In this high holiday season when we mark new beginnings and seek forgiveness, can we personally respond individually and also communally? I approach the new year with contemplation and purpose. New beginnings provide the possibilities for change, progress and optimism.
Forgiveness can be challenging and is not an easy concept. It requires honesty for a person to acknowledge that they have made a mistake. It takes courage to ask someone we have hurt to forgive us. It takes action as we can’t sit back and hope time will heal all wounds and personal feelings. At times it requires perseverance as we may have to ask for forgiveness several times before relationships can be repaired and forgiveness granted.
I feel the need to confront both individual and communal forgiveness. I will request forgiveness from my family and friends whom I may have unintentionally hurt or offended this year. I know I can’t ask God to forgive me for my personal transgressions. I alone must take action and seek forgiveness from the individuals I have slighted.
At the same time, I feel troubled about the people being hurt by the actions of individuals and our country. In this new season I must do more than pray to God for more equality, human and civil rights, and peace. To stand idly by in the face of injustice is to be complicit with it.
We are blessed to live in Atlanta with our growing Jewish community, visionary leaders, significant organizations and congregations, and countless opportunities for tikkun olam.
If we are personally pained by the bias against Israel, Holocaust denial, increased anti-Semitism and hate crimes, is there a role for us? If we are troubled by gun violence, hunger and homelessness, attacks on reproductive freedom, privacy and individual rights, do we feel a call to action? If we remember our ancestors’ history of seeking safe haven in America and are distressed at the denial of refugees pursuing asylum at our borders and the immigrants being deported to face possible death in returning to the countries of their birth, should we respond?
In this season of renewal, do these inequities cause you to wonder if we are losing this country’s sacred values? My answer to these questions is YES. We can’t solve all of these issues, nor can we resist taking action. We may not be responsible for the world’s problems, nor must we ask for forgiveness. I personally cannot see this injustice without doing my part to bring about some small measure of healing. I cannot forgive myself if I do nothing.
Thankfully, each of us with our diverse political views can take advantage of being a part of this wonderful Atlanta Jewish community and can volunteer and make a difference. We can usher in the Jewish new year by opening our hearts and seeking opportunities for forgiveness with individuals as well as communities in need of healing.