On Rosh Hashana we think about building the future

This weekly update is the last one of Jewish calendar year 5782, for on Sunday night we celebrate Rosh Hashana. We usher in the year 5783.

Towards the end of his life, the late, great Rabbi Jonathan Sacks described the essence of Rosh Hashana as thinking of, securing and building the future. We cannot mend the personal ruptures of the past, which is the essence of Yom Kippur, he said, until we focus our eyes and steer our hearts toward the future. Thus, with his nugget-like, shining wisdom, Rabbi Sacks answered a question that has puzzled so many of us who think about liturgy and lore.

During the two days of Rosh Hashana, none of the Torah and Haftarah readings relate, as one might think they would, to the mysteries and wonders of Creation- which, after all, is the theme that recurs throughout the holiday’s prayers. Rather, the Mosaic and prophetic readings on both days relate specifically to children.

The Torah readings recount the births of Isaac and then, on the second day of the holiday, of Isaac’s binding and near sacrifice. The Haftarah on the first day tells of the birth of the prophet Samuel, and then on the next day concludes with a generalized plea about our children to the Jewish people by the prophet Jeremiah to “weep no more” and a promise in God’s name that  “our hard work will be rewarded. Our children will return from harm’s way. There is hope for our future. Our children will return safely to where they belong”.

It is both a small leap in logic and in literary interpretation to understand the connection between Rabbi Sack’s insight concerning the future and the very deliberate holy readings. Where our children belong is within the Jewish fold of peoplehood. As Rabbi Sacks also pointed out forcefully and eloquently so many times, the Jewish future, Jewish peoplehood, depend upon Jewish education. We secure and build that future by bringing as many youngsters as possible into the affordable possibility and sustaining domain of Jewish education. That purpose, to help build the Jewish future, is the promise of GAJE to the community.

May we be able to say at this time next year that truly affordable Jewish education in Ontario has become a closer reality for the families that seek it for their children.

Shabbat shalom and l’shana tovah techatevu v’techatemu.

Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)

September 23, 2022

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