“Tradition!” Loveable milkman Tevye belts out his famous song in the Tony-winning Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof, “vocalizing the traditional family roles of shtetl Jews in Czarist Russia.
Our people’s connection to tradition dates back to long before the 1964 show and the time period it depicts. Our rich cultural heritage has been passed down since Abraham, generation after generation—even amid exile, persecution, and assimilation.
That doesn’t mean we are stuck in the past, according to Rabbi Ari Hart. “We are a people of the future,” said the rabbi and Birthright Israel alum. From counting the candles up for eight days during Chanukah, to aiming to do better in the coming year on Yom Kippur, “We believe in the future, and we believe that the collective Jewish future is shaped largely by small human choices.”
What began as a year of unknowns is ending with the celebration of the return of our participants to Israel, and that is because of you. Our future is a bright one.
May the new year ahead be one of good health, sweetness and happiness for us all.
Kate Smith is the regional director for Birthright Israel Foundation in Atlanta.