Op-ed | Coming together this Rosh Hashanah

At the Hudson River in September 2020, Naomii Less blows the shofar as part of Lab/Shul's Tashlich observance. Almost 100 gathered, including guests from Riverside Language School to participate.
File photo/Tequila Minsky

Jewish traditions surrounding Rosh Hashanah are not so different from many other cultures who mark the beginning of a new year with joy and hope for the coming year.

But Rosh Hashanah is essentially a time for the Jewish people to take a serious account of what we have done to make ourselves and our world better during the year that is ending, and how we can do more good in the coming year, 

The State of Israel takes this obligation seriously, especially when it comes to our commitment to the American Jewish community and the unbreakable bond between us. Over the past year, we celebrated that bond as the U.S. government and leading American Jews played a significant role in the finalizing of the historic Abraham Accords.

These peace agreements and economic partnerships between Israel and some of its key Arab and Muslim neighbors like the U.A.E., Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan is something to be proud of. 

Acting Consul General Israel Nitzan

But they are also an ongoing responsibility that Israel and the world’s Jews must continue to work together to promote and keep the peace and partnership momentum going. Israelis and Jews from all over the world have already seen what it is now like to be welcomed warmly in places like Dubai, even to celebrate Jewish holidays and weddings.

Imagine what it will feel like to have similar experiences in many more Arab nations in the coming years. We look forward to making that dream become a reality with the help of Jews in America and the rest of the world.

On a more solemn note, our bond and responsibility to the wider Jewish community was also on display this past year when we saw the stunning rise in antisemitic attacks in New York and across the country.

As the homeland of the Jewish people, the problem of antisemitism in America or anywhere else is indeed Israel’s problem too. Working together with Jews and non-Jews to combat this form of dangerous hatred is sadly not a new responsibility for Israel, but it is always a reminder of how we are one family with an important task to work on together. 

That partnership extends to our obligation to continue standing up for and side-by-side with all of the diverse communities in America. As the acting Consul General here in a city and region where almost every one of those diverse communities is well represented, I’ve had many opportunities to do just that. The challenge in the coming year is to find more ways to strengthen those ties, build new bridges, and to show our appreciation for the struggles and triumphs of those many different communities. 

In the end, Rosh Hashanah is about family. This isn’t just about our standing up against antisemitism together. It’s also about Israel working harder to make sure Jews of all political or religious affiliations know that they will always be welcomed in Israel. 

As our new Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said this summer, family is our most important relationship. He added that, “Jews from all streams, Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox, are our family. And family is always the most important relationship, and the one that needs to be worked on more than any other.” Our job is thus very clear on this matter. 

On this Rosh Hashanah, I pray that this bond between Israel and the Jewish people remains strong. As we continue to pursue this goal together, Israel and the local Jewish communities right here are leading the world in doing good in so many ways. 

Shana tova! I pray that you all have a happy and sweet new year.

Israel Nitzan is the acting consul general of Israel in New York.

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