Earlier this week, I stood with members of the Rhode Island community at the Jewish Community Center in Providence and joined with our Jewish neighbors lamenting the horrific attacks on civilians in Israel and praying for peace. Since that evening, the news has grown increasingly dire and I am fearful, as are many, that this conflict will continue to escalate and spread across the Middle East.
Israel has a fundamental right to exist and to protect itself. And all life is sacred and must be preserved. I ask your prayers for de-escalation, for a humanitarian response, and for an end to the violence and unimaginable suffering in the Holy Land in this hour.
I ask you also to be careful to avoid any attempts to turn this horrible and complex situation into a simple binary us versus them narrative. Our Jewish neighbors are in danger, in deep grief and shock. One synagogue in Providence has been threatened. That sense of fear may spread in the coming weeks to our Muslim neighbors and their friends as well.
I also want to urge you to be aware that an increasing amount of disinformation is being posted to Social Media. When you are seeking understanding, please turn to professional journalists who have checked facts rather than initial reports from unknown observers. Be careful not to spread disinformation unintentionally.
The Bishops of the Episcopal Church have heard from Archbishop Hosam Naoum, Primate of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East. He has asked us to pray urgently for the opening of a humanitarian corridor into Gaza. He has also asked us to support the Gaza Appeal of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which is providing critical support to Ahli Hospital in Gaza. (https://afedj.org)
I invite Episcopalians across the state to join with me in prayer this weekend. Archbishop Hosam has written a prayer that we can use.
O God of all justice and peace we cry out to you in the midst of the pain and trauma of violence and fear which prevails in the Holy Land.
Be with those who need you in these days of suffering; we pray for people of all faiths – Jews, Muslims and Christians and for all people of the land.
While we pray to you, O Lord, for an end to violence and the establishment of peace, we also call for you to bring justice and equity to the peoples. Guide us into your kingdom where all people are treated with dignity and honour as your children for, to all of us, you are our Heavenly Father.
In Jesus’ name we pray.