Welcoming a New Year
Summer should be a time for us to relax, enjoy, travel, go to camp, spend time with family. I hope you and your family have had such a summer, but as summer ends, fall begins and Rosh Hashana approaches, we should know that it has not been so in Israel or for Israel. It has not been so for Jews in Europe and it has not been so in some Jewish communities around the United States. It may not be relaxing or peaceful either for the youth of our congregation who will travel to college campuses and worry about the organized anti-Israel organizations in places where they should be able to go just to study.
This summer has been one of the most emotionally draining times that I can ever remember for Israel and for the entire Jewish people. As I write this article, a new 5-day cease fire has begun. I hope by the time you get this newsletter, quiet, shalom, has returned to Israel and her borders.
Throughout this summer thousands of rockets and missiles have been aimed at our family in Israel, reaching now throughout the entire country, while Israel is criticized for her very right to defend herself. Hamas, a terrorist organization, still refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist and holds its own population hostage. This all happens in the broader context of Iran continuing its development of nuclear grade weapons, and ISIS surrounding and killing minorities in Iraq.
The other unsettling news is that this conflict has now empowered and emboldened a new anti-Semitism around the world. We are all aware, I hope you know, that to be anti-Israel today is the newest form and disguise of being anti-Semitic.
Throughout Europe, this new anti-Semitism has been going on for a while, but has become more dramatic over the past few months—in Paris and Brussels, in Frankfort and Casablanca, in London and the Netherlands.
But lest we think that these events are only taking place in Europe, we need to be mindful of what is happening in our our own country.
In midtown Manhattan, downtown Boston and Philadelphia, in San Francisco, Boca Raton and Los Angeles we hear the Hamas phrase, “from the ocean to the sea,” alluding to the idea of throwing all of us into the sea.
Is this any way to enter a new year? No wonder our tradition asks us to recite the prayer, “May the past year with all its curses end, and may the New Year with all its blessing begin.”
In just a few weeks, we will gather for Rosh Hashana, and hear the sound of the shofar. The shofar calls us to the challenges of this new year, of standing with Israel, and standing against anti-Semitism.
The best way to accept these challenges is in community, our community.
During the holidays, we will do so by introducing our theme for the coming year—We Are MJCBY. We will explore just who we are as the families and individuals of our congregation. You will hear more of this theme at the holidays and in our newsletters throughout this year and beyond.
As MJCBY, we will have much to do, much to learn, much to experience, as we accept the challenges that face our community, here, throughout America, in Europe and in Israel.
So let the blessings of the New Year now begin.
Rabbi David Nesson