A Message for the New Year

Here is the piece that I'll be submitting to the String of Pearls newsletter:

Elohim, ten li et h'atikvah lekabel ma she'ein Ten li et hakoach leshanot et ma sheken. et haomets lenasot letaken et ha'olam.

G-d, give me the hope to accept what there isn't
Give me the strength to change what is
Give me the courage to try to fix the world.

These words, although they could have been chanted in a Psalm by King David, a poem by Yehudah Halevi, or a prayer by Levi of Berdichev, are from Israeli hip hop artist Subliminal. He writes:

You promised a dove, in the sky there's a hawk
Brother, poisonous twig pricks, this is not an olive branch
Living in a dream, everybody talks about peace
But they shoot, oppress, pull, squeeze the trigger
In a world of suicide attacks, the people are still talking
Living in an illusion of righteousness, they widen the rift in the nation.

Pass madness every day in order to survive
Don't want to live in order to fight,
I fight in order to live
Plant hope, send out roots Shield in my body for the dream so it won't be shattered to splinters
Enough, enough with the hurt, enough with the tears
A year that the land bleeds not sleeping and why?

The line I love to repeat is “plant hope, send out roots, shield in my body for the dream.”
And this summer I had an amazing opportunity to plant some hope within me. In July, Lisa and I traveled (sans kids – thanks Silbermans!) to the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona. This event, held every five years, brought eight thousand religious people from across the globe for religious dialogue. At a time when religious extremists seem to have grabbed hold of our global steering wheel, this gathering was like a collective act of putting on the brakes, saying, “Stop – What are we killing each other over?” Sitting on the floor of the Sikh Gudwara eating a simple bowl of lentils and speaking with religious leaders from Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere, I felt that perhaps voices advocating peace can take the wheel back and steer it in the direction that we all need to go in – towards a sustainable planet. But I know that it will take much work to do this.

The High Holidays are also about taking hold of the wheel. We ask: What direction am I headed in? How do I get back to that place where I did feel at peace? How can I drive through this storm?

To answer these questions we must stop our routine and enter into another space. We put the brakes on – and we reflect. At the end, perhaps we can plant some hope - Hope that will send out roots for the coming year.

Shana Tovah U’Metukah