Praying for peace in a city of tension

Elizabeth Hersh is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel (TE), and a blogger on the Jewish Light’s website (

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

As I write this, there is a great deal of speculation about when the Grand Jury will hand down its decision. Schools and places of worship have sent out emails and letters. Community leaders are hoping for and calling for the decision to be read on a weekend. Sadly, many fear the worst. And depending upon who you ask, that means something different to each individual.

I am praying for peace. By peace, I am speaking about a wholeness that society has been lacking for perhaps forever. We are shattered. We are broken as individuals, communities and as a greater world. We discuss the morals and virtues that each religion and race extolls. Many are working tirelessly to bring about the efforts of their hands where we can hold hands in peace and harmony regardless of gender, age, color, religion or nationality. Yet, others work against these very efforts. The visions of the prophets, the insights of human decency are lost on prejudice and a taste for war. 

There is much anger and misunderstandings on all sides. Sometimes I question if we really want peace or if this discord keeps us adrift? People are unhappy. Feelings of pride and disappointment spill out into movements of aggression and hatred. Where does it end? Rather, the question should be, where does it begin? My friends, it begins with a single person. In the words on my tradition, “Seek peace and pursue it.”