Spread over a shelter: message, ritual, prayer for Gaza

It is devastating that as we turn our hearts, eyes, and prayers to the East we see untold heartbreak and death in the past 48 hours in Gaza--at least 55 unarmed protestors have been killed, and more than 2,700 people wounded by the Israeli Defense Force since the beginning of the Great Return March. On the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel, the commemoration of the Nakba, and yesterday's moving of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we may feel helpless, infuriated, frightened, and unsure of what to do next. There is so, so much violence.

Our prayers and our words are both all we have and never enough, and so tonight I invite you to make ritual space in your hearts, activism, and your homes. As we pray for Palestinian people, we might pray particularly for a shelter of peace. Perhaps an offering in the Jewish tradition at this time feels like too much to bear. Perhaps doing so offers up words where you have none.

In April at our first Kabbalat Shababt we sang the words of the Hashkiveinu, השכיבינו ה׳ אלוקינו לשלום והעמידנו לחיים, Lie us down to peace, Adonai our God, and raise us up to life, we prayed for a shelter of peace to settle on Jerusalem/Al Quds, and over Baltimore, the city from where our prayers lift off. At this moment, the Ceasefire in Baltimore continues.

Tonight, consider lighting a yizkor candle (or even a tea light candle) to remember the 55 Palestinians killed in the past 48 hours, and recite either this prayer for shelter, or one of your own.

May the words of the Hashkivenu, the flame of the candle, and the ache in our hearts mobilize us to act for justice. To, like Mother Jones taught us, "pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."

If you find yourself in a moment of heartbreak and would like to find a time to speak, please send me an email.

With prayers for shelter in our city and for all who dwell on earth.