Chaya Lester

Hey Arab sister, I’ve got 4,135 days to make peace…

I’ve got a 6 year old son… and, as much as I admire & appreciate the IDF, I’d prefer to NOT send him to the army in 12 years.

That means I have approximately 4,135 days to make peace with 200,000,000 of my closest neighbors.

I will do it one spoken-word rant at a time.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I start that endeavor with this Call to Arms. A uniquely feminine approach to making peace in the Middle East… taking the peace process out of the hands of the politicians and placing it squarely into the palms of we-the-people, the parents, the mothers, the pray’ers.:

“Peace Accords of the Hospital Ward”

Do you remember me my Arab sister
6am frantic panicked
at the hospital in the heart of Jerusalem

We brushed arms as we rushed our girls along
that sickening maze of hallways

for twin bronchoscopies
for our 2 year old princesses

yours had swallowed a bottle cap
and mine had such couching fits
she could hardly breathe

both of them fussy &
fasting from the night before
yet they played together seamlessly, dreamily
on that sterile floor

with their small armies of figurines
enacting scenes
of war and wonder
in the hospital ward
and I wondered
what you thought of their ‘imaginary’ games

as I handed out crackers and raisins
like peace offerings
to you, my distant cousin
both of so sullen, so estranged

and yet we wept in unison
when the nurses came to escort
our angels away…down that endless hallway

put them to sleep one after the other
with tiny matching gas masks
saw them lay limp & unconscious
on that cold steel slab.

Remember how you and I sat
outside the locked metal door
on the blue plastic chairs
– broken, sunken, scared

Perfect strangers
…strong as sisters
…tight as thieves

praying to our respective Gods
the same exact pleas –
for holding healing relief


And that hallway was morphed into
a make-shift mosque
a sudden synagogue
and we were the choir wailing
in a harmony
of mother’s agony

weeping up something holy
right there in the beit holim

out of our minds
with the pining
only known by parents
in cold plastic hospital seats

And I want you to know
that You were my family that day.

Your presence was my haven
I took refuge in your gaze
Soothed by the fact that there in the hospital
we could never be enemies

because we were too busy
battling shared adversaries
of weary, worry
waste and weakness

all we had between us
was our sameness
our sadness
our senseless

Both of us bowed deep
to that same divine
Mender of disease.

And remember
that luminous moment when
our prayers were answers
with the eloquence
of the slowly opening eyelids of our children

and we were elated
& related in shared relief

and you know what
I want to share that ecstatic sentiment with you again
– my cousin, my sister, my friend…

I want to see a day
when both of our families
will be massively relieved
at the end of this surgery
– this treacherous surgery –
known as the conflict in the Middle East.

For make no mistake
this conflict is our common enemy
both of us suffer from this noxious & contagious
communicable disease

So sweet sister, please
let us be focused
& bound by one purpose
the love of kindness
the work of healing
the care for innocence
& children and all that is decent

For my call to arms is not a call to harm
but a call to these holding limbs of hope
that our children might
live in a home
a little more whole
a little more holy
with a lot less hating
and a lot more embracing

where we see no more
terror over territory
shed not blood
but rather tears
of rejoicing
over our shared recovery
from this rank disease.

For the Messianic era
may or may not be at hand
but it might just be in our hands
– that we may outstretch them
to hold each other in our hours of direst need
– just like you did for me….

And here in this hospital
we will broker a lasting peace.

Not by politicians in parliaments
but by parents in blue plastic hospital seats.

Sharing crackers and raisins
and Messianic visions.

And this will be the Peace Accords
of the Hospital Ward;
a place so ironically, iconically
more hospitable to peace

So may it be…

About the Author
Psychotherapist, inspirational speaker, wordsmith, performance artist & Co-Director of Jerusalem's Shalev Center. Chaya lives in the heart of Jerusalem with her husband R'Hillel & their 4 energetic children. Read more pieces like this in real-life book form:
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