Rabbi Mark Blazer | Maintaining Hope for Peace

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Again. Now this time even closer. Another Shabbat. Saturday, April 27, the end of Passover, another day that should be filled with peace and rest, was marred by hatred, bloodshed and murder.

We are still mourning the slaughter of Christian worshippers last Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, and reeling from the shock of the murder and devastation at mosques in New Zealand. Remember, all of these massacres have happened in the last six months to the day since the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

In addition, there are ongoing anti-Semitic attacks throughout Europe, persecution of Rohingya worshippers in Myanmar, and violence directed at Christian worshippers, which has become an accepted way of life in North Africa, Pakistan and many countries where they have minority status. The scale and frequency of death is traumatizing. Religious hatred seems to be at an all-time high.

For those of us who live in the comfortable and safe communities in this area remember this summer is the 20th anniversary of the shooting at the North Valley JCC, just a few miles from our homes. In August 1999, a white supremacist opened fire on adults, and primarily children. 

The ironic tragedy that buildings that are supposed to be safe sanctuaries have been instead turned into places of such gruesome violence makes us question many aspects of our society, politics and basic humanity.

For those of us who are inspired by faith, who believe that we are not here through random chance, we do not have the option to say that this is the way it has to be, the way it is supposed to be, or even the way it is most days, for most of us.

We still have far to go but we live in an era where there is amazing cooperation between faith groups. Throughout the world, especially in the face of these tragedies, religious denominations have united in solidarity to reaffirm our common commitment to peace. 

In our own community we have Family Promise, which brings together congregations to help the homeless. On a regular basis we feel the strength of this interreligious support. Just days ago Temple Beth Ami celebrated our Seder at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, who graciously allowed us to use their space the night before Easter.

At that celebration and at Passover Seders around the world, we took a moment to open our doors and welcome the prophet Elijah. In our tradition the prophet is the messenger of the Messianic Era, and it is his honor to announce the arrival of a time of peace and security for all. Some holidays it seems so far off.  

Yet, the next words we say are: “Ani ma’amin b’emunah shelyamah… I believe in a perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and although he may tarry, nevertheless, I wait every day for that day to come.”

I believe in a perfect faith that while this tragedy makes it seem still far off, the day will come when every person, everywhere, will live free from fear, in a world at peace.

Rabbi Mark Blazer is the rabbi of Temple Beth Ami in Santa Clarita.

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