How wonderful to be back in person with hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Students and faculty are back in schools, praying for well-being in their classrooms — both mentally and physically — and hoping to catch up scholastically from the challenges of the COVID years.
Hopefully, the piercing sounds of the Shofar will stir us to new insights and activism as we struggle with the complexities of our personal and communal lives. Jewish texts can guide us to face our challenges in this polarized political climate and divisive election season.
We are called to Tikkun Olam, Repair the World. In Judaism, we’re taught that our well-being is connected to the well-being of our communities. There is no better way to achieve that well-being than through our right to vote. We must exercise that right and not be silent, for our vote is our voice. Let’s make sure we’re registered to vote; that we, our kids, and grandkids who are away at school get absentee ballots; and let’s make sure our senior citizens get their absentee ballots and rides to the polls.
One of the most divisive issues before us is abortion access. Here our Jewish texts guide us with wisdom and clarity. In Jewish law, life does not begin at conception, and a fetus is not considered a person. The first breath of oxygen allows the soul to enter the body, and so begins life. Our Jewish values compel us to support safe and legal access to abortion care as basic health care.
In 2023, we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel. Throughout its struggles to be “a true light unto the nations,” Israel has faced continuous security threats, relentless condemnation from international organizations, antisemitism, and bias in communities and on colleges campuses. All the while, it achieves historic accomplishments in science and technology and welcomes thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish refugees seeking safe harbor from wars and brutality.
May we all be blessed in the year ahead to celebrate Israel and to make our world a kinder, more just one.
Sherry Frank is co-president of NCJW Atlanta Section and author of A Passion to Serve: Memoirs of a Jewish Activist.