As the sun sets, marking the beginning of Shabbat, a day known for “shalom,” peace, I think it’s fitting that President Barak Obama today should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Not only was this morning the time when Jews in the U.S. were preparing for Shabbat and 25 hours of peace but they also were preparing for the last days of the holiday of Sukkot. In Judaism, on Shabbat and on Sukkot we pray for God to give us a “sukkat shalom,” a booth or tabernacle of peace. I like the translation that equates this temporary structure to wings – like angel’s wings or Divine wings that surround us – of peace; it says, “Spread over all of us, wings of peace, sukkat shalom.”
It seems to me that just as President Obama admitted today that he was given this award for what he will do, we all must do take his lead and build our own sukkat shalom. We must build shelters of peace in our own lives and in our communities and throughout the world, just as he is doing, to help create peace on both a small and large scale. The Presidents Nobel Prize is a challenge to continue his work, and we, too, must take the challenge and become change agents, peace agents.
many people complained that the president hadn’t done enough to deserve the award. More then likely they didn’t receive the letter he sent to his supporters, in which he admitted to feeling the same way…but he didn’t stay stuck there. He went on to see the real meaning…the real challenge…of the awared. His letter said:
This morning, Michelle and I awoke to some surprising and humbling news. At 6 a.m., we received word that I’d been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.
To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
But I also know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.
That is why I’ve said that I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations and all peoples to confront the common challenges of the 21st century. These challenges won’t all be met during my presidency, or even my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it’s recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.
This award — and the call to action that comes with it — does not belong simply to me or my administration; it belongs to all people around the world who have fought for justice and for peace. And most of all, it belongs to you, the men and women of America, who have dared to hope and have worked so hard to make our world a little better.
So today we humbly recommit to the important work that we’ve begun together. I’m grateful that you’ve stood with me thus far, and I’m honored to continue our vital work in the years to come.
President Barack Obama
On this Shabbat of Sukkot, will you accept the call to action? Will you create peace, first, on Shabbat? And will you, second, create peace long after your sukkah has been taken down? Will you create sukkat shalom…wings of peace…in your own way? Will you be a peace agent?