Message for Rosh Hashana 5774
3rd September 2013
As we approach the Yamim Noraim, our time of reflection and renewal, we begin to assess the events of the past year and to express our hopes for the year ahead.
We live in a world of contradictions. Science and technology hold out the tantalising prospect of curing illnesses, ending hunger and poverty, and diminishing many of the other traditional causes of conflict. Yet strife and bloodshed are everywhere. Not since the first half of the twentieth century have the world’s horizons been darkened so ominously by the proliferation of hatred and war.
Dictators and despots once again issue blood-curdling calls for the destruction of Jewish life, as though Israel and the Jewish people are somehow to blame for the internal carnage in Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the region.
In Hungary and Greece, and other parts of Europe, a reversion to acts of violence against Jews and public expressions of anti-Semitism are becoming more frequent and are even tolerated. In Poland, the surviving Jewish community is facing attacks on its religious freedoms in the form of a ban on kosher slaughter.
Even in peaceful Australia, anti-Semitic incidents are reported daily and the threat to our communal institutions remains credible and persistent. Against this backdrop, the old bipartisan consensus in support of Israel has started to break down.
While these challenges must not be minimised, we express our hope for a better year to come. We are a hopeful people. And so, we express our deep and solemn prayer that the coming year brings a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, even while the Palestinians and Israel’s Arab neighbours are unable to make peace within and among themselves.
We hope that a resurgent anti-Semitism in Europe is confronted and vanquished. We hope that blow by blow, the shameful movement to demonise and boycott Israel is discredited and defeated. We hope that this will be a year without a new Lebanon war, without a new Burgas bus bombing, without a new Toulouse Jewish school massacre.
But to hope is not enough. We are a people defined by our willingness to act, by our ability to join together and overcome. In this year, we as a community have acted and achieved a great deal.
We joined with our colleagues from around the world at the World Jewish Congress plenary in Budapest to show our resolve to stand up to antisemitism in the places where it is most pervasive.
We have worked tirelessly with our international friends to ensure that Jewish communities around the world are able to live as Jews and practise the ancient rites of circumcision and kashrut.
We ensured that while some countries seek to revise or even glorify their Nazi pasts, in Australia, we continue to revere those who stood against Nazism. Raoul Wallenberg is now an honorary Australian citizen and the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism has been signed by a higher proportion of Members of Parliament in Australia than anywhere else in the world.
We have ensured that now every Australian child will learn about the Holocaust and its lessons for humanity and understand the true nature of anti-Semitism as part of the national curriculum.
We have stood up to the institutional anti-Israel bias in numerous mainstream media sources in this country and caused them to modify their behaviour
And we have ensured that communal security is an election issue and both parties have pledged to increase funding to secure our schools.
As we reflect on these and other achievements and the great challenges that face us ahead, we thank you, members of our superb community, for your passion, dedication and support and urge you to stand with us again in the coming year and help us to represent the interests of the Jewish people in this country and throughout the world.
On behalf of all of us at the ECAJ, we extend best wishes to each and every person in our community for a Shana Tova Umetuka K’tiva v’Chatima Tova, a year of health, happiness, prosperity and peace.
Peter Wertheim AM | Executive Director
phone: 02 8353 8500 | m: 0408 160 904 | fax 02 9361 5888