“On Rosh Hashanah our inscription is written and on Yom Kippur our fate is sealed; but through Tshuvah repentance, Tfilah Prayer and Tzedaka acts of charity we can Roah et ha Gezerah temper the severity of the decree.”
Our tradition credits Amnon of Mainz, the German-Jewish martyr of the Middle Ages, with the authorship of the Une tan Tokef prayer, the climax of which I have just quoted. Legend says that he knew his death was imminent but nonetheless affirmed that neither he nor we who recite these words on our Holiest of Days are ever totally powerless.
As I prepare for the High Holy Days this year, I find myself reflecting upon the meaning of Une tane Tokef and its relationship to our challenge, as American Jews, in repairing the world. How can we, by changing our direction and our intentions, both individually and communally, make an impact this year? The resurgence of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racism, and other forms of discrimination over the course of this year has made many people feel helpless and hopeless.
But we are not powerless. The history of American Jewry teaches us that when we stand together as a community with our fellow Americans, we can─as Amnon of Mainz teaches─temper the severity of the evil that perpetrators of hate are spewing in our nation’s streets.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) was created in the darkness of the Holocaust to be the agency of the American Jewish community that convenes people to stand together with others of good will against hatred and bigotry. In order for JCPA to continue to be the consensus voice and conscience of American Jewry, I ask you to join me this Rosh Hashanah in making a meaningful and increased financial contribution to the JCPA High Holy Day Appeal.
Only with your help can we continue to fight hatred through our coalitions and partnerships with other communities and build upon our 70 years of advocacy with other racial and ethnic minorities in ensuring the American promise of “Liberty and Justice for all.”
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Rabbi Neal I Borovitz
JCPA Vice Chair