President’s Message

Sept 2015 Kol Nidre – (Berland)

Good Yontif.

Sixty million – sixty million! – the figure is mind boggling. It was called to my attention recently, and at first I thought I must have misheard. The figure alone is hard to comprehend, but in context, it’s almost completely unimaginable: it’s the number of people around the world today who have been forced to leave their homes, who have been displaced by war, persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and, yes, flat out human cruelty. Half of these refugees are children.

Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Myanmar, Colombia, Nigeria, Congo. Et cetera. The names of these places are familiar. As is the debate over what to do about them. But while the range of responses to this growing mass of tragedies is both as complex and as simple as the things that cause them, one thing is clear: