By Rabbi Roberto Graetz, Rabbinic Cabinet

Just before the shofar is sounded in the third movement of the Shofar Service on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish people plead "Lead us with song to Zion Your city, with everlasting joy to Jerusalem, the place of Your sanctuary..."

Many of us have been blessed to witness the rebirth of the State of Israel. In the beginning we all felt the urge to sing songs of Zion, to rejoice in our presence in our ancestral land. Sixty years later the old songs have grown stale.  They remind us of the time when hope was high, the air charged with possibilities, the road to a peaceful existence almost clearly mapped before us.  There is a dearth of new song in the land and the joy sometimes seems to be sucked out of the enterprise of state building.

At the time when all Jews are called to teshuvah, to return to their core, the plea reminds us of the centrality of the land in the life of our people.  We cannot despair; neither can we turn our backs.  We cannot imagine our lives without Israel yet we need to imagine an Israel redeemed through a generous peace.  We need that image in front of us always, and ever new roadmaps on how to realize the vision. 

We can turn towards Zion in song when we see coexistence efforts succeeding.  We can turn towards Zion in song when two viable states living in peace with each other are fashioned. We can turn towards Zion in song when checkpoints are transformed into connecting bridges.  There are no songs in empty gestures, no melodies that flow from the rehashing of old mantras that say, "peace, peace, yet there is no peace!"

The time of turning is now.  Let the call of the shofar awaken us to the possibility that Jerusalem may become again a place of sanctuary for Jews, Christians and Muslims. That it be for us a source of everlasting joy.  Let us dream of a generous peace in the New Year and stay active on the path that needs to be traveled. Let us be the writers of new songs, the harbingers of everlasting joy.

Suggestions for Rosh Hashanah:

  • Share copies of the Brit Tzedek brochure or download our newest recruitment letter with family, friends and acquaintances at holiday events and bring them to the informational table of your synagogue if appropriate. You can request copies of the brochure by emailing info@btvshalom.org.  

  • When you recite the Al Chet — the list of sins prefaced by the words "for the sin which I have committed against you," — reflect on the significance of the tradition of reciting this in unison with your community and the responsibility that we bear as American Jews for "resolving the wrongs" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • Send a High Holiday greeting card to your Senators and Congressional Representatives urging them to support policies that promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians. If your Senator has signed on to the Feinstein/Lugar resolution or your Representative has signed on to the Davis Mideast envoy resolution, H. Res. 143 you can thank them. Be certain to also mention your support for Brit Tzedek v'Shalom as a force working to mobilize the American Jewish community as advocates for a negotiated, two-state solution to the conflict.

Contact information for your Senators     Contact information for your Representative


  • Consider what you as an American Jew can do in the coming year to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Here are some ideas:
    • Respond to Brit Tzedek's action alerts.

    • Become involved in your local Brit Tzedek chapter. To find out more email chapter@btvshalom.org.

    • Organize a discussion in your synagogue, Havurah or home about Brit Tzedek’s work or issues related to its message. For guidance, email chapter@btvshalom.org.

    • Contribute generously in support of Brit Tzedek's important work in making heard the voice of the many American Jews who support an active US government role in facilitating a negotiated, two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Additional High Holy Day Resources:

Rabbi Roberto Graetz joined Temple Isaiah, Lafayette, California in San Francisco’s East Bay, in 1991 after having served as rabbi in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for almost 20 years. He acted as the Director for Latin America for the World Union for Progressive Judaism, was active in human rights issues during the military dictatorship in Argentina, and worked on behalf of the street children in Rio de Janeiro. Since joining Temple Isaiah Rabbi Graetz has served on Jewish and non-Jewish nonprofit boards. Presently he is the Chairperson of Contra Costa Interfaith Housing, a coalition of faith communities working to increase transitional and affordable housing in his county, the Chairperson of the Pacific Central West Region of ARZA/WUNA and serves on the Executive Committee of the North American Board of Rabbis for Human Rights.  Rabbi Graetz is a member of Brit Tzedek’s Rabbinic Cabinet.


Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
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Phone: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206
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