VIGIL FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
We come together as people of diverse faiths and backgrounds to:
In the spirit of unity and holding fast to our common humanity,
We grieve for each and every human being lost, wounded, suffering loss, afraid, and despairing of the coming nights and days of uncertainty and pain.
We pray for the violence to cease, and for the world to come together to support all who have been harmed and to bring a lasting peace to a land that has suffered too much for too long.
Within our own communities and nations, we commit to stand against anti-Semitic, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim incidents or rhetoric of any kind.
As people of faith committed to peace, we gather to speak words of compassion and solidarity, aloud and in silent prayer, and seek actions that foster healing, peace and justice.
Battery candles will be available.
Prayer of Mothers for Life and Peace
God of Life
Click here to read the full prayer on a PDF with more information about the authors.
Click here to visit the Open Siddur Project webpage and read the prayer in Arabic, Hebrew and German.
The American Friends of Combatants for Peace (CfP) shared via email some profound word and experiences of the bi-national (Israeli and Palestinian) Zoom support group this week:
Jamil, CfP’s Palestinian General Coordinator, began the conversation. He looked around the Zoom room at his Israeli friends and shared that it was hard to find the words to express his sorrow, shock, and grief about what Hamas had done.
“I can’t believe this. I am seeing these images, and I don’t want to believe they are real. I cannot hold back my tears. You are my friends, my family.” Other Palestinian activists echoed words of care to Israeli members:
“I am with you. I’m going to stay with you.”
“I wish I could see you and hold you.”
At the start of the conversation, it was hard not to speak from “sides” about the pain, needs, and remorse for the violence coming from each society. After some time, Yonatan, CfP’s Israeli Executive Director, reflected, “We are talking as if we belong to the extreme parts of our communities, but we belong to each other. We chose each other. We are not our societies; we are humans.”
Words seem inadequate when deeds are so horrific as to defy the ability to string together anything that can ease the pain, lessen the fear, defuse the anger, and move the broken and wounded to doing anything other than striking back. Yet as people of faith committed to peace, we must speak words of compassion and solidarity, aloud and in silent prayer, as well as seek actions that foster healing, justice and peace.
In the face of shocking and deadly attacks by Hamas against civilians in Israel and the Israeli military response to those attacks, adding violence to violence, we grieve for each and every human being lost, wounded, suffering loss, and despairing the coming nights and days of uncertainty and pain.
We pray for the violence to cease and for the world to come together to support all who have been harmed and bring a lasting peace to a land that has suffered too much for too long. Within our own communities and nation, we commit to stand against antisemtic, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim occurence or rhetoric of any kind, and work for relationships of respect, open-heartedness and healing. Although war often leads us to think in terms of "us" and "them," we know from the very nature of our organization, that coming together in the richness of diversity is the only path to peace.
ACTION: We urge you to join with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quaker-based) in their call to our U.S. government to act to de-escalate the violence. Click here to TAKE ACTION NOW and send a letter to your Senators and Congress Representative. Their website makes this easy, and personalizing the letter can make it even more effective.
Peace with Justice: We affirm these words from Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. "We mourn and we pray for the safety of everyone in harm's way... We know that a true and lasting peace will not be acheived until there is a just, negotiated political solution that protects the human rights of everyone."
Contribute and Support: Here we highlight a few organizations, mostly led by both Palestinians and Israelis who are working for healing, justice and peace. We offer links for you to consider making donations or supporting in other ways.
Rebuilding Alliance - dedicated to rebuilding war-torn communities. Currently their NGO partners in Gaza are delivering food and hygiene supplies.
New Israel Fund - prodemocracy organization in Israel already mobilized with war relief.
UNRWA-UN - relief for Palestinian refugees - is already established in Gaza.
IsraAid - partnering with local and civil society organizations to coordinate humanitarian efforts, providing psychosocial support and urgent aid. International NGO.
Gisha - protecting the freedom of movement for Palestinians, especially in Gaza.
Listen, Learn and Pray: Below are links to various organizations that include Muslim, Jews and Christians, with statements offering their insight and perspectives from their own experience. MVPJ does not advocate any specific statement or response. We offer these with the prayer that we can learn from one another, even when we disagree.
Monthly Multifaith Prayers for Peace and Justice
Peaceful Presence is sometimes hosted in-person, sometimes by Zoom, and sometimes hybrid (with both options - to join in person or via Zoom). Watch for updates!
