Hope for the new year

As we leave this odd, unsettling, not-good-for-the-Jews year behind us, as we face the challenges and discomforts and heights of the new year, with its looming could-go-either-way opportunities staring at us chillingly and thrillingly in the face and in the heart, we fervently hope that next year will be better.

This has been a year where we have had to take the idea of security far more seriously than just about any of us who grew up in this country ever have had to before. This has been a year where children in shuls talk casually to each other about which door a shooter might burst through. (That’s a conversation I overheard, between 7-year-olds, and it still is replaying in my head.)

It’s a year when synagogues have had to institute security protocols, and to teach congregants what to do.

This sign on a local synagogue shows what faces us this year.

No matter what your politics are, it seems safe — and please let it be safe, but if it is not safe then we are too entirely fractured for anyone’s good — to hope for a year with more civility, fewer insults, more logic, more faith not only in religion but also in science and cold logic. A year where the fact of division is accepted but the idea that division must be ugly is not. A year with no more shootings, no more dead children or dead Jews or dead shoppers or dead walkers. A year with open, free elections that reflect the voters’ will. A year free from sexual harassment and abuse, from anti-Semitism and racism and misogyny.

As we work toward that laudable, please-make-it-not-be-out-of-reach goal — of decency and of goodness — we apologize to our readers for anything we might have said that might have headed in the opposite direction. Passions run high every year, but this year, this season, they are overheated, ready to burst and explode. Like everyone else, we too have our deeply held beliefs and politics; if we have expressed them with anything other than civility and respect — and if we have harmed or hurt any of our readers in any other way — we are deeply sorry. Please forgive us.

We hope that as Neilah winds up to its rousing, emotionally laden climax, as the work of the holiday season comes together in that half despairing, half exultant cry as the shofar blows on Wednesday night, we all are awakened to the promises and hopes and hard work of the coming year.

Gmar chatima tovah. 

About the Author
Joanne is the editor of the Jewish Standard and lives in Manhattan with her husband and two dogs, so she has firsthand knowledge of two thriving and idiosyncratic Jewish communities. (Actually that's three communities, if you also count the dog people.)
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