Wishing you a New Year of Good Health, Prosperity, and Fulfillment
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From the Desk of Stephen H. Hoffman
This evening, 5774 will ease in as the sun sets and we will begin the ten Days of Awe of introspection, repentance and reflection. We will say prayers acknowledging our short comings as human beings and prayers that remind us that the Almighty is just waiting for us to seize the moment to put ourselves back on the right path.
Naturally, many of us recall our individual deeds of the past year. We’re even encouraged to use the ten days to seek personal forgiveness from anyone we may have wronged . But this time of year is not only about individual judgment. We’re told that even nations are judged.
So, if nations are judged, what about communities? What about the Cleveland Jewish community?
I think we – you, our supporters – have much to offer on the positive side of the judgment ledger. We have helped to educate thousands of our children, feed thousands of hungry people in our Jewish and general communities, provide shelter for more than a thousand of our most vulnerable community members and help hundreds of families cope with a variety of mental health and physical challenges.
There is more to do. We can be better in 5774 and we can pledge to do just that in the next ten days.
Overseas, there was a special event to be added to positive sides of the ledger in the closing week of the year. Last Wednesday, two flights of 450 Jews from Ethiopia landed at Ben Gurion Airport, completing the Exodus of nearly 100,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. When the authenticity of these Jews was questioned by some in the Israeli government more than a decade ago, it was the leadership of American Jewry that fought alongside Natan Sharansky and others to bring them home after thousands of years of exile. Cleveland was in the middle of the battle, providing financial support while they waited in Ethiopia, educational resources for the children stuck in limbo, precious advocacy and finally extra funds for absorption.
We did not turn our back on fellow Jews and we didn’t allow others to do so. We live the principle that all Israel is responsible one for another and we live it here in Cleveland and around the world!
I mentioned that nations, too, will be judged. Are we not watching that very notion unfold before our eyes this week? The United States of America is searching its soul to decide what it should do about Syria using poison gas on its citizens. What should we do? What can we do? It’s an excruciatingly complex decision that our government now debates. Our people know all too well what happens when the world merely stands by. This Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Kol Israel Memorial in Zion Memorial Park on Northfield Road, we’ll gather to recall the victims of the Nazi evil.
It gives new meaning to the ten Days of Awe.
Our deeds in life matter, not only to our own well being, but for the future of others as well. Together, we make life so much better for those who need us in our community at home and our people abroad. Together as Americans we can do the same in the larger world around us.
May you and your family be inscribed for a new year of good health, prosperity and fulfillment.
Stephen H. Hoffman