Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Public Thoughts To be Read At The Rosh Hashanah Table

Rosh Hashanah 2011— Year 5772 of proud Jewish history

By Talia Carner

The New Year has always been a time of reflection about life within the broader context of one's relationship with others and one’s relationship with God—or the moral values by which each of us chooses to live. It has been a time of spiritual reconnection with Jewish traditions and of remembering those who, over generations of persecution, were killed for the single sin of their faith.

The tradition of eating sweet foods carries with it the optimism of a sweet new year. A new beginning, a chance to start over.

All across the globe, Jews share these moments—and the hope carried in them. This sharing of rituals ties us all together and remind us that no Jew is ever alone.

Yet, as a community, we are alone. Friends of the Jews come and go, their loyalty never taken for granted. This year, Rosh Hashanah falls all too close to the Jew hate-fest that has seized the world, with its official governing body controlled by those committed to excising the roots of Jewish history and identity and thus removing them from their land. The new wave of anti-Semitism has already swept through Europe, Africa and Asia, and has landed right in our midst at the Manhattan's UN building, while it has long metastasized into leading universities, mainstream media and civic organizations claiming to be unbiased and inclusive.

Now Rosh Hashanah stands to remind us that hate can come knocking on our door first with words, with erasing of our history, with biased resolutions and economic boycotts, and then with guns, bombs, and showers of thousands of rockets that no empty promises of “never again” may be able to stop.

Let the fresh start of Rosh Hashanah therefore remind us how much pride we take in Israel’s extraordinary achievements in science, agriculture and technology—efficiencies, discoveries and inventions she has shared for decades with over 120 countries to help nourish children, improve global food production, and leap medical practices to better the lives of millions daily.

Israel makes us walk tall. Without her, Jews would have been like the Gypsies and Kurds of the world.

Yet, she is now in mortal danger of a war orchestrated by enemies delighted to sacrifice the lives of millions of their people to see the Jews disappear from the Middle East.

As we move into the New Year, let us bless all the good things the world has given us while we send our prayers for those who have already been taking the first bullet for us, and will continue to do so to preserve a home for all Jews persecuted in their countries. And as we do so, let us search within ourselves whether we have done all we could for Israel and its people who need us now more than ever.

A couple of years ago, Israel’s president Shimon Peres said that even Ben-Gurion had not dreamed big enough. Let us dream big tonight—stretch our dreams to encompass all the vast possibilities of hope, and let us dream tonight of a world of peace.

Let’s bless all the good things God has given us so far, and celebrate our resilience and our heritage of strong Jewish values that we have shared with the world over for centuries. And let's allow that dream bring joy to our hearts and to our Rosh Hashanah table.


Author, speaker and activist Talia Carner lives in New York. Her latest novel, Jerusalem Maiden (HarperCollins, June 2011) is set in the early 1900 at the end of the Ottoman Empire rule of the Holy Land (

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