Dear Friends and Partners,
The New Hebrew Year stands before us. After the Jewish month of Elul, a month in which we prepare our hearts we arrive at what is known as Judgment Day. Standing before God or facing ourselves, we are called to engage in serious soul searching. Who is to live and who is to die and what is to live and what is to die in our souls? How can we abandon our habits and our flaws and be just a little bit better in the coming year? Which of our curses will we leave behind in 5781 and which blessings will we carry forward and bring upon ourselves in the New Year?
This past year was a difficult one for so many of us. Communities and families lost friends and loved ones to the virus. Our children had to struggle with uncertainty, while we were at a loss to deal with health and climate crises. Many of us were out on the streets demonstrating while the “unity government” fell apart, bringing us yet again, for the fourth time in two years, to elections. There was a difficult war in May and violent civil clashes between Jewish and Arab Israelis. But there were encouraging signs as well. The change of Government in Israel and in the United States. Movement towards a national budget, a government that includes progressive components.
The new year will be especially challenging. The violence in Gaza and the West Bank keep reaching new heights with the help of religious forces and dangerous rabbis. Poverty expands and the socio-economic inequalities are clear. At the same time, despite the change, we find an Israeli government that is still being led by forces that want to expand the occupation and limit investments in social justice.
But we do not despair. The new year also brings with it opportunity that we need to cultivate and expand. The olive harvest is likely to be bountiful and awaits our volunteers. There are beginnings of discussions with the Palestinians. For the first time the budget will include a line for food security. We work well with a number of MKs and our education work looks to move to reach a greater variety of young people and to work in periphery communities, meeting with new audiences. We reached a new record of 130 dues paying members as we build a strong rabbinic base that works hard to be influential on human rights in Israel. Will these trends continue? It depends on us. As long as we increase the light opportunities will present themselves. As long as we struggle and think positively we will do the right thing.
Over the past two years I have had the honor to lead this unique organization. Working with women and men who are committed and talented and alongside those who come out to the Olive harvest with us. RHR is a means for making chage. The African proverb asks if you want to go far, go together, if you want to get there quickly go alone. This year we will be more focused and we will go further as we walk the path of Tikkun Olam together!
On a personal note, I wish for all of a good and sweet year!
If you would like to donate to BFRHR, you can find more information on the Donations page