Prayer for Peace: Syria – Rosh Hashanah 5774

Prayer before Peace Erev Rosh Hashanah

Two weeks ago we were shocked by the images coming out of Syria, images of senseless murder. Victims of chemical weapons used by the Assad regime. Two weeks ago over 3000 killed or injured. Over this year, 100,000 Syrians killed, and now one million refugees.

We wait to see if the world will react.

Israeli President, Shimon Peres said, “The world cannot accept genocide and slaughter of children and women…Assad is not his people’s leader – he is a murdered of children.” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “The events in Syria prove that the world’s most dangerous regimes must not be allowed to gain possession of the world’s most dangerous arms

Are we indifferent to what is happening in Syria? Can we not feel or say anything? While we remember Martin Luther King Jr’s I Had a Dream speech, we also remember what he wrote in Birmingham, April that same year. He said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Rabbi Joachim Prinz, who spoke just before Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington 50 years ago last week. His remarks included these poignant words: “The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”

As Jews, we cannot just sit by in silence, if we are silent, then we are guilty of desecrating the memories of many of our own family members who were gassed over 70 years ago in the Holocaust. Eli Wiesel wrote as a challenge to us, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented…There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

There are no easy answers and I don’t profess to have one, but we do have prayer, something we can at least offer tonight.

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