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It seems that the U.S.-backed ceasefire in Lebanon, while fragile, is holding for the moment. I pray that it does, and that families on both sides of the border will be able to return to their homes, rebuilding, and trying to resume their lives.

After the past weeks’ conflict it is difficult to be optimistic. Terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon have proven themselves capable of violent acts of provocation, and Israel has proven itself capable of responding with force, with devastating results for civilian populations and Israel’s international reputation. Astonishingly, the ceasefire terms don’t even stipulate Hezbollah’s return of kidnapped Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose abduction sparked this latest round of violence, to say nothing of Corporal Gilad Shalit, still held in Gaza since his abduction by Hamas in June. Although there is calm for now, it is hard to see any fundamental improvement in the situation that can keep the cycle from flaring up again.

And yet we must hope–hope that the desire to rebuild will surmount the desire to destroy, that the Lebanese people’s desire to live a normal life will turn it against the terrorists that made them into unwitting targets (even as The New York Times reports growing support for Hezbollah among Lebanese), hope that the United States can bring enough pressure to bear through back channels on Syria and Iran, sponsors of Hezbollah in their own cynical power grabs in the Middle East.

And we must pray–pray for the innocent victims on both sides of this conflict that wounds may heal and homes be rebuilt, pray for a spirit of peace, or at least of weariness of bloodshed, to take hold of the people of Lebanon and Israel, pray for the security of Israel so that her people may know the simple joy of living without fear.

And we must act–urge the United Nations to implement its own resolution by sending an actual peacekeeping force capable of restraining Hezbollah’s aggression, send toys and stuffed animals to children in northern Israel whose lives were traumatized by the constant barrage of rocket fire, and support Magen David Adom and other organizations whose emergency response remains critical if this cessation of violence does not hold.

Hope, prayer, and action–teshuvah, tefillah, and tzedakah–are the cornerstones to positive transformation as we head into this season of reflection and renewal. As we prepare ourselves for the Jewish New Year, let us work to ensure a good and safe year for Israel and all its neighbors as well.

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