A Rosh Hashanan perspective

September 24, 2019 by Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann
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“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~Anne Frank.

Rabbi Gabi Kaltman

When a new year rolls around it always seems like the previous year has flown by and the inevitable question of where has the time gone comes to mind. Whenever Rosh Hashanah feels like it is again on the horizon I like to personally take stock of my year. What did I achieve, what did I not yet manage to complete and also assess what changes I need to implement into my life for the year ahead.

The past year has also been very difficult as the atrocities and hate that appears to emanate from so many places have seemed to come closer to home. America witnessed two Synagogue shootings resulting in the death of innocent congregants in houses of worship and closer to home, we witnessed the attacks against churches in Sri Lanka and mosques in Christchurch.

 In the face of such terror and such hate, it is almost impossible to fathom what drives such actions. We live in the most prosperous time that humankind has ever seen. The medical advances are immense and people no longer die from preventable diseases and there is enough food created in the world that no one should have to go hungry anymore.

 There is always still room for improvement in the world, but I have faith that the areas that need greater progress, have the brightest minds working on them and together we can all continue to contribute to creating a better society for all.

 Living in a country like Australia can sometimes allow you to become complacent. All the good things that one desire are easily accessible at one’s fingertips. Instead of appreciating what we have, we may start to take it for granted and instead of having gratitude, the complaints manifest.

 With antisemitism on the rise across the world and the ugly head of hate rearing its head in full force, we have to be vigilant and ensure that we safeguard against hate both here and overseas. From casual comments which disrespect others, to allowing our platforms to be manipulated by those that seek to sow discord and disharmony.

As Jews, we know all too well what it is like to be a persecuted minority and we have to ensure that we speak out against this kind of bigotry and hate.

 In addition to the usual festivities, the ahead year hold special significance as the first in the new decade.

 Thinking in a ten-year time frame really makes you look at long term goals, and gives you time to assess the intermediate steps to reaching your goal. It takes the focus off the day to day comings and goings and occasional setbacks we might have. It certainly is easier to look at a bump in the road and feel less pressured about it when you are looking at a 10-year time frame than one of a number of months!

 In such an exciting era of growth and possibility, we do not want to be seen as the generation that did not use our potential to contribute and give back to those less fortunate.

 From a personal perspective, one will reflect the usual questions such as: Where do you want to be living in 5780? What would you like your home to be like in ten years? Your friends? Your family? What kind of job do you want to have? Who do you want to be sharing your life with?

 From a community-wide perspective, our ten-year goals should include growing our community, attracting Jews that are not connected, welcoming a diverse crowd, engaging more young people and running programs and events that nourish our spiritual and physical needs.

 Rosh Hashanah, with the sound of the shofar, is a wake-up call that the year has flown by, but there is still much that needs to be done and still much that we can personally do.

 I know that in the coming year ahead, 5780, I will try to work on myself as much as possible and contribute to the causes that are near and dear to my heart. Likewise, I implore our community to take a moment to reflect and see what your personal abilities allow you to positively contribute to the world around you both for the year and decade ahead.

 It’s time to get to work!

Rabbi Gabi Kaltman is the spiritual leader of Melbourne’s Ark Centre


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