The Jewish new year, like many milestones on the calendar, is a time to contemplate the past and rededicate oneself to the future. Whether recommitting to prior goals, shedding old habits or starting anew, it’s a reminder of what is important to each of us. It’s a new chance at “A New Beginning.”
In his Erev Rosh Hashanah (the start of the two-day holiday) sermon, punctuated by the traditional blowing of the Shofar, Sinai Temple’s Rabbi Wolpe said that his teachings and temple leadership this year, will in part be dedicated to community. He talked about the greater Jewish community as an extended family coming together around important moments throughout life — whether a holiday celebration, a minyan, or a movement to free two million Jews trapped behind the iron curtain — and the importance of that community in supporting the individuals within it. Quoting an African proverb, Rabbi Wolpe said “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It’s not hard to understand the wisdom of that proverb, but what if you don’t feel that there is a community — an extended family — to go with? How far will you go before you are lost and alone? This is the very dilemma facing young ex-Soviet Jews around the world today.
Fortunately, in recent years, organizations have begun to sprout around the country to try to stem the tide of attrition and assimilation among young ex-Soviet Jews. One such effort in Los Angeles is the organization “Ru-Ju-LA”. Recently invigorated by the support of the Jewish Agency for Israel, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Genesis Philanthropy Group (which is supporting these initiatives all over the world), Ru-Ju-LA is creating a community for the Russian-speaking Jewish young adults of Los Angeles. Earlier this summer, I was asked to make a 1-minute power-documentary about the need for and the impact of this organization. Apropos of Rosh Hashanah, it’s called “A New Begining.”
I wish each of you a sweet, healthy new year in which you find/embrace/recommit yourself to your community. May each of us go far this year.