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
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
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
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by emailing firstname.lastname@example.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.
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year to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Here are
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government role in facilitating a negotiated, two-state solution
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- Additional High Holy Day Resources:
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.
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