I spent last week in Israel on a rabbinic mission sponsored by AIPAC's Educational Foundation. This trip was planned months before three Israeli boys were kidnapped and murdered and one Palestinian boy was burnt alive. That the mission began as the violence escalated can only be defined as bizarre irony. These are my reflections:
It is hard to pray for peace when I rationally know there has never been peace.
It is hard to pray for peace when I lived through three sirens in Jerusalem, and had to go into a shelter -- far away from Gaza.
It is hard to pray for peace when I read messages from my friends in Ashkelon.
It is hard to pray for peace when my smartphone constantly buzzes because more missiles are shot into Israel.
It is hard to pray for peace when I learned last week from a leading Palestinian pollster that an overwhelming majority of Palestinian men, between the ages of 18-34, dream of a one state solution, or a Hamas solution, which all of the land between Jordan and the Mediterranean is Palestinian and Islamic.
It is hard to pray for peace when Israelis openly mock Secretary Kerry and his useless efforts.
It is hard to pray for peace when Israel does not have a partner for peace.
It is hard to pray for peace when Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks truth when he says: We use anti-missile systems to protect civilians. They use civilians to protect their missiles.
There are so many rational reasons why I know peace is not something we can grasp, yet I still pray for peace.
I still pray that innocent Palestinian children be spared.
I still pray that fundamentalists, on both sides of the conflict stop rearing their ugly heads.
I still pray that the PTSD of all involved be minimal.
I still pray that Chairman Abbas makes some good and powerful friends in the international arena who can help him find ways to put the Gazan infrastructure back together and to come to the table ready to compromise.
I still pray that IDF soldiers be able to come home to their families.
The fighting and the killing and blaming needs to stop. Both sides need to find a way to coexist.
I alone cannot solve the conflict, but as a person of faith I hope it will be solved soon.
I am tired of war.
Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin is the spiritual leader of the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism in Queens, New York and in the fifth cohort of Rabbis Without Borders.