The High Holy Days are a time of change, when we take stock of the year just past and resolve to transform ourselves and our communities.
And yet we have every reason to fear change, if the year just past is any guide. The Middle East was transformed, with old enemies replaced by new and volatile successors, and familiar scripts torn up by civil war and chaos. Israelis seem in no mood for risk-taking, supporting leaders who prefer a relatively calm status quo to the unforeseeable alternatives. Israel’s economy and creative energy continue to work on overdrive, although there is a palpable sense that the future is being put on hold until the Iranian crisis is resolved one way or the other.
The temptation, in the face of intractable problems and fears of what’s to come, is to hunker down and embrace the moment. Creativity, imagination, and risk-taking are deferred until we see what the future brings. In the past few years our anxieties over Israel’s security have sometimes overwhelmed our ability to think about and act on other issues of pressing communal importance.
The Days of Awe call on us to overcome our fears of change. The world may be frightening, but there is no way to fulfill our potential without risking failure. As Rabbi Harold Kushner has written, “I keep reminding myself that hope and courage are the will of God.”
Let’s hope we can all find the way to see past the uncertainty of these times, and help each other take the wise risks that will usher in a better tomorrow — for ourselves, our families, and our communities.
From all of us here at NJJN, l’shana tova u’metuka — a sweet and happy new year.