Thursday, December 5, 2013
The Jewish New Year marks a period of repentance that could resonate in many ways.
Today is the first day of the year 5771 — if you are Jewish and follow the historic traditions of the faith, which marked the beginning of the new year at sunset last night.
The holiday, also called the “Day of Remembrance,” begins the holiest season of the year, for this begins the High Holidays, 10 days titled the “Days of Awe,” a time of introspection and repentance leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
In the ancient tradition of the faith, this day, like all holidays a day of rest and worship, commemorates both the creation of the world and of humanity.
In these days, God examines a person’s life to reward the good, allow the wicked to repent and all the faithful to cast off their sins and make up to others for any offenses they have committed against them.
Worship commences with the sounding of a trumpet made from a ram’s horn, or shofar, intended to awaken people from their “slumbers” and alert them to the coming judgment.
As this year’s holiday season also coincides with a conference in Washington intended to reconcile Israelis and Palestinians, a project fraught with historic disagreements and disappointments, the idea that God renews his compact with his people resonates strongly with the search for a compact that can bring peace to a region that for much of recorded history has been instead a theater of war and conquest.
If this is a time when God is accepting repentance for past wrongs, perhaps it is also a time when two proud peoples can reach out in repentance to each other.
Many would say that would require a miracle to accomplish, but those who believe that a divine presence watches over earthly affairs shouldn’t turn their backs on the possibility.