Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Rosh Hashanah Introspections

I spent Rosh Hashanah in Zichron Ya’akov. Zichron Ya'akov was one of the first communities established by the modern day Zionists, through the generous assistance of Baron Rothschild. Zichron Ya'akov, today, is a mix of the religious and secular, and is generally viewed as a nice, quiet, cultural place.

The shul that I davened in, Ohel Ya'akov (named after the same Ya'akov as Zichron Ya'akov - Rothschild...) is right off of the mid-rechov (I am not sure how this translates exactly into English, but basically its the street where there are lots of shops, cafes and restaurants, with no traffic).

Returning from shul on the 1st day of Rosh Hashanah, the mid-rechov was packed - with nearly every store open, and the restaurants and cafes doing very heavy business.

At first, the site bothered me. (One of the nice things that go along with living in a religious neighborhood is that you forget that there are actually people who don't adhere to the laws of Shabbat and Yom Tov the same way that I do).

Didn't these people know that it was Rosh Hashanah?

Didn't they care?

The more I thought about it, I came to two conclusions:

1) I can't really blame these Jewish brothers and sisters of mine. If they had received the same intensive Jewish education and upbringing that I had received, then I have no doubt that they too would have been in shul and celebrating the holiday as Jews traditionally have.

Sadly, and this is a point which I have echoed numerous times, the state of Jewish education in Israel is abysmal. There are far too many Jews who pass through Israel's public school system ignorant of almost all the fundamentals of basic Judaism. If that is the case, how can I blame these Jews?

The bigger issue is, what are people like myself, and other members of the Religious Zionist public, who care deeply about Jewish identity in the Jewish State and of the importance of Jewish education, doing to change the reality?

It's easy to point fingers at others; it's not as easy to point a finger at yourself.

2) Initially I was bothered that while the entire world was passing before G-d in judgment, both collectively and individually, these Jews seemed to be oblivious of such lofty affairs, and were more concerned with which restaurant to have lunch at.

My feelings soon changed when I once again began to look inward. I realized that I too am passing before G-d in judgment, and while my Jewish brothers and sisters who were enjoying themselves on the mid-rechov could at least go before G-d and say with absolute sincerity that had they been given a true Jewish education and upbringing that things might have been different, I do not have any such excuses which will get me off the hook.

What am I to say as I pass before G-d in judgment and have to 'fess up for all of my sins? I know better. I have been blessed with a strong Jewish education and upbringing, and with that comes a greater responsibility - and it's days like these where I realize it's not so easy to live up to them - and that if I truly want to make a difference and create a better future for the Jewish People - working on myself is as good a place as any to start.


That's all fine. What, however, do you think about Obadiah Shoher's criticism pf Rosh Hashanah as aholiday that has nothing to do with New Year? Here, for example

By Blogger Nikol, at Tue Sep 18, 12:39:00 PM GMT+2  

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