Rabbi Mark Zimmerman’s 2021 Rosh Hashanah Message
Rosh HashanahCommunity

Rabbi Mark Zimmerman’s 2021 Rosh Hashanah Message

Read community insights, perspectives and opportunities seen as we enter into the 5782/ 2021 New Year.

Rabbi Mark Zimmerman
Rabbi Mark Zimmerman

Opportunities for the Upcoming New Year 5782

A major theme of Rosh Hashanah revolves around asking God to inscribe us into Sefer HaChayim, the Book of Life. Whether or not you take that idea literally, the notion of a Sefer HaChayim is a profound one that helps us to focus our prayers and direct our spiritual energy during the holidays.

The global pandemic has also made us better appreciate how tenuous and precious life is, and how our health is something we can never take for granted. We all have our own Covid-19 stories to tell. And those stories, sadly, have not yet come to an end.

In Jewish thought, there is a principle called Pikuach Nefesh which teaches us how saving a life outweighs every other mitzvah. That is why we don’t hesitate to violate Shabbat when it comes to saving a life. That is also why our synagogues are so carefully weighing how best to observe the holidays in the midst of the seemingly never-ending pandemic.

Those of us who chose to get vaccinated modeled a further example of this mitzvah, since beyond protecting ourselves, we helped limit the mutation and spread of the virus to others in the community at large.

Another important value we must strive for in the year ahead is “achdut,” meaning unity. We often bandy around the term, but rarely do we stop to think about its true meaning, how we can achieve it, or why it is so vitally important. Given the many challenges we face as a community from the pandemic to antisemitism, and demonization of Israel to the disaffection of our youth, we need to come together as one, perhaps more than ever before in our lifetimes.

God-willing, in 5782 we will get to experience a true sense of achdut as we join together for the holidays. We come to shul from different levels of Jewish observance, and even different theological and ideological perspectives. But we are pulled together out of a deep desire to reconnect with our community, and to rekindle that sense of kedusha, of holiness in our lives.

For me, that is one of the special joys that comes with the observance of the holidays. Whether you are able to join us in person or remotely, I hope that we can all derive strength and inspiration from sensing each other’s presence. As Rosh Hashanah approaches, I pray for a year where all Jews will come together and rise above the differences that sometimes threaten to pull us apart. If the Jewish people are united, there is no force in the world that can bring about our downfall.

May 5782 usher in a year of achdut (unity), kehillah (community) b’riut (health) and kedushah (holiness) for all of us and for all of humanity.

Mark Zimmerman is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom in Dunwoody.

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