Rabbi Michelle Dardashti, Brown University

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I’m a rabbi. So when asked what one should do in the face of the horror in Israel and Gaza right now, I emphatically reply: “pray.” But I know that message doesn’t resonate for many and besides, our tradition has more to say.

The Mishna teaches us to be ohavei shalom v’rodphei shalom, lovers of peace and seekers (chasers, more literally) of peace. For American Jews, far away, this teaching is particularly apt; notably, we’re not expected to be osei shalom, doers/makers of peace. (Our liturgy reserves that title—Oseh HaShalom, Maker of Peace—for only The One … who doesn’t seem in a hurry.) We’re charged, it seems, with laying the ground for Shalom by loving and pursuing this Divine attribute. Some thoughts on how we might do so:

All of this brings us back to the text with which I opened, the next clause of which instructs us to be ohev et habriyot, lovers of all God’s creatures.  If there is ever to be real peace—between Arabs and Jews and between Jews and Jews—we must push ourselves to hear, see and feel the place of the “other” – Palestinian civilian in Gaza, Jew on the right/left, soldier enlisted to fight, parent cradling a scared child amidst sounds of war – be willing to hear her narrative, understand his fear, feel her pain, argue their side….

So by all means, pray – but don’t stop there. Don’t just love peace, pursue it. Chase it down any way you can.

Michelle Dardashti is the Rabbi at Brown RISD Hillel and Associate Chaplain for the Jewish Community at Brown University.  


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