Shana Tova – 5783 – שנה טובה

Rosh Hashana, the two-day holiday marking the Jewish New Year, begins Sunday evening, September 25, marking the start of the year 5783.

As I have explained in previous years, celebrating Rosh Hashana is very different from the celebrations marking the arrival of January 1; it is a time of reflection and introspection, reviewing the past year, and looking ahead to the next.

I reflect on the past year feeling a mixed sense of professional satisfaction, having highlighted abuse of a government program that directed anti-racism funds to a purveyor of hate. There are many lessons to be learned by all of the parties involved: government leaders, bureaucrats and public-interest groups that are supposed to be our first lines of defense. It was particularly gratifying to see the support for my work openly displayed by a diverse coalition of colleagues from across the competitive spectrum. In the coming year, we will be certain to explore ways to improve processes and renew education and sensitivities on these important issues.

As it happens, through the weekend, I came across one of those motivational graphics that adorn various social media pages that seemed to resonate with me: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” I hope the coming year continues to provide opportunities to speak out on things that matter. I encourage you to find your voices to join me.

As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, I am approaching the coming year with renewed optimism. I have been able to travel to visit family who are overseas, and those on the other side of the continent, as well as host visitors – selectively. The past year enabled my wife and I to spend time with our grandkids, including getting to meet our granddaughter after 15 months of knowing her only by daily video chats. I wrote about the power of virtual presence, but let me reiterate, as good a substitute as video may be, it’s nothing like the physical reality of touching, holding and hugging.

As many of you read this, I will be watching a third year of live-streamed synagogue services, not yet ready on a personal level to crowd into a sanctuary for 4 hours. Still, there is a greater feeling of optimism as we continue along a path toward normalcy. I am looking forward to a year filled with more opportunities to hold and hug all of my little ones.

May the coming year be marked by good health, by personal and professional growth, and may it be a year of peace for all of us.

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו
May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.
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