The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova 5770


17th September 2009 – Rosh Hashana 5770

Incredibly another year has passed. We have been misunderstood and loved; maligned and lauded; proud and ashamed; stood tall and bent our heads before bullies. We must understand who and what we are in order to stay a strong people and continue “Tikun Olam” – making this world a better place. Breast-beating is not sufficient.

It was hard choosing what to wish for you and your families, over and above the obvious. My wish list responds to the Goldstone Report and the general rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.

Know who you are so no-one can tell you that you are someone else.

Learn our history, our Bible, our moral code, our sages, our example, our science, our physical presence and contribution to the countries we live in.

Never be afraid to say “I am a Jew”.

Lies and calumny cannot change reality, so be prepared to stand up, write up and speak out before the lies become the assumed truth.

Do not suffer censorship in the name of religion. Hiding our teachings or our history cannot be tolerated in order to appease others. There is room in this world for every form of worship and thought; if we all accept those who are different to us, within and without – and are accepted by them in return.

Israel is a fine country built on the land of our ancestors, where, despite the exile Jews have lived for 3,000 years, and a fine example of democracy and freedom. Certainly one of the most beautiful countries, Israel has indisputably made the greatest contribution to modern intellectual and medical knowledge.

Remember that it is not a sin to defend yourself. Prepare for war but pray for peace and work toward it with all your heart. Had the Goldstone Commission looked into the Second World War, or Afghanistan, Korea, Iraq or Waterloo, they would have found that the standards of conduct would not be to their liking either. The Commission ignored the cruelty of Arab to Arab and chose to denigrate Israel.

Raise your pens and take action to change perceptions. Ensure that the world knows that an Israeli house is just as important as a Palestinian one.

Take time to teach your children from whence they came so that they will know to reach into their future.

Dream great dreams because without great dreams we lose hope.

The supermarkets and shopping malls are full to bursting as all Israel searches for gifts for the Festivals, new clothes for the children and food, food, food. The aromas of diverse cultures, each of whom brought their epicurean traditions with varying levels of spiciness, depending upon how far north their families found respite before coming home, testify to the fact that the intense cooking has started. The predominant smell is that of blackened aubergine and peppers – the precursors to all salads! Tomorrow the soups begin – the fish is fried, the tables set. Homes are sparkling, the white tablecloths hanging on washing lines ready for family gatherings on Friday night and Shabbat and Sunday and the “Selichot” (repentance) prayers have been said. Thousands came from all over Israel to pray at the Western Wall and to walk the stones of history, our history. Jerusalem is preparing for a new year, a fresh start and deep prayer for greater justice and equality in our deeply flawed but incredibly hopeful world.

If I have hurt or harmed you in any way during 5769 then I apologise. I never intentionally hurt anyone, but such is the way of human behaviour and I promise to do better in the coming year.

To Uri Scharf – I hope you see that I already gave you enough “air”!

Zvi and I wish you a joyous year of health and fulfillment, traditions and blessings, family and friends.

Shana Tova u mevorach (a Happy and blessed New Year)