A renewed outbreak of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has already claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and displaced many more.
As humanitarian forces work to bring aid to the region and diplomats work towards some sort – any sort – of peace or stabilization in the region, the situation seems to sit on a knife’s edge.
Amidst this tragedy, people of all religions are turning their voices to prayer – often in remarkable ways.
Note: If you haven't had a chance yet, check out our overview of the religious history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which traces the religious roots of the conflict from the tribal warfare in the region over 2,000 years ago, to the Zionist movement of the 20th century, to recent eruptions of violence.
Synagogues Ring Out
Across the globe, Jewish prayers for peace have been heard. In synagogues around the world, the Jewish community grieved for the loss of life and prayed for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Middle East.
"The world deserves better, the Palestinian people deserve better and we need to do better," said Rabbi Daniel Fellman of Temple Sinai. "They are all our brothers and sisters, and when one of us hurts, we all hurt. If we can't see that we share this earth, that we share God's love, ... then we are doomed to live the curse of Cain and Abel again and again."
And on Thursday, the group Jewish Voice for Peace demonstrated at the U.S. Capitol, many adorned in shirts reading “Jews say ceasefire now,” playing shofars and singing songs of peace in both English and Hebrew.
Calling on President Biden to push for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the raucous protest ultimately led to some 300 protesters arrested by Capitol police.
Muslims Pray in High Profile Places
Similarly, the global Muslim community has been protesting and praying for an end to the violence between Hamas and Israel.
In the UK, a remarkable scene played out when Muslim protesters stopped to hold a mass prayer outside Downing Street in London.
In Washington D.C., Muslim worshipers gathered on the National Mall to pray for a ceasefire:
Catholics Join In
In New York City, a public procession of Catholics marched through the streets of Manhattan in solidarity and prayer.
Setting off from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the seat of the Archdiocese of New York, dozens of Catholic priests from around the world led a procession of hundreds (or potentially thousands – estimates vary) through the busy rush hour streets, as bystanders kneeled in solidarity with the group.
Pontiff Adds His Voice
Pope Francis joined the chorus of prayers for peace during his weekly Angelus prayer:
However, not all Catholics see prayer as enough to resolve the violence.
Last week, in the hopes of making a more direct impact, a cardinal serving as the Catholic Church's representative in Jerusalem personally offered to be exchanged for hostages being held in Gaza. It's unclear if Hamas will take him up on it, though.
What is your reaction? Do you think prayer has a part to play in the quest for peace?