Herzog’s Rosh Hashanah Message

President Chaim Herzog issued the following message to Jewish communities around the world on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah 5747:

It is in the shadow of the recent unbelievably savage attack on Sabbath worshippers in Istanbul, that I send you these heartfelt greetings and hopes for the New Year 5747.

Memories of the dark pages in our old and modern history have been revived for us, and the contemporary effort to rebuild Jewish life on new national foundations takes on additional meaning. Once more we are forcibly reminded of the vulnerability of the Jewish minority position and the need for the base and strength the Jewish State provides.

Israel in this past year has been deeply involved in the strengthening of its economic and political position; in social reform; in the difficult effort to realize its cultural and scientific potential; in the struggle against international terrorism; in the search for peace.

This is a very full and most demanding national agenda, and the conditions are not easy. Yet we can look back with some gratification on definite progress during the year.

The national unity government has functioned with a substantial measure of success, proving that cooperation in the general interest can overcome ideological and political differences.

The economic recovery program has succeeded in conquering galloping inflation and in introducing a sober and reasoned approach to the problems of the economy. Though hardship and strain affect many individuals and an era of growth has not yet begun, the road ahead seems clearly marked.

THE ROAD AHEAD

The road ahead is not totally blocked even in the sphere of Arab-Israeli understanding to-ward peace. Prime Minister (Shimon) Peres’ official visit to Morocco, and his summit meeting with President (Hosni) Mubarak of Egypt in Alexandria, have been decisive steps forward towards a more normal relationship with the Arab world.

Looking back on the decades of unmitigated Arab hostility, we see a striking change in the political environment of the Middle East. Where the very thought of understanding or communication with Israel was taboo, dialogue is now clearly accepted.

The change is not all-encompassing or immediate, but it is there. So, too, apertures are opening to Eastern Europe, almost hermetically closed to Israel since 1967. Relations with Poland are taking shape; there has been initial official contact with the Soviet Union.

To every change of this sort we are all necessarily most sensitive, for the fate of Soviet Jewry remains a major and burning concern of the Jewish world and the State of Israel. A trickle of aliya sometimes brings us precious individuals, but the life and future of many thousands of others are gravely threatened. There can be no relaxation in the effort to liberate them.

KEY TO PRESERVING JEWISH IDENTITY

There can be no relaxation, either, in Israel’s effort to absorb its Ethiopian olim wisely and effectively. As in their case, every group that makes up the mosaic of Israel’s life, mirroring the diaspora of the ages, must, without losing its identity, contribute to the cultural consensus of the reassembled Jewish people.

Education is thus one of Israel’s highest priorities, while it is increasingly recognized by Jewish communities everywhere as the key to the preservation of identity and commitment on the part of the younger generation. To the members of that generation I issue the call to come and join us in Israel and help to build the land that is the center of our people’s life.

We look to 5747 in the hope that it may be a year of peace and growth, aliya and cultural enrichment, a year indeed where in the great phrase of the Rosh Hashanah liturgy, all men will come together in unison to respond wholeheartedly to the Divine Will.

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