Turning the Year Around
January 3, 2020
By Rabbi Jonathan Freirich

We must have hope!

Last month at the Biennial of the Union of Reform Judaism in Chicago, many of us from Buffalo and all across North America got to learn with Dr. Miriam Heller Stern, the National Director of the School of Education and Associate Professor at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles.

Dr. Heller Stern identified Seven Jewish Creative Sensibilities.

Right now, I believe we must remember one of these: Yeish Tikva – “There is hope!”

When Judah in this week’s Torah reading faced certain death and the failure of his mission to get food for their family from the cruel Egyptian, who happened to be his long-lost brother Joseph, he never abandoned hope. Judah continued to argue for their lives, for the life of Benjamin, and for the continuation of their family that would become the Jewish People.

We do not give up.

An essential aspect of Judaism is that even in the face of the worst of circumstances, we believe that there is hope.

After a month of horrific attacks against our people here in our home state of New York, and throughout our country and the world, when we justifiably feel at risk, we must rally ourselves and our communities, join with our neighbors from all backgrounds, and once more demand and work towards a better society.

We cannot let the end of 2019 drag us down. We must lead the way in 2020 as we all work together for a world that is safe for our families, for Jews, and for all peoples.

Against all odds, Judah persisted, and would eventually lead the reconciliation with Joseph.

As we enter the readings of Exodus, we know that we are the people who triumph against tyrants, who turn the tables on troubles, on tzurrus, and who find hope in the darkness.

Yeish Tikvah!” – there is always hope.

Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Jonathan Freirich is a spiritual leader of Temple Beth Zion.

Turning the Year Around - Jewish thought of the week graphic