Barbara Green has been a volunteer for Americans for Peace Now for many years. She lives in Washington, DC.
This is an awkward time of the year for some secular Jews like me. We know it’s a time of renewal and perhaps even symbolic rebirth, but what does that mean if you don’t really think the supreme ruler is sitting in judgment and deciding your fate for the coming year? Well, it could mean a lot of things. For me it’s a time to take stock: to look back on the past year and own up to things done which shouldn’t have been, or not done which should have been, and everything in between. What could I do to put those things to right? And what do I hope to change in the coming year? A small aspiration of mine is the intention in the coming year to dial back my propensity for righteous indignation. Hardly a day passes when I’m not upset – if not downright angry – about events in the world but I’m learning that indignation no matter how righteous sometimes may be counter-productive.
Maimonides teaches the blowing of the shofar is intended to waken us from our mindless slumber, our symbolic sleep which allows us to turn away from blatant injustice. He admonishes us to “….look to our souls and better our ways and actions.” For me this means doubling down on my efforts to pursue an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the establishment of a Palestinian state. We Jews weren’t meant to be occupiers. Forty-nine years of holding another people under occupation is more than enough. Israeli security professionals have weighed in on this issue and concluded that the occupation does not provide security. It is a national security liability. The occupation is hurting not only Palestinians but Israelis as well – not equally but significantly.
Let us renew our faith in Israel’s future as a democratic state next to a future Palestine. Let us begin anew to work for this goal every day of the coming year. Let us mobilize effectively and vocalize loudly. It’s time to end our slumber and instead become active participants in the cause of peace, soon and in our time. This is a new year, a new chance for a new beginning.