven,
Divided only by time and history.
My brother calls you Allah.
My sister calls you Adonai.
You speak to some through Moses.
You speak to some through Mohammed.
We are one family, cousins and kin.
Light of truth,
Source of wisdom and strength,
In the name of our fathers and mothers,
In the name of justice and peace,
Help us to remember our history,
To mourn our losses together,
So that we may,
Lay down our weapons and live.
G-d of All Being,
Bring peace and justice to the land,
And joy to our hearts.