Erev Yom Kippur Applause to the Jewish Orchestra
Jewish communal activist, Rabbi Avi Weiss, often compares the Jewish community to a symphony orchestra, in which there are drummers, flautists, violinists, and so on. Similarly, many in the community play different roles so that it will function at its best. Each has his unique place in the orchestra.
As the Jewish Year 5772 (2011-2012) begins, and as Jews enter synagogues worldwide to pray on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, I would like to bring attention to some special “instruments in the orchestra” that deserve public appreciation.
· All the Jews in Eretz Yisrael: Israel is the epicenter of Jewish life, the miracle in the desert. The inhabitants and the land deserve praise and recognition. Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has stood up to remarkable pressure, deserves our prayers and thanks – as do the holy soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) who protect the Jewish homeland. As we pray facing Jerusalem, let us remember the grandeur of the land and its people.
· Chabad-Lubavitch worldwide movement: The largest Jewish organization in the world that brings multitudes of Jews closer to Judaism across the globe. The thousands of Chabad shluchim (emissaries) who love and encourage Jews of all stripes of life to do as many good deeds as they can to make the world a better place. It’s a beautiful mission statement, one which can only witness continued success.
· Jewish parents and educators worldwide: My mother used to tell anyone who would listen about the Six Million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis, amongst them one million children. So today, children must always take an important place in the Jewish home and community. Those who raise and educate the new generations of Jewish children deserve specific recognition and appreciation.
· Donors that give generously to Jewish causes, and, thereby, encourage Jewish life: The list includes the Jim Joseph Foundation, which donated $33 Million to rabbinical seminaries this year; Moshe Lax who quietly built the Soho synagogue in NYC to encourage Jews, who rarely attend synagogue, to step foot inside; Dr. Irving Moskowitz who ensures that Jerusalem will never be divided; or Nightlife mogul, Mark Birnbaum, whom YJP honored for his dedication to the Jewish community.
· Our non-Jewish friends: In the Christian Evangelical community, two stand out; Jay Sekulow, who presents Israel’s arguments before the International Criminal Court at the Hague and Pastor John Hagee, who raises funds and political support for Israel.
I believe in the words of Rabbi Kook that there is no such being as a non-religious Jew – only those who are presently religious, and those who will become religious. Religion is about becoming a better person – in all facets of life.
Let us all strive to become better people this year as we atone and repent on Yom Kippur.