The traditional prayer for the state of IsraelLit. ''the one who struggles with God.'' Israel means many things. It is first used with reference to Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:29), the one who struggles with God. Jacob's children, the Jewish people, become B'nai Israel, the children of Israel. The name also refers to the land of Israel and the State of Israel., which is more literally titled “A Prayer for Peace for the State,” tefilahLit. Prayer lish’lom hamedinah, was written in 1948 by the chief rabbis of what had up until then been Palestine, in a time of war. The state was under direct attack by the Arab armies, and there was little distinction between peace, survival, and victory.
As we approach Israel’s 70th birthday, it is time to make such distinctions. Israel and the Jewish people live in a much more complex reality today, a democratic reality, where the triumph of one political party or set of goals can change the outlook for peace, and the possibility of justice. In our time, praying for peace for Israel must include praying for the rectification of its relationships with neighboring countries, and with the Palestinian people, some of whom are Israeli citizens, and most of whom are in some way under Israel’s control.
This prayer assumes that the best reality for the Jewish state is also the best reality for all of her citizens and for everyone who lives “in the land,” no matter where they are in relation to the Green Line or Areas A, B, and C.