September 22, 2006
sundown on Friday evening, September 22, Israel will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the
first day of the Jewish New Year.
Rosh Hashanah is a festive two day celebration punctuated by long blasts of the “Shofar”, Israeli for ram’s horn, and enjoyed by Jewish families all over the world.
It is also the beginning of the 10 days of Awe or “Hayamim Hanoraim" which
are the 10 days before Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement.
Yom Kippur is Israel’s most solemn day where each individual Jewish person is
to search their soul and repent of their sins. Many Jewish people will search
out those whom they have wronged during the past year and ask their forgiveness.
Yom Kippur is the only fast day mandated in the Bible and the Jewish nation
literally stops for 25 hours to give each person time to reflect and repent.
Israeli Foreign Minister Livni in her address this week to the United Nations said, “In
Jewish tradition, these are days of 'teshuva' - of soul-searching and prayer,
of judgment and of renewal. This concept of reflection is fitting not just for the
faithful. It should be a time of reflection for nations as well. Let us use this
time, and this gathering, to look deeply and honestly at the world in which
we live - the world as it is, and as it might be.”
In 1973, several surrounding Arab states took advantage of Israel’s inactivity
and launched a full scale military assault on Yom Kippur. Since that time security
is always heightened during the days before Yom Kippur in order for the military
to stay vigilant and keep a close account of Israel’s hostile neighbors.
This year Israeli police Chief Moshe Karadi approved the closure of Judea and
Samaria for the two day New Year celebrations. He has also placed the police force
on Operation Level 3, which is just below Emergency Level, and has placed every
available officer in the field suspending holiday leave. Roving Mobile checkpoints
will be established at random intervals on main access routes to large
population areas and several new police field offices will be set up at parks and
recreational areas for easy access to vacationers.
Israel celebrates the coming of a new year surrounded by grave external threats
to her survival. The nation has just endured a month long war with her sworn enemy
to the north, Hezbollah. To the east, Syria is assisting Hezbollah by supplying
weapons and personnel training funded by Israel’s most dangerous threat,
Iran. Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons grade Uranium in rebellion to the rest of
the world and already demonstrated that it has missiles that could easily deliver
nuclear tipped warheads into Israel. To the South, Egypt is providing the Palestinian
terrorists in the Gaza strip with an easy access point for an open flow
of weapons and terrorists through the border.
Internal threats include the Hamas terrorists that continually fire rockets into
southern Israeli communities as well as numerous terror cells operating in Judea
and Samaria that continually probe for a weakness in Israel’s defenses. Al Qaeda
is placing key personnel in the Gaza strip and recruiting terrorists in Judea
and Samaria. Israel’s own governmental body, the Knesset, have radical
Arab members that have just returned from collaborative talks with the Syrian
and Lebanese leaders.
Despite all of these pressures the Israeli leadership is optimistic for the coming
year. President Katsav said “During the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah,
a time of personal and national soul-searching, we have an obligation to act according
to sacred Jewish values and to preserve the Jewish heritage and the unity
of our people. We are facing momentous decisions in the life of the people and the country.
I believe that we will know, especially at the crucial moment, how to preserve unity,
loving and concerned brothers and sisters, even at a time of controversy and
Prime Minister Olmert addressed the nation amidst heckling calls from the audience
calling for his resignation. He said that it was his wish “that the New Year
brings security, stability and peace to our nation and its eternal, undivided
As Israel blows the Shofar for the commencement of year 5767 of the Jewish calendar,
the nation faces a year of diverse possibilities. With Israel’s survival
at risk, it is a good thing for every Israeli to start the New Year with prayers
of repentance and reliance toward God. Shana Tova! Israel.