Rosh Hashanah: New Year wishes from the community!

Rosh Hashanah: New Year wishes from the community!

Communal and political leaders share their hopes and aspirations for a sweet and prosperous 5780

Rabbi Nicky Liss – Chair, Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue & Rabbi, Highgate United Synagogue

During the recent parliamentary debates over a no-deal Brexit and a potential early election, one of our children asked me at the family dinner table to explain what was going on.

For the first time, I had to admit  that I was completely bewildered (although we did all quickly learn when the first day of Succot fell, given the potential election clash).

Until that point, I was always happy to try to clarify what was going on, but do not have the temerity to predict what might happen next!

We live in extraordinarily uncertain times and I look to the words of King David in Psalms to find comfort. “I lift my eyes up to the hills; from where (me’ayin) will my help come? My help will come from the Lord” (121:1).  The word me’ayin is usually translated ‘from where’.

Rabbi Nicky Liss

However, it can also mean ‘from nowhere’. In other words, when we lift our eyes up to the hills and realise that there is nothing else that can help us, then at that point Hashem will come to the rescue.

Despite living in such uncertain times, our community has still been blessed with exceptional and heartening events such as the one we witnessed earlier this year with the levaya (funeral) for the six kedoshim (Holocaust victims). We felt Hashem looking over us, in a moment that brought the entire breadth of the community together, led remarkably as always by the Chief Rabbi.

As we head into the unknown of 5780, may Hashem help bring respect and calm back to the public area, while continuing to provide us with special moments. And may He bless the entire Jewish community with a year filled with only good health, success and optimism for the future. Shana Tova.

Mark Regev – Israel’s Ambassador to the UK

Ambassador Mark Regev

As we welcome in the Jewish New Year, there is a great deal Jewish News readers can celebrate.

Israel has just held its election for its 22nd Knesset and, 71 years after its founding, continues to stand out from the region as a beacon of democracy, the rule of law, and liberty. It seems the rambunctiousness of our parliament has created a trend emulated even here in Westminster, by the Mother of all Parliaments!

Despite adversity, we really are building the Jewish future in the Jewish homeland. Our economy is booming, our universities are thriving, and we are amid a great global renaissance of Hebrew culture. Israel remains a land to which any one of our brothers and sisters may return, and live in freedom and prosperity.

The Israel-UK partnership is going from strength to strength. Our security cooperation is saving British and Israeli lives, and the ties between our governments have never been closer. Israeli ingenuity and British industriousness have proven to be a winning combination, with our £8.6 billion trading relationship set to grow following our trade deal.

For these reasons and many more, we really can rejoice. I wish the entire British Jewish community a happy 5780. From my family to yours, Shana Tova!


Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner – Senior Rabbi, Movement of Reform Judaism

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner

It feels as though we are living through some of the most rapid developments in human history. This year, we’ve seen change owing to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and the increasing influence of global technology companies. We may feel controlled by what our phones and computers indicate that we should be doing at any given moment.

The task for this coming year is to reaffirm the mitzvot, values and actions that are important to us when there is so much to draw our attention away from them.

We’ve experienced enormous changes before and we have kept Judaism vibrant and relevant. This is not a coincidence – Judaism is built to adapt to changing situations. There’s no question in my mind as to our capacity to use our Judaism to challenge and adapt ourselves in response to opportunities evoking
a vast mixture of emotions.

The High Holiday period offers us the moment in time to step away from the pressures of this rapidly moving world and refocus on questions of what really matters to us. We must account for ourselves and plan ahead for a year during which we remain true to the values we reflect on at this moment. It’s our annual reboot, which refreshes our identity.

May the coming year be one of intention and thoughtfulness, where we write the story of our lives with deliberation. May we all bring to life the values we all hold dear.


Rabbi Joseph Dweck – Senior Rabbi, The S&P Sephardi Community

In the throes of life, it is easy to reduce our thoughts and simply respond reflexively to what is happening. There is much upheaval and uncertainty that we face in the world at the moment. Both within the UK and in Israel. How will the issues of Brexit develop, and how will they affect our everyday lives? How will the elections in Israel impact the world stage and the standing of the Jewish people everywhere? Will the disheartening rise of antisemitism both in Europe and the United States be curtailed, or will it continue at higher volumes? These are all questions that acutely trigger our primal fear psychology. Our fight-or-flight brains are on high alert and it impacts us.

Rabbi Joseph Dweck

Our people have in our national diary a day in which, with the blast of a shofar, we pause and look at our lives from the place of purpose and meaning. That day is Rosh Hashanah. In doing so, we have an opportunity to realign with our deepest self and stand with integrity against the waves. We draw from the depths of the steadfast soul of our ancient people and we know in our hearts that come what may, Am Yisrael Chai – the nation of Israel lives.

Shana tova and tizku leshanim rabot. 


Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg – Senior Rabbi, Masorti Judaism UK

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

‘Truth and peace have fallen in love’: how far our world feels today from these words in the leader’s meditation that precedes the deepest moments of prayer on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Yet, in a time of fake truths, political frustration, growing populism and resurgent racism and antisemitism, it is essential to keep faith with them. Truth, peace and love are the heart of our values.

What we must do to make this  Shana Tova a genuinely good year for the world  is to speak truth in our own hearts, before God, and to each other.  In this period of crisis for societies worldwide and nature itself, our duties are loyalty to our own community; support for those of us struggling with poverty, homelessness, illness and mental illness; solidarity with the victims of bigotry and hate; and urgent action to protect and preserve our shared beautiful planet. If we each contribute in our own way, yet work together in integrity and compassion, we can help make truth and peace meet once again in a better and safer world. L’Shana Tova.


Rabbi Danny Rich – Chief Executive, Liberal Judaism

Liberal religion – and Liberal Judaism is no exception – attempts to strike a balance between challenge and comfort, between the new and the known and, as we approach the Days of Awe, this sentiment seems more relevant than in past years.

Rabbi Danny Rich

The UK finds itself in a state of parliamentary stalemate and political rupture as it seeks to fulfil the result of the EU referendum. Private tensions are high; public discourse is intolerant; and many feel insecure about what the future holds.

Religious faith often has the task of leading change, of challenging a prevailing sense of complacency, but today it has a contrary duty – to offer comfort in the face of the unknown, to proffer a sense of familiarity to those who feel adrift. Festivals are an opportunity to us that, if the outside world is one of chaos, the Jewish liturgy and community offers a sense of ‘at one ment’. May each one of us, our community, and our country find a sense of quietness and self-confidence to face the coming year.


Jonathan Goldstein – Chairman, Jewish Leadership Council (JLC)

Jonathan Goldstein

In my last pre-Rosh Hashanah message, I wrote that we will not allow our wonderful vibrant community to be defined by those who do not have our interests at heart. That is as true today as it was then.

Despite the immense challenges facing British Jewry – be it in relation to the Labour Party and its ongoing failure to tackle Jew-hatred, or the fallout from divisive issues such as Brexit, our community is still thriving. Our schools remain top class. Our community organisations, many of which are members of the JLC are going from strength to strength. Our children are connecting to Israel and their Jewish identity in continually greater numbers.

When I look at our community today, I see a community glowing in pride. I see Jews in the public arena come out and talk about their Jewish identity in a way I couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago. And I see a community that has taken the challenges faced by the depressing national conversations and used the opportunity to explain who we are, with that pride, to the outside world.

If there is anything to take into this coming year, it is to remain proud of who we are and to continue to stand strong in the face of adversity.

Shana tova and gmar chatima tova.


Marie van der Zyl  – President, Board of Deputies

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies

Last year, my Rosh Hashanah message told of the way the Jewish community came together to proclaim in a loud and firm voice,  ‘Enough is Enough’ on antisemitism in the Labour Party.

Since then, the antisemitism crisis has not gone away. However, our campaign has had great successes, notably the suspension of serial offenders, including Chris Williamson and Peter Willsman and the expulsion of Jackie Walker.

There is understandable anxiety in our community about the way racists within Labour have been emboldened to express their disgraceful views. However, as I have been saying since I assumed the presidency of this great organisation in 2018, there is another story to be told.

It is the story of a long-standing community that has lived peacefully in the UK for centuries; a community which, since we were allowed back into this country by Oliver Cromwell, has had the freedom to practise our religion and live a truly Jewish life within a respectful society.

In return, our community has contributed great things: in the arts, in society, in business and in politics and science. We have produced major figures from Abba Eban to Amy Winehouse, from Isaiah Berlin to Mark Ronson. With the prevailing conditions of freedom and respect, our community has flourished over the past centuries and, despite worries over the revival of mainstream antisemitism, most of us lead happy Jewish lives.

May Rosh Hashanah bring you, your families and all of Am Yisrael health, strength and peace.

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