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Friday, October 30, 2020

Nation Shall Not Lift Up Sword Against Nation | By Raphael Kail

I am a water colorist. In 2018, noticing the rise in Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and religious intolerance in general, I had the urge to put something down on paper. I decided on Isaiah 2:4, "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."

Phonetically, the Hebrew reads, "Lo Yisa Goy El Goy Herev, ViloYilmdoo Ode Mealchamaw." "Lo" means "no", "Goy" means "nation," and it also means "other."  In my mind, this word from YHWH was not only intended to move people from war to peace, but was intended to instruct people to get along in general. To follow God’s way, we need to not just coexist, but to respect each other. I created this piece of art.

Two years ago, when the eleven people were murdered in The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, I was strongly affected on two levels. First, as someone who is Jewish, I realized these people died only because they were Jewish, and if I happened to be there for whatever reason, I possibly would have been martyred also.  Second, how could this happen again in America? With permission from my synagogue, Temple Sinai of Dresher, I built a large memorial for the congregation’s front lawn to plead to the world to wake up. I wanted to make a statement.

I did this to honor those who were murdered, but also to plead to our country, stop this madness.
A short while later, two Mosques in Christ Church, New Zealand were attacked, and then a Catholic church in Asia. With Temple Sinai's help, we created a committee with the goal to create, with churches, mosques, and synagogues in our community, a group, to gather, to learn about our differences and identify what we have in common.  Knowledge is the key to understanding others. The committee is The Interfaith Partnership Initiative.  Our committee was short lived because of Covid-19. We are only being temporarily stopped; we will eventually continue!

About Raphael Kail:
I am retired after a career of over forty years in the furniture industry. As a hobby, I have always been good being creative with woodworking, but in 1990, after a lifelong admiration of water colors, I decided to take a class. I have now been in three galleries. For more information on the memorial at Temple Sinai of Dresher, contact Rabbi Adam Wohlberg. 215-643-6510.


  1. Ray - You create beauty not only with your hands, but also with your words and heart. Thank you.

  2. Ray, Thank you for your compassion.
    Ellen S,