Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
As we approach the end of the calendar year, I find myself pondering the dual identity we have as proud Jewish Americans. Many of us are here because our parents or grandparents were saved from the brutality of the Nazis or from pogroms in Russia. I know it is true of my family – my parents escaped Germany and my brother and I were fortunate enough to be born and raised here in the United States.
Like many of us, my brother and I received the gifts of Jewish education, Jewish day and overnight summer camp and participation in synagogue life, which instilled in me and hopefully in you, deep ties to our Jewish heritage.
Jeremiah 29:1-14 tells us to Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you and pray to the Lord in its behalf.
So my message to you all on this "second New Year" is that we celebrate, as Jews in America, how blessed we are to live and flourish in this great country and, at the same time, reflect on how blessed we are to be part of a 4,000-year-old continuing story. It provides us with a lens of incredible beauty by which to live a meaningful life and timeless concepts such as Tikkun Olam (improving/repairing the world) and Tzedakah (charity/justice).
So to all of you, my American-Jewish or Jewish-American brothers and sisters, I wish you, your families and all whom you love, a happy and healthy New Year, a year with the magical 18 symbolizing Chai (life). I know this will be a very special year for all of us.