On the eve of September 20th, 2017 ( 29 of Elul) Jewish people around the world will gather in synagogues and community centers to celebrate the New Year. Rosh Hashanah (literally “Head of the Year”) is a special time of rejoicing and looking forward, for Jewish people around the world. We celebrate by blowing the shofar and eating special foods such as round challahs (bread loaves,) apples, and honey for a sweet year. Jewish people will go around wishing one another L’ Shanah Tovah Tiketevu meaning “May your name be inscribed for a good year!” This day marks the beginning of a series of Jewish Holy Days including Yom Kippur and Sukkot. But for the Jewish people worldwide, beyond the tangible AND symbolic sweetness of this season’s foods, there is quite a bit of uncertainty about the past, the present, and the future.
Jewish history is one of the longest uninterrupted narrative in the history of mankind–about 3800 years since the birth of Abraham, even though the Jewish calendar starts with Adam and eve 5778 years ago. Jewish history is both rich with a diverse heritage and heavy with acts of anti-Semitism that punctuated its long stream. The uncertainty about the past comes in a few different ways, but they all lead to a possible eradication of Jewish presence in mankind’s history.
With the exponential decline of the last few thousand survivors from the death camps, Holocaust memory is at risk. First account stories will soon be impossible to collect. This fact of time, coupled with a strong desire by many to re-write Holocaust history and revise it, put the greatest Jewish catastrophe at risk of becoming obsolete in postmodern minds. Additionally, various organizations such as the United Nations, UNESCO, and others, are trying to disconnect Israel from any Jewish roots. We saw it recently with the ludicrous, yet very bold attempt at making the Temple Mount area a Muslim site with no Jewish connection. The past should always be something to learn from and build upon, but Jewish people around the world feel uneasy as they see their past history at risk.
The present situation also offers many challenges for our global Jewish community. Modern anti-Semitism has replaced the once believed defunct historical anti-Semitism of yesterday. The hydra of Lerna of classic anti-Semitism saw its head being cut off after World War Two, only to grow two more within two decades after that. There is no safe place in the world for Jewish people except maybe for the one place that most of the world wants to eradicate, that is Israel. A Jew in Iceland, South Africa or Australia is in danger today–as if by proxy–simply for something that takes place in Israel. In some big metropolis like London or Paris, it isn’t safe to be outside wearing a yarmulke or a Star of David. Jews around the world have to watch their back just about anywhere they go. With BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) pushing a pro-Palestinian agenda, even those who wish to support Israel are at risk now. Killing Jews is even back on the agenda in France as we can see from the recent events involving the mostly unreported death of Sarah Halimi. The present is something that many Jewish people want to live for but uncertainty is real, as danger looms around the corner every single day.
So with a past and a present as described, what is left to look forward to? Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech at the 72nd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on September, 19th, 2017. He started by painting the picture of a world, embracing Israel more than ever before. But he quickly turned our attention to the danger of Syria, Iran, and global anti-Semitism. Yet much of the future of the world in the fields of technology, agriculture, innovation, and security, takes place today in Israel; at the hands of a myriad of entrepreneurs. Where would these people be today if G-d had allowed for the Holocaust to continue for a bit longer? Yet, G-d isn’t bound by time. He is the G-d of the past, present, and future, and He never changes (Numbers 23:19.)
There is indeed a future for Israel and for the Jewish people. It is clearly delineated in the Tanach and the B’rit Hadashah. Israel will never cease to exist and the Jewish people will NEVER be completely decimated (Jeremiah 31:35-27.) As we enter 5778, I want to believe more than ever that my Jewish people will look forward to their glorious future, when Mashiach will rule on the throne of King David in Yerushalaim. Only the Messiah can bring real peace into the world. I am convinced that He came in the past (Isaiah 52:13-53:12.) to sustain us through the present as He promised us a bright future. There is no uncertainty in my heart and mind for my destiny is secure in Messiah. I look forward to a sweet 5778 as I wish you all the same. May YOUR NAME be inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life forever!
L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu B’shem Yeshua Mashienu!