Shofar, pomegranate, apple

May the New Year Be a Good Year for Us

On the occasion of Rosh Hashanah, the RAC’s blog and social media will be dark until next week. Shanah tovah!

Avinu malkeinu, chadeish aleinu shanah tovah

Shana tovah u’metukah (a good and sweet new year) from all of us here at the Religious Action Center! As we prepare to leave 5773 behind us and welcome in 5774, we pause to reflect on the closing year, and look to the next with hope and with solemnity. In the coming days, Jews across the world will join together in synagogues, around dinner tables, in communities large and small. As we think on all we hope to achieve and learn as the new Eisendrath Legislative Assistants, we reflect on this phrase from Avinu Malkeinu found in our High Holiday machzor, Gates of Repentance: “Avinu malkeinu, chadeish aleinu shanah tovah,” May the new year be a good year for us.

Though we have each said these words for many years, this year they have a new resonance.  As the new LAs at the RAC, ready to take on all the year has in store for us, we pause in gratitude and excitement to ask that we have a good year. One filled with success, with growth, with humility, and camaraderie, all with the pursuit of social justice driving our actions and our thoughts.

Rosh Hashanah feels like the perfect time of the year to be starting a new chapter in our lives. This holiday in particular asks us to separate ourselves from our daily lives and refocus on what the next year will have in store for us. Though we celebrate the sweetness of the new year and the hope that comes with new beginnings, we must not be blind to the important challenges and perhaps even disappointments that come in our work, in our daily lives or in the pursuit of justice in Washington, D.C. The Torah reading for Rosh Hashanah reflects that very tension: our desire for new beginnings, and the reality of tests of our strength and our faith.

The selection from Parashat Vayeira that we read covers two of the most well known stories in the Bible: the birth of and the binding of Isaac. After many years of waiting, Abraham and Sarah are finally blessed with the birth of their son, Isaac. Then, G-d tests Abraham, asking him to sacrifice his first-born son in a painful trial of his faith. In the final moment before Abraham can fulfill this commandment from G-d, an angel stops him for his faith is proven. We glean from this story that joy (the birth of Isaac) does not stand alone; it is often paired with deep, difficult tests of belief. But it is through the darker times that we can also appreciate all the good things that have come to us in 5773, and that we look forward to in 5774.

Facing serious international crises and impending Congressional battles over the budget, comprehensive immigration reform, voting rights and workplace discrimination and many more, we look to Vayeira and the story of Abraham, Sarah and Isaac to remind ourselves that, with faith and perseverance, we can overcome the trials and can revel in the joyous moments. We are so excited to be starting the Jewish year with new responsibilities in so many crucial areas of policy. We look forward to our year at the RAC in the pursuit of justice and in service to our Jewish communities.

For information on how to incorporate social justice themes into your High Holiday observance, check out these RAC resources:

Shanah tovah umetukah, wishing you happy and sweet new year!

The LA Class of 2013-2014,

Charlie Arnowitz
Deborah Goldberg
Sophie Golomb
Sarah Greenberg
Howie Levine

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