Dear friends, “May the old year and its curses come to an end; May the New Year and its blessings begin” reads one of poems that Sephardic Jews recite on Rosh Hashanah. As we begin 2016, these words come to mind. We are for the most part glad to see 2015 go. It was a year marked by terrible violence particularly the rise of ISIS. Not since the period of the Holocaust, has the world seen such brutality openly and often proudly displayed. People such as the Yazidi and Christian minorities have been treated in a genocidal manner. The world community has been unable or perhaps unwilling to stop the bloodshed. We have seen terror not only on the streets of Jerusalem but on the streets of Paris and San Bernardino. The future of not only the Middle East but of the entire world is in doubt. Within our own country, there is also a sense of unease and disquiet. Some of this is focused around the upcoming presidential elections. Much of it, however, is deeper and has to do with deep social change and our difficulty adjusting to new realities and ideas. It is a period where we have to work hard just to keep our balance. I am reminded of the famous line from the Broadway play we are all familiar with: “Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof” There is not much that we can do about the world situation, though perhaps there are small steps we can take, What we can do is what Jews have always done in difficult times: strengthen ourselves through involvement in our community and study of the Torah and keeping our traditions. Our synagogue can be the place where we gather the strength and the spiritual resources to cope with the world around us. May our prayers be heard and 2016 become a year of blessing,
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