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice coordinates “Peaceful Presence” gatherings, a monthly prayer service on the evening of the 11th of each month, offering a time of quiet multifaith prayers for peace and strength for the journey. All are welcome: those of all faith traditions and of no defined faith, those who are suffering at the hands of their own government, those who need a pause in the midst of intensive work on behalf of others, and all who would like to pray with others for the well-being of all. The prayer time will include elements from several religious traditions.
Our July 2023 Peaceful Presence was hosted by the Mountain View/Palo Alto Musalla (Muslim community). The contributions on the themes of patience and hope were rich and varied!
Our host, Farha Andrabi, told the Muslim story of Hajirah, "Hope, Patience and Perseverance: The Story of Hajirah." (Some of you may know her as "Hagar." However, the story about her in the Muslim tradition has some significant and surprising differences!)
Ellen Stromberg from Congregations Beth Am and Etz Chayim, read excerpts from this piece called "Praciticing Hope" by Rabbi Betsy Forester.
Eric Sabelman told a story that came to him during a Quaker service. He titled the story "The Courier's Message." The images on the left are illustrations connected with Eric's story.
Kristi Iverson shared some teachings on "Patience," one of the Ten Paramis (or Ten Perfections) from the Buddhist tradition.
Cluster bombs are banned internationally by more than 100 countries, yet President Biden says the U.S. will send cluster munitions to Ukraine. Cluster bombs release hundreds to thousands of "bomblets" from the air that spread out over very wide areas. These small bomblets can sit ready to explode -- for decades. Far too often it is when children – thinking they are toys – pick them up - that they explode and rip off limbs of innocent children.
July 17, 2023
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice’s Steering Committee is compelled to stand with many other Americans and people of faith and goodwill around the world against the President's decision to provide cluster bombs to Ukraine. [1,2] We find that the arguments given by the President for doing so are based on expediency, flying in the face of universal condemnation of weapons of mass destruction. To resort to cluster munitions as a "temporary" solution to delayed production of other weapons does not make them less reprehensible. 
Major differences exist between cluster munitions and precisely targeted "smart" bombs and artillery shells; cluster bombs are intended to kill over a wide area, and not just a single target. The claim that only munitions with very low "dud rates" - where unexploded bomblets remain lethal - will be sent to Ukraine is subject to scrutiny, because variations between batches cannot be predicted in advance of use on the battlefield. Claims that Ukraine would not use these weapons where its own citizens would be endangered and that post-war clearing of landmines and unexploded ordnance is required anyway ignore the change of citizenship in disputed territory and the risk that not all bomblets will be found in time to prevent injury to the innocent. The argument that Russia has already used cluster munitions is hardly moral justification for the US and its allies to begin using them. 
(click "Read More") for to end of letter. Click here to download a pdf of letter.
At our May 11, 2023 Peaceful Presence, hosted by Congregation Etz Chayim, Hilal Cansizoglu from The Pacifica Institute offered a this prayer she wrote drawing from her own Islamic tradition.
She explained, "In our Islamic tradition, when we want to communicate with God through our individual prayers, we like to call Him with His beautiful names and attributes, so I tried to write down a prayer as a believer in dialogue for peace and justice and call God with some of His beautiful names and attributes in my prayer."
The names of God Hilal includes are:
Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim (You are The Most Compassionate and The Most Merciful)
Al-Awwal and Al-Akhir (You are The First and You are The Last)
An-Nur and Al-Hadi (You are the Light and You are the Guide)
Al-Jami'e (You are the Gatherer, You are The Unifier)
Al-'Adl (You are The Utterly Just)Click here to download a PDF of this beautiful prayer!
ACTION ALERT: Sign a letter to Congress for Nuclear Disarmament!
MVPJ has been working for many years to support nuclear disarmament, a principle of peace and justice shared by all of our faith traditions.
A new bill in Congress can move us another step forward!
Sign a letter to Congress today, urging your Representative to become a co-sponsor of this bill!
H. RES. 77 – “Embracing the goals and provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” – was introduced last month by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA). The bill calls on the Biden Administration to …
• Make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of the national security policy of the United States
• Renounce the option of using nuclear weapons first
• End the President’s sole authority to launch a nuclear attack
• Take the nuclear weapons of the United States off hair-trigger alert
• Cancel the plan to replace the nuclear arsenal of the United States with modernized, enhanced weapons.
Urge your Representative to become a co-sponsor of H.Res. 77 today! Click here to sign a letter to our local Representatives.
(Many thanks to Peninsula Peace & Justice for setting up this easy way to express our support!)