The High Holy Days are the most intense, introspective and deeply emotional days of the year in the Jewish calendar.
These days begin with Rosh Hashanah and conclude with Yom Kippur.
Thank God, the missiles have finally stopped coming in from Gaza and the strong response from Israel has concluded.
Fifty days of war and devastation have come to an end, for now.
Now the hard work begins: finding voices for peace and partners for peace.
During the long summer months, we all heard lots of analysis as to who was responsible for the death and destruction that took place in Israel and Gaza. No one should take any joy in what happened. Human life has been wasted and so much spent on weapons of war.
Imagine what could be done with such funds and energy if only they were turned to healing and peace, to health and reconciliation.
How can we improve the lives of the Palestinian population of Gaza who have suffered tremendous losses of life and property under the tyrannical rule of Hamas, while also allowing the citizens of Israel to live without constant fear of rocket and tunnel attacks?
So far, thank God, the cease-fire has proven durable and Israelis and Palestinians are emerging from the darkness that engulfed them for nearly two months.
The cease-fire also offers an opportunity for parties to urgently address the root causes of the violence including the very heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, notably the occupation.
Without doing so, we are likely to see Hamas come back stronger and with better weapons, as was the case following the two prior conflicts in recent years. This would again lead to further bloodshed and loss of life.
Substantive proposals include the demilitarization of Hamas and the construction of an airport and sea port in Gaza. Such developments would be a major step forward to building a new and better future for Gaza while also protecting the people of Israel.
As Jews, our primary love and loyalty goes out to our brothers and sisters in our spiritual homeland of Israel. It pains us to acknowledge once again, Israelis and Palestinians have stared into the abyss, and seen there is no military solution to their conflict. This latest round of awful bloodshed has ended without winners -- only with losers.
And yet, there is no alternative.
Neither Jews nor Arabs are leaving.
Neither have anywhere to go.
For each, the land is a fundamental part of their people's narrative. The hard question is can both people come to accept each other's narrative? If not, there will never be peace.
I pray no one on either side is willing to accept war as a permanent reality. There must be a commitment to building peace, as hard and complex, and painful as that may be.
Temple Beth El welcomes everyone to join us for Yom Kippur worship on the holiest day of our Jewish year.
May God bless us in this new year 5775 with reconciliation, healing and shalom.
Rabbi Harold Caminker: 941-755-4900 (Temple), 941-806-9925 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org (email). Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.