As my Jewish friends are well aware, Judaism teaches that Rosh Hashanah is a time for God’s chosen people to both celebrate the beginning of an upcoming New Year, and begin the High Holy Days, the ten days of repentance.
Although judgment on each person is pronounced on Rosh Hashanah, it is not sealed or made absolute until Yom Kippur, so everyone has the opportunity to mend one’s ways, repent for their past sins, alter God’s judgment, and be included in the “Book of Life.” My fond thoughts and reflections of The High Holy Days include celebrating and worshiping together with family and friends. And the delicious round challah, signifying the “Continuity Of Creation.” And, honey cake, signifying “A Sweet New Year.” The mere thought of honey cake moves my passion to God’s miracle, the true land of milk and honey, the Great Jewish State of Israel.
Ever since my first visit to Israel in 1974, the day after graduating from high school, to work on a Kibbutz near Ber Sheva, I have held an ever growing heartfelt concern, admiration, passion, and holy respect for this undisputed biblical homeland of the Jewish people. And, when I reflect on the trials and tribulations, the numerous and horrific holocausts and pogoms the Jewish people over the centuries have been forced to endure, and weigh that against their immense contributions to humanity and civilization, it brings a tear to my eyes.
You see the real difference between the Jewish people and Bible loving Christians like myself is minimal. That was never made clearer to me, when years ago, at my first Presidential State of The Union address, I looked up at the numerous headstone silhouettes, and noticed only one was face forward, the one in the center, Moses. So appropriate.
We all travel along a life path that contains unexpected hills and valleys, but solemn days of awe such as Rosh Hashanah give us the opportunity to learn from our yesterdays, and grow into our tomorrows. Unfortunately, Israel’s tomorrow is looking cloudier as the simmering heat of summer gives way to the winter reality that the safety and security of our good friend is more than uncertain, and may well be in serious peril.
It is no secret that Israel has faced numerous external threats since declaring its independence in 1948. Armed conflict between Israel and multiple neighbors has occurred in 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982 and 2006 with radical Islamic and Palestinian threats always on the horizon. However, given these historic struggles, today more than ever in Israel’s history, the Middle East seems to be reverting to how the Hebrew Bible tells us the universe was in the beginning, “tohu wabohu,” chaos and tumult; Egypt, Syria, Libya, an immensely fragile Jordan and Lebanon, significant tensions with Turkey, a divided Palestinian people, and the greatest danger of all, Iran, who quite possibly will have the capability of delivering a direct nuclear attack on Israel. And despite all this internal chaos within each of these Arab countries and Arab peoples, there is but one common denominator, the destruction and elimination of the State of Israel.
Despite Israel’s military edge, they need the United States to unequivocally state that “not now, not ever, will they let Israel succumb to the dangers she faces.” The only real deterrent to an attack on Israel is for us to make clear to the international community, that “any attack on Israel will be responded to as if it was an attack on the United States. We will exhaust every means necessary, both diplomatic and militarily, to show our support.” Make no mistake, this is not a call for military action. Rather, this is a call for our leaders to rise up and state without qualification or hesitation, “we will not let Israel down.” And, let Iran know, “Israel’s line in the sand for nuclear development is precisely commensurate with that of the United States.”
In a statement on May 8, 1963, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed “Israel was not created in order to disappear—Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.” Those powerful words are as true today as they were 50 years ago.
As you celebrate Rosh Hashanah, I hope the year ahead holds nothing but hope and optimism for you and yours. I pray that Israel finds peace with her neighbors, as well as a reaffirmation of United States unqualified support. I trust that the best times are ahead and our unity will forever continue.
Friends, feel assured and confident during these High Holy Days, I pledge to always do everything in my power to protect and secure one of our most precious and important allies, the great Jewish State of Israel.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann