On the occasion of Rosh Hashana, following is a letter and blessings from David Zeit, UWI’s executive director, on the eve of the Jewish New Year 5775.
When we remember this past year, the events of the past few months remain at the forefront of our collective memories. Beginning with the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers and throughout Operation Protective Edge, something astounding took place. The Jewish People here in Israel and around the world not only united, but remembered. We remembered our Jewish identity. In the face of our enemies on the battlefields, both in Gaza and in the international “court of public opinion,” we remembered what it means to be a Jew and we stood firm. We stood tall. We stood proud.
Now, as we approach the New Year, it is interesting to note that in different sections of the High Holiday prayers, we ask the Almighty to “remember.”
“Our Father our King, remember us for we are dust”; “our Father, our King, remember us fondly before you” – just to give two examples. It is also interesting to note that we, as Jews, are commanded by God to “remember” as well. We are commanded to remember the Exodus from Egypt. We are commanded to remember what the Amalekites [sworn enemies of the Jewish People] did to us on our way when we left Egypt.
What is the significance of this concept called “memory,” and why is it integral for the Jewish People and the State of Israel to always remember?
It is because our unity and recalling of our identity have been the key ingredients to our formula for survival as a nation throughout the generations.
The former Chief Rabbi of England, Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, recently wrote: “There is a fundamental difference between history and memory. History is ‘his story’, an account of events that happened sometime else to someone else. Memory is ‘my story.’ It is the past internalized and made part of my identity.”
The difference between the Jewish People and any other nation throughout history is the difference between memory and history. For the Jewish People, the past is part and parcel of our present and our future. We recall it in order to remind ourselves and future generations of who we are, where we come from and what we are supposed to do. This is what it means to have an identity. This is what it means to be Jewish.
We at United with Israel believe that we have played a key role in this mission. With the help of all of our generous members, we were able to help our soldiers and the citizens of southern Israel who were in need. We connected and unified people from all over the world to our cause and helped to reestablish our identity. This is quite an accomplishment.
My prayer and hope for the coming year is that this astounding accomplishment remains indelibly etched in our hearts and minds. Let it not be an aberration. May we always remember that when we are united, when we exhibit pride in our Jewish identity, we will always overcome and flourish.
May we all have a blessed New Year!
David E. Zeit,