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Jewish New Year is time to reflect
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This evening I’ll be dipping pieces of apple into honey and wishing my husband and children L’shanah tovah – wishes for a sweet and good year. Later, we’ll attend worship services in Savannah and listen to the sound of the shofar (ram’s horn) being blown.
I’ll also make a concerted effort to reflect on my thoughts and actions of the past year. Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year – is a time to reflect and resolve to improve oneself.
Rosh Hashanah begins tonight at sundown and ends at sundown on Friday. The Jewish calendar is a lunar one, and that is why Jewish holidays fall on different days throughout the year on the Western – or Gregorian – calendar. The new Jewish year is 5771.
Rosh Hashanah is both a joyous and serious holiday. It is serious because the 10 Days of Awe — a period of introspection — begins with Rosh Hashanah and ends with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur begins at sundown Friday, Sept. 17, and ends at sundown Saturday, Sept. 18. Jews fast on Yom Kippur.
There is much to reflect on this holiday; my relationships, my behavior — both good and bad — and even my thoughts and feelings. This year I intend to rise above petty jealousies, negative comments and bigotry.
Specifically, I do not want to hate Muslims. There’s too much of that in America these days, spurred by years of war and fear instilled in otherwise good people by the actions of murderous fanatics.
There are those who oppose the building of a Muslim community center that would include a small mosque in New York City. Apparently, American Muslims are now facing similar opposition to building mosques elsewhere in the country.
There is also the Dove World Outreach Center’s plan to burn Korans to mark the anniversary of 9/11. It’s wrong to destroy anyone’s sacred text. Throughout Jewish history our houses of worship and holy Torah scrolls were burned and desecrated by people enraged with blind hate. What of the Nazis burning books in the 1930s? Remember the words of German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine who said, “Those who begin by burning books will end by burning people.” Have we learned nothing from the past that we are so easily led to act in a barbaric manner? Do we want to mirror the very terrorists our young men and women face in Iraq and Afghanistan? I might also add most of our troops’ Iraqi and Afghani partners are Muslim. Not to mention we do have Muslim soldiers fighting for the U.S. as well.
I hope to separate my anger toward those people, who happen to be Muslim, who want to kill and injure us and our allies from the religion of Islam and those Muslims who follow their faith in peace. If I do not want someone to hate me for my faith, how can I in good conscience hate someone for theirs?
Here is wishing all a happy, prosperous and peaceful New Year void of prejudice.
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