September 05, 2021

Slamming the door on 5781

Whilst we can all say Shehecheyanu with thanks to G-d for seeing us safely into a new year, 5781 is one of those exceptionally bad years that our people should be relieved to see the back of.

Our daily lives have been turned upside-down by the Wuhan virus which has affected our livelihoods, separated families between streets as well as countries, denied our children the education and social interactions that go with normal school life and – perhaps even more difficult for all of us Lovers of Zion – has prevented us from freely travelling to the land we love so much. If the pandemic taught us anything, it was never to take things for granted. Not health, not school, not air travel and not even basic freedoms … even freedom of speech on social media.

Aside from all things Covid, 5781 was beset by many tragedies in our global Jewish family. First came Meron on Lag B’Omer with the death of 45 men and boys in a stampede that left hundreds of others injured. Then the collapse of the bleachers at a Hassidic gathering in Jerusalem on the eve of Shavuot killing 3 and injuring 200. A cable car accident in Italy wiped out 3 generations of an Israeli family. A light airplane crash in Ukraine killed 3 yeshiva boys and a gangland shooting in Denver ended the life of an 18-year-old yeshiva student. And then the big one, a building collapse in the predominantly Jewish section of Miami Beach claimed almost 100 lives in the worst accident of its kind in US history.

To add to the pandemic and all these tragedies came the latest missile war from Gaza and the civil unrest that presented such an ugly face in Israel’s mixed towns and neighbourhoods. That ugliness extended to us here in the diaspora with an unprecedented rise in antisemitism here in the UK and Europe but more surprisingly in the USA.  The shine has now definitely worn off what used to be called ‘the golden medina’.

In politics we lost both Trump and Netanyahu – a dream team for Israel that is unlikely to reappear for a very long time. In their place we now have Biden who is hopeless and Bennett who is feckless. Both men elected on false pretences. One hopes karma will soon catch up with them and restore strong and bold leadership to both nations.

Where Israel is concerned, you have to be blind not to see the hand of G-d in its survival against impossible odds in endless wars and its deliverance from so many mortal threats and plots. And as for us in the diaspora, what is the purpose of antisemitism if not as a counterweight to assimilation? We must have faith that even in all this adversity there is a purpose; part of the grand biblical promise of returning our people from all corners of the earth to the land G-d promised to our patriarchs

Let’s pray that the mission is fulfilled speedily in our days.

Shana Tova !

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