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Notre Dame students in Israel relocated, campus holds prayer service

| Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Notre Dame students who were studying abroad in Jerusalem this semester have been relocated to other Notre Dame International locations, according to a statement released Tuesday by University President Fr. John Jenkins. 

“We will continue to support our relocated students and ensure that their transitions are as smooth as possible,” the statement said. “We have temporarily suspended our study abroad program at Tantur and will continue to assess the situation as it develops.”

As of Tuesday night, the Wall Street Journal reported Israeli authorities updated the death toll to 1,200 following a barrage of attacks from Hamas over the weekend that ignited a war between the Palestinian terrorist and political group and Israel.

Hamas’ invasion into Israel from the Palestinian enclave Gaza has seen the terrorist group launch multiple rocket attacks throughout the country, open fire into crowds, invade homes and take civilians hostage. Israel responded to the incursion with ongoing airstrikes in Gaza, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that Israeli retaliation against Hamas will “reverberate for generations.”

In response to the conflict, Campus Ministry hosted a prayer service Tuesday evening at the new Our Lady of the Lake World Peace Plaza.

Fr. Pete McCormick presided over the service that included a communal prayer for peace, readings from the Torah, Quran and Bible and lighting of candles at the Grotto. 

“We live in a world where there’s terrible conflict and violence. We remember the victims tonight,” Jenkins said before giving the opening prayer. “We can’t stop that, but what we can do here is witness this something else: the understanding, the love, the unity in the midst of all our differences.”

After the opening prayer, senior Atara Greenbaum, sophomore Saif Elmaleh and junior Amir Khouzam read passages from the Torah, Quran and Bible, respectively. 

Greenbaum’s passage from the Book of Isaiah spoke of transforming weapons of violence into tools used for the good of the world and ending conflict between nations. 

Elmaleh read from the 60th chapter of the Quran in Arabic, and then he explained the direct translation into English. “God does not forbid people from acting justly towards those who have not fought them nor expelled them from their homes”, he explained. 

Gabrielle Beechert | The Observer
Prayer service attendees gather around The World Peace Plaza fountain as choral program director Jonathan Hehn leads a hymn.

“God loves those who act justly,” Elmaleh said during his reading. “Conversely, God holds accountable those who act in an unjust and unrighteous manner. So let us strive to treat one another with just[ice] and righteousness.”

Khouzam then read a passage from the book of Ephesians. The reading described that different peoples can come together as “fellow citizens with the Holy Land and members of the household of God.”

“I think it’s really important that they’re doing this service and they’re inviting all the different faiths to really talk about peace, especially in a time like this,” Greenbaum said. “It’s really needed and it’s really important at this time that we come together.”

After the readings, McCormick invited choral program director Jonathan Hehn to lead those attending the prayer service in a call and response hymn. Hehn asked attendees to gather around him and the plaza’s fountain before leading the hymn. 

Following the hymn’s conclusion, assistant director of faith and justice Becky Czarnecki led the group in a reflection of how attendees may pray in light of the ongoing conflict. She mentioned those who have died, those who are suffering and those who are missing loved ones, as well as the communities that have been destroyed. 

Her prayer also asked that compassion and wisdom guide the work of politicians who seek peace. 

“We lift up to our God all victims of the current conflict, for an end to the cycle of violence throughout the world and for lasting peace with justice,” she said. 

McCormick began his concluding remarks by inviting attendees to light a candle at the Grotto, but he also asked everyone to consider some calls to actions, such as engaging with the different scholars and professors on campus who may have insights how to live a life of faith and builders of peace in the world. 

“How beautiful it is for us to ponder how it is that those gathered here in just a few short moments will return to the daily tasks of life. But might we do so just a little bit differently?” he said. “Might we do so mindful of the unique call that all of us have been given to be stewards of this world and the builders of the kingdom, builders of peace and so with that, I offer you that for your own consideration.”

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About Gabrielle Beechert

Gabrielle is currently a senior at Notre Dame majoring in neuroscience and behavior with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She currently serves as Assistant Managing Editor at The Observer.

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