‘I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” said President Joe Biden following news of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

As the latest geographic conflict between Israel and the Palestinians came to a halt, my mind drifted back to a quieter and more peaceful time visiting Jerusalem’s Old City.

The highlight of my two trips to Israel was a visit to the holiest site in the Jewish faith – the Western Wall.

At the sacred site, as a tourist, a civilian, and most importantly, a Jew, I wrapped myself in tefillin, prayed for world peace and placed a note between the ancient limestone cracks.

I was fulfilling a prophecy that my grandfather never had the opportunity to do at the same age due to the nearly 20 years the eastern portion of Jerusalem was under Jordanian control, barring Jews from the Old City.

When reflecting on those past travels to the Land of Milk and Honey, my heart also aches for the innocent lives lost on both sides, and the families that are left to pick up the pieces.

As a civilian living in the diaspora, I can sympathize with the people whose lives are so often at risk. Through them, I feel connected to Israel.

Delaware native Natalie Sopinsky, a mother of five and a first responder who lives near Hebron, spoke about being on the ground during the crisis.

“Every time war occurs here, which is every five years on average, all Israelis are affected. No matter what role we play in life. The fact that we are first responders...well...we feel it more in some ways because we now have a new crisis on our hands. We are responders. Reacters. We get called, we come running,” said the director of development for Rescuers Without Borders – Hatzalah.

Andrea (Milstone) Dray, a resident of Yokneam, Israel, made aliyah nearly 25 years ago from Sunrise, Florida.

Regardless of unrest in her homeland, Dray would not live anywhere else.

“On a very personal level, it angers me that we can’t be left alone to live in peace. Although it is quite frightening at times, I have complete faith in Israel’s military to do what has to be done in order to restore normalcy to the country as a whole.

“All in all I still feel blessed to be living in Israel.”

My dream is for the day I can return to the Western Wall and pray once again for eternal peace.

Alan Goch is the editor of the South Florida Jewish Journal, the largest weekly Jewish newspaper in the U.S., and has been with the publication 30 years.