18 Shabbat Blessings for Peace in Israel and in Palestine

two shabbat candles are lit as someone's hands wave in the light of Shabbat
Early in the war a friend of mine suggested a daily practice of taking 18 breaths for peace. As 18 means chai, life, in Hebrew numerology, this practice can help us focus on the sacredness of life and offer space for a daily prayer for peace and an end to this war. 
The light of the Shabbat candles is understood in the Jewish mystical tradition to be the Divine light from before the Creation of the world. This light is associated with the Shekhinah, the immanent feminine Divine presence. Lighting Shabbat candles is considered a potent time to add our own personal prayers from the heart. On Shabbat it is said that we are granted an “extra soul” (neshamah yeterah). During this time of war, we might imagine this extra soul as a way to invite the “other” into our hearts, extending empathy and care to all who are suffering. We might even choose to light two extra candles, sending light, peace, and safety to the hostages and their families and to the innocent people of Gaza—all of whom are suffering unjustly. 
These blessings can be used as kavannot (intentions) or meditations before or after the traditional Shabbat candle blessing. We can recite these blessings while feeling the warmth of the candlelight near our hands and sending that light to all who need it, including ourselves.
May this light embrace all who are suffering through war
May this light spread and reach toward the hostages, wrapping them in a protective embrace
May this light illuminate paths of safety and shelter for the people of Gaza
May this light shatter barriers separating food and aid from innocent civilians
May this light open space for the people of Israel and of Palestine to process their grief and anxiety
May this light break open the barriers in our hearts 
May this light soften anger and fear
May this light erase thoughts of revenge
May this light give us strength to stand up against extremists in power
May this light hold gently the traumas of our past and the traumas of our present
May all the people who call Israel and Palestine their home come together to grieve and witness each other’s pain
May we transform our grief into solidarity
May our solidarity pave the way for a shared future
May we nurture the Divine spark in ourselves
May that spark shine out to include our families, friends, neighbors, and all who live on earth
May the Divine light from before Creation inspire us to choose life
May this light empower us to build the future we want to see
May this light guide us on the path toward healing and peace
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