Next week we will celebrate Rosh Hashanah.
The Jewish new year is a time to reflect on the past 12 months, but it also an opportunity to take a fresh look at the future.
And on balance, that future is a bright one.
Yes, our community faces challenges. Antisemitism is ever present, and as you’ll read this week there are sadly organisations within our own community trying to handicap us in the fight against it. The owner of one of the world’s largest social media companies seems to be delighting in his own refusal to take Jew hatred seriously.
Meanwhile, the most antisemitic regime in the world – Iran – continues its march towards nuclear capability, while here in Australia, many in our community fear our government doesn’t quite understand the ramifications of its change in language on the West Bank and settlements.
But it is hard not to feel positive about our Jewish future when you see the amazing effort that our kids went to in their entries for this year’s AJN Rosh Hashanah card competition.
And proving that where you’ve been is an important marker in determining your future, the observations by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research senior representatives – who visited our communities in Sydney and Melbourne – about the interest in Yiddish among young people, are equally heartening.
In Israel too, there are rumblings of talks resuming on the judicial reform debate that has bitterly divided that country, which is so dear to us, over the last nine months. And while we were disappointed when previous rumours of a deal proved untrue, we will never give up on Israel – a nation our people yearned to return to for 2000 years – and remain ever hopeful its wounds will heal.
Rabbi Donniel Hartman is certainly enthusiastic about Israel’s future, as you will also read this week. And we read last week about The Fourth Quarter, a grassroots organisation that is gaining momentum with a mission to bring polarised Israelis back together.
Meanwhile, a normalisation deal with Saudi Arabia creeps ever closer; its realisation will be a watershed moment that cements Israel’s place in the Middle East and its acceptance by its most important neighbours.
So yes, our challenges are many, but there are more reasons to be optimistic.