Brothers and sisters,
Leaders of the Jewish communities of the Diaspora and their friends,
According to Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashanah represents a time of personal, community and national soul-searching. In the shadow of the events of the past months, this year, here in Israel, these days of reflection are reaffirmed and take on a special meaning.
With the kidnapping and murder of the four teenagers: Naftali, Gilad, Eyal and Muhammad; and the ongoing campaign in southern Israel in the background, the citizens of Israel and their leaders were faced with difficult dilemmas: the responsibility to defend our homes and land, alongside the concern of harming innocent people; the commitment to enable a free democratic dialogue, versus the need to set clear limits to restrain manifestations of inflammatory behavior and incitement. Israel had to respond to the threats of terror organizations from the outside, while maintaining its image and values as a Jewish and democratic state that is committed to international law and is dedicated to providing all its citizens with equality and dignity, Arabs and Jews alike.
The resilience of Israel is not based on its military strength, but emanates from the liberal, democratic and Jewish values on which it was founded. Even at a time when Israel is required to mobilize its military front, it cannot ignore its home front and the surge of violent political manifestations of incitement and hate in its streets. Israel’s leadership and Israel’s society are judged not only by their military resiliency, but also by their civil resiliency, not only in normal times, but also in times of crisis.
In the course of Operation Protective Edge, I felt that Israel was not alone in the arena. Leaders of the free world and many of the members of the various Jewish movements and communities stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel, supporting its duty to defend its citizens and identifying with its efforts to restore peace to Israel’s southern communities.
On the threshold of the New Year, I want to thank you, leaders and members of the Jewish communities, for your support of Israel’s soldiers and its home front, and especially its southern communities. It is with much anticipation that I hope we shall continue to stand together in the face of the challenges awaiting the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora in the future, generated by a sense of mutual responsibility and partnership.
The coming year is marked by Jewish tradition as a shmita year, a sabbatical year for land and man. The observance of shmita serves to slow down the economic race and utilitarianism, and see in others, a human being. I pray that this year the gates of our hearts will open to let in compassion, generosity and mutual responsibility. May the coming year bring the sound of joy, a symphony of miscellaneous Jewish voices that will unite us all as a family, community and people.
כתיבה וחתימה טובה!
Shana Tova Ve’Metuka,
Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin