Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, starts on the evening of September 8. It initiates the ten days that culminate in Yom Kippur. Together they are called the High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew means beginning or head of the new year. According to the Jewish calendar, this year will be 5771. According to the calendar we all use every day, the New Year starts of the evening of December 31, and on next January 1, the year will be 2011. While there is some talk of making personal resolutions at that time, the focus is really on the party, the hats, and the ball dropping in Times Square. In contrast, the High Holidays are a time for introspection. We ask what we can do, as individuals and as a group, to improve ourselves and the world.
The Jewish Federation’s purpose is to help people; all people. Some are your next door neighbors, who need counseling. Some receive food or clothing. Some require special schooling. All these and much more are provided for though programs funded by the Federation. Some are offered regardless of income. Some are only for those facing economic difficulties.
The Federation’s programs reflect the values of social justice and human rights that define the Jewish people as well as the values of caring that transform lives and perform miracles. The world is not perfect. We have the opportunity to participate in making it better. Thus, Federation protects and enhances the wellbeing of Jews worldwide. The Federation is concerned about keeping Israel safe and strong. The Federation cares for vulnerable populations, whether they are in Thailand or Tiblisi, the Sudan or the Gulf. Needs are met because people gather to address them. That’s what Federation does.
The Jewish Federation of Monmouth County represents all the Jews in the county, whether they belong to a synagogue or not, whether they live near the shore or near Route 9, whether they are new to the area or were born here, whether they are toddlers or great grandparents, whether they are married or not.
Thus it is particularly appropriate now, as we approach the Jewish New Year, to think about what we have, how we can help others, and how fortunate we are to be living in this extraordinary country, in which freedom is a right, not a hope; in which caring and sharing are the norm. It’s a time for a special salute to all those serving in our armed forces. They are the best of us, and deserve the best from us.
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On behalf of the Federation, I wish everyone a year of peace and health, of miracles large and small, in our homes and in our world.
Stuart Abraham is President of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County