November 2023

A Message from the FOTONNA Steering Committee

At the center of our reality today is a groan, the kind that can’t be verbalized, the kind we draw our breath in pain to say, the kind that comes from a deep ache in our hearts.

We are all deeply troubled by the events taking place in Palestine and Israel and struggle to find words when none seem adequate.  There are times at which we can utter only “sighs too deep for words,” as Paul, the Apostle, put it. That sentiment certainly resonates with us as we acknowledge the horrible violence in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank.

“Suffering is God’s megaphone to the world,” cried out C.S. Lewis. May we be among those with ears that hear and a heart that feels the pain being senselessly inflicted. May we be among those who yearn, pray, and act to see the cycle of violence finally stopped and root causes addressed. Meanwhile, God groans with us and works within and among us to keep hope alive, enabling us to stand with one another and hold each other up to the light – the Nassars and all the people of the holy land.

In her poem, “Hymn for the Hurting,” Amanda Gorman writes:

Everything hurts,
Our hearts shadowed and strange,
Minds made muddied and mute.
We carry tragedy, terrifying and true.
And yet none of it is new;
We knew it as home,
As horror,
As heritage.
Even our children
Cannot be children,
Cannot be.
Everything hurts.
It’s a hard time to be alive,
And even harder to stay that way.
We’re burdened to live out these days,
While at the same time, blessed to outlive them.

This alarm is how we know
We must be altered —
That we must differ or die,
That we must triumph or try.
Thus while hate cannot be terminated,
It can be transformed
Into a love that lets us live.
May we not just grieve, but give:
May we not just ache, but act;
May our signed right to bear arms
Never blind our sight from shared harm;
May we choose our children over chaos.
May another innocent never be lost.
Maybe everything hurts,
Our hearts shadowed & strange.
But only when everything hurts
May everything change.

We are thankful for you, our partners, on this road where we can lament and share our hurts,

The FOTONNA Steering Committee:

Charlie Lewis (Chair) with Daoud Nassar (Director), Mark Braverman, Joan Deming, Bill Mims, Nadia Itraish McGeough, Beth Moore, Mike Phillips, Bill Plitt, Heidi Saikaly, and Andie Sweetman

Tent of Nations
-People Building Bridges-,
Facebook: Tent of Nations/Nassar farm

“A Prayer for Peace,” by Mark Braverman

Oct 21, 2023

(a Jewish prayer written for an interfaith lament service for the people of Gaza and Israel)

I pray for all of us.

I pray for us to be able to look out from behind our eyes, from behind our habitual and learned perceptions and feelings, beyond the images of suffering and violence and shouting that beset and pummel us at every turn.

To see truly, to the heart of things, the heart of humanity, the beating, shimmering heart of humanity.

Beyond us and them.

Beyond revenge, protection, safety.

Beyond settling the score.

Beyond what they have done to us.

The rabbis wrote: she who saves one life, it is as if she has saved the whole world.

We are one. He who hurts another, hurts himself.

In the synagogue we pray: God, spread over us the tabernacle of your Peace. Literally, in the Hebrew, pros aleynu sukkat shlomecha. Shelter us in the sukkah of your peace. We have just passed through the Jewish festival of sukkot, where we build temporary shelters in our backyards and porches and rooftops to commemorate the wanderings in the desert on our journey from enslavement to freedom. The catastrophe that has gathered us here today began on the first day of sukkot, just two weeks ago.

The flimsiness of the sukkah reminds us of the vulnerability of life, the fragility of safety, our responsibility to safeguard the pricelessness of peace. Not through war, not through defensiveness, but through the preservation of that which is most precious, most vulnerable.

Spread over us your sukkah of peace. Do not let us lose hold of what is most precious and what is most easily forgotten: the unity of all humankind. Do not let us forget the truth that the Rev. Martin Luther King reminded us of, that “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the most sacred day in the Jewish calendar, when we acknowledge the overwhelming power of God’s commandment to do justice, alongside of the equally limitless power of forgiveness, we proclaim, “Let the great shofar be sounded, and a small, quiet voice be heard.”

It is the voice of our hearts, beating in the rhythm of all of humanity. It is the voice that speaks to us from behind our eyes, from above our feelings of fear and hurt and injury,

A voice deeper, fiercer, more powerful than the blast of the shofar, than the clash of weapons and the thunder of bombs. The voice that connects us to all life.

To the heart of our humanity, the beating, shimmering heart of humanity.

A voice calling us to see:

Beyond us and them.

Beyond revenge, protection, safety.

Beyond settling the score.

Beyond what they have done to us.

This is my prayer for my people, today, especially, urgently, today:

We are one. He who hurts another, hurts himself.

Mark Braverman
FOTONNA Senior Consultant


With Heart & HandRecently, Tree of Life Educational Fund (TOLEF) graciously agreed to become FOTONNA’s Fiscal Sponsor. This means that if you wish to give a tax-deductible gift of $250 or more, you may make a gift to TOLEF which they will allocate to FOTONNA.

It will continue to be possible to give directly to FOTONNA online or by check.

For directions about how to give, either directly to FOTONNA OR through our Fiscal Sponsor, visit the FOTONNA website and choose the “Take Action” tab in the menu at the top, and then select “make a contribution”.  On this page you will see the two options for giving. The first one shown is for making the gift to FOTONNA directly, the second one provides directions for making a tax-deductible contribution of $250 or more through TOLEF for FOTONNA.

The loss of life we are seeing in Gaza has created great trauma and uncertainty for people throughout the Holy Land.  However, signs of faith, hope, and love continue to be expressed there. Tent of Nations, standing on a hill outside of Bethlehem, is one such beacon of hope: a place where all are welcome, no one is seen as enemy, and where our connection and care for the earth is lived out.

We ask you to continue sending the gift of your spiritual support for the Nassar family. If you wish to make a financial gift, and have any questions about how to do so, please feel free to contact: Beth Moore, FOTONNA’s Finance Co-Director,

Mike Phillips

FOTONNA Finance Co-Director

We are Grateful to be on the FOTONNA road with you!

Thank you for all the ways that you are leaning into the wind, walking with the
Nassars on their “journey for justice with faith, love, and hope in action.”

Daoud wants you to know that he and his family deeply appreciate your
expressions of concern and care; they are physically safe and continue to
care for the farm. In this season of turmoil and devastation, he asks for your
continued prayers for all God’s children of Israel and Palestine.

Heidi Saikaly
Joan Deming

FOTONNA Steering Committee Communications Team