Welcome to 2016! A year we greet differently than we expected. A year we enter into more afraid than we anticipated. Responding emotionally to acts of terror, we hear incendiary rhetoric in this year of national debate and election. What we need is the conviction to live according to our values and beliefs.
Individuals and groups who wish to harm us can’t undermine the freedoms we enjoy in our society. They can’t win a war of ideas with their hatred and irrational faith. They can scare us, however, with their callous acts of violence. Terrorists earn their title because their only accomplishment is to make us afraid. We feel terror and sadness watching the news of victims and grief.
In response, social science teaches us. When we remember what we value most and when we honor our best instincts and beliefs we look to the future with greater confidence. We respect the responsibilities that come with our freedoms. We look out for one another. We express our hopes to greet health, compassion, and goodness in the travels and travails that will be our experience in the weeks and months ahead.
David Sarnoff, a Jewish immigrant to America from Belarus and beginning in 1930 President of the Radio Corporation of America, once observed, “We cannot banish dangers, but we can banish fears.” It is a statement of the realism and optimism we learn from Jewish history and feel in our hearts.
In 2016 some of us will mark personal milestones of growth and achievement. Some of us will welcome new life, find new love, and celebrate new happiness. Some of us will overcome illness or difficulty. I pray, may very few of us experience grief and loss.
In the fullness of life we experience this year our shared values will bring us close and bind us together. In synagogue community we ask and desire this of each other. May we come together often at Chizuk Amuno to remember what we value most and in confidence honor the heartfelt emotions of our lives. Welcome to 2016!