At the passing of the year…

 
Tonight marks the start of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. In Jewish homes around the globe, families will sit down to the traditional festival meal. The menu will vary from community to community, and will probably include fish in one form or another, but whether Ashkenazi or Sephardi, North African or Yemenite, Iraqi, Kurdish or Persian – the feast will start off with apples dipped in honey, to symbolise the hope that the coming year will be a sweet one.
 
This past year hasn’t been so sweet for us here. The kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit notched up another year in captivity, Two others, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, were returned to Israel in their coffins in exchange for hundreds of (all-too-alive) terrorists. Eight teenagers were butchered by a Palestinian from East Jerusalem as they studied Talmud in their Yeshiva, ordinary citizens were crushed by terrorist-driven bulldozers as they sat in their cars or walked along sidewalks. Nor was all the pain and suffering inflicted by terrorists. Inter-gang warfare cost the lives of innocent citizens caught in the crossfire, including a young mother gunned down on the beach in full view of her husband and children, other children were abused by their parents, a little girl, just four and a half years old, was murdered by her grandfather – probably with the connivance of her own mother. Hundreds were killed and maimed in traffic accidents. The world-wide economic crisis is threatening the life-savings and pension plans of hundreds of thousands of workers (though one might think this but a small worry, when the Iranians are pursuing a course that seems designed to lead to nuclear war).
 
Where will it all end? What lies in store for us in the coming year?
 
In the Jewish tradition, on Rosh Hashana, God decides the fate of all, Man and Beast  –   who will live and who will die, who at the measure of Man’s days and who before his or her time, who by fire and who by water, who shall suffer sickness and who shall enjoy good health, who shall wax rich and who shall be condemned to poverty, who shall have peace and who shall be doomed to wander. On Rosh Hashana, it is written down and on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the Book is sealed, for good or for ill. But between the two festivals, are the Ten Days of Penitence. Penitence, Prayer and Charity, it is said, avert the evil decree. Thus, the Ten Days of Penitence, starting on Rosh Hashana and ending on Yom Kippur, are a time for soul-searching.
 
         
 
This year, Rosh Hashana coincides with the Muslim festival of Eid el-Fitr, the three-day feast marking the end of Ramadan.
A timely reminder, perhaps, that both Jews and Arabs are children of Abraham. That we all pray to the same God.
 
This then, is my prayer for the year 5769 – that the spirit of peace may descend, the greatest gift of all. For Jews, Muslims, Christians. And for Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Taoists, Shintoists… Even for the agnostics and the atheists.
Before it’s too late. Before we destroy ourselves.
 
Beshem Adonai, El Rahum vehanun.  Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim. In the Name of the Almighty.
 
                 
 Translation
Our Father, Our King, Hear our prayer
Our Father, Our King, We have sinned before Thee
Our Father, Our King, Have compassion upon us and upon our children
Our Father, Our King,
Bring an end to pestilence, war, and famine
Our Father, Our King, Cause all hate and oppression to vanish from the earth
Our Father, Our King, Inscribe us for blessing in the Book Of Life
Our Father, Our King, Let the new year be a good year for us.
Our Father, Our King, Hear our prayer

 
        לשנה טובה תיכתבו ותיחתמו                                                     
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About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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4 Responses to At the passing of the year…

  1. Kenneth says:

    Hello Shimona.
                           The Squirrels were a delight to watch scampering around the trees.  so funny i thought.
    RE: your post…I am a none believer, however, I do believe that war is only a piece of time in between two pieces of peace.
    Peace shall come.
    Kenny.

  2. Patricia says:

    Shimona, I love the Barbra Streisand song…I have it on a cd "Higher Ground"…so powerful…I played it again while reading the words…
    I\’m learning many things about your customs and religion…and I\’m happy that what I posted today about the apples touched in a very small way your New Year celebration…it\’s a wonderful custom, dipping the apple into honey…
    no, this past year hasn\’t been such a good one…the fear is that it will only get worse…
    in this small state, where I live, we will be celebrating our Mountain State Forest Festival this week…not a religious celebration, but a celebration of autumn, and the forests, as the trees wear their beautiful colors…forest products are a big business here…
    Enjoy your festival with family and friends…and can I say, "Shalom"…
     

  3. michael says:

    I dont know what to say to you I new you had your probs over there but I didnt understand it to be so bad I can only say you have to look to the future and I hope it will be better for all god bless.
    Mike

  4. bamacatlover says:

    God bless Israel. Israel will be preserved, because the Jews are God\’s chosen people. I appreciate any news you have to share and I\’m sorry for so many things that are happening there and elsewhere.         Sidney

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