Judaism has come a long way in its 3000 plus years. We have developed both as a people and as a religion. We have gone from being nomads, to rulers of our our own land, to being exiles and back again. Our nation and laws have developed both in isolation of and as a result of foreign cultures, rulers and influence.
We have remained strong and kept our beloved Torah while other nations have lived and died. At the same time, we adjust for the times and changing developments and norms. Overall, we have done a very good job, bringing objective morality to a complex world.
Now, as our nation returns to its land, bringing peoples from all over the globe, we are faced with challenges, some of the human kind, and some specific to Judaism and tradition.
As I see it, we need to make some real changes if we are to survive and thrive for another 3000 years.
Below are my suggestions for Judaism’s New Year’s Resolutions 5775.
In 5775, there will be real and lasting change for agunot. The leadership and those in power will hear the anger and injustice and the damage that is done to me by this perversion of the law. They will work to change the system as well as education on this subject, thus making chaining a person to a marriage both morally repugnant and halachically impossible. I resolve that men and women who are currently chained will be freed and that no man or woman will ever again be held into a marriage they do not want.
In 5775, a person’s country of origin, skin color, and traditions will matter less than their commitment to their community and shared values. In 5775, all Israelis will come together regardless of background, religious level or socioeconomic level, and that they be one, like we are in the days of war.
In 5775, the many thousands of people who live here and want to be Jewish will be able to truly join our nation without being put off, harassed or turned off. Their commitment to the nation and country and their service and life here will expose them to the beauty of our religion and people and that our leaders will be accepting and loving and not harsh and forbidding.
In 5775, the disturbing phenomenon of erasing women and girls from billboards and books will cease. Society will realize the damage this causes, and prevent it from being done any longer. Women and girls will be seen as people, as those with minds and souls, and not as vessels for potential sin.
In 5775, girls and women will have the same opportunities as boys and men. Women will have the right and opportunity to serve and improve their religion and society. The educational and professional institutions and positions will be open and accepting to girls and women. I resolve that women’s influence on Judaism will bring balance and justice to those areas where man has not allowed for enough growth and flexibility.
In 5775, the horrors of sexual abuse will be taken seriously by every community. Victims will not be shut down, shut up and stone walled. Perpetrators — regardless of their standing within the community — will be held accountable, removed from their positions, and incarcerated while being treated. The taboo of speaking about sexuality — all sexuality — will ease so that parents can teach their children to protect themselves, and when the time is right, to enjoy themselves and not shun that part of life.
We do so many things right:
Our charities are as numerous as the stars, our mercy is unparalleled, our efforts at Tikkun Olam extend to the farthest reaches of the Earth.
In 5775, it may just be time to turn inward and see where our thoughts, preconceptions and beliefs can be challenged so that our arms open even wider, our acceptance reaches new heights and our compassion truly reflects the knowledge that we are all God’s children and deserving of love above all else.