Prayer for Peace, Malcolm Steinberg

Prayer for Peace, Rosh Hashanah Torah and Musaf Service, 5781 by Malcolm Steinberg, September 20, 2020.

Greetings fellow congregants and thank you Rabbi Dresner for this honour to offer this Rosh Hashanah peace prayer. It is wonderful to be with you and others gathered here today in our Bayit at this time of social isolation, and to share our privilege to be on these unceded Coast Salish territories.

On this Rosh Hashanah we find ourselves immersed in tumultuous times shaped by the intersecting events of the unrelenting pandemic of COVID-19, the ever-increasing visibility of racial social injustices, and the more frequent expressions of climate change. This Rosh Hashanah is surely a time for deep reflection as we consider and offer our prayers for inner and outer peace.
Here I refer to descriptions of outer peace as societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence and a state of reconciliation between parties at variance. I refer to descriptions of inner peace as inner calmness, tranquility – a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge, understanding and resilience to keep oneself strong in the face of discord or stress.
On this Rosh Hashanah we pray for a greater sense of outer peace. In doing so, we are likely to take note of the recent diplomatic agreements signed between Israel and Bahrain and Israel and the UAE. At the same time, we should also note that these events may deepen the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and serve to further isolate and alienate the Palestinian people from their rights to self-determination and co-existence. Let us pray that further developments towards peace in the middle east will allow real opportunities for Israeli-Palestinian co-existence to emerge.
A focus on outer peace is also likely to include our yearning for peaceful resolution of racial tensions and conflicts in all their forms and expressions, as experienced by Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. This will require each of us to question and interrogate our relationship to and involvement with ongoing racism. As we do so, I pray that we can consider outer peace as a social contract. A contract that we make as individuals with society to create real and accountable anti-racism practice. And in doing so we consider and recognize the social contract is essentially broken and that because it is broken those who experience racism have lost faith in the social contract and are finding it challenging to contain their frustration, despair and anger. Let us pray that we can renegotiate and rebuild our social contract recognizing that this will involve the interdependence of conflict and cooperation. Let us pray that we can re-establish trust in a social contract that is capable of addressing inequities and creating, supporting and maintaining equality, fairness and social justice.
I pray, too, for the strengthening of our inner peace, and the expressions of inner peace through fulfillment, wholeness, harmony, and well-being. I pray that we find commitment to continue seeking inner peace and to experience inner peace as a state of consciousness.

We are blessed to have the Or Shalom community as a sukkat shalom – a canopy of peace. I pray that we will soon have the opportunity to re-welcome our members and whomever wishes to be part of this canopy of peace.