Ervin Birnbaum is rabbi emeritus at the Masorti congregation Bet Israel in Netanya and the founder and director of the Russian outreach program Shearim.
A brief plea and suggestion:
If you have the opportunity on Rosh Hashana when most of your family members are together, or possibly soon thereafter, before you begin a meal, you may perhaps wish to express the following thought (with slight changes in the Diaspora):
We are thankful to be here in our own Jewish Land where we can celebrate the advent of a New Year, especially now, when the climate of antagonism in the world resembles in so many details the fatal year 1939. We can be here and we can celebrate thanks to young people like those who laid their lives on the line in the recent war in Gaza, to whom we owe an expression of eternal gratitude. We can be here and we can celebrate because we are in our one and only independent sovereign Jewish State from which all the hatred of the world will not move us.
We know well how false were the blood libels pinned on our People during the ages, despite their widespred acceptance among the nations.
We equally know how false are their accusations of our cruelties in the recent war, despite their widespred acceptance among the nations.
We know that we pretty much stand alone, dependent on our inner unity and on the One Almighty Power in whose saving grace we place our trust.
May we be granted, together wth our sisters and brothers everywhere, a year of much-yearned -for peace, and a year of security -- in addition to the many individual prayers for our wellbeing and those of our loved ones.
Have a wonderful, truly uplifting Holiday. May you emerge into the New Year with renewed self-confidence, aware of your tremendous potential, confident of our splendid People's ability to withstand all pressures of our foes, and forge ahead into an ever more creative future.
SHANA TOVA. KTIVA VECHATIMA TOVA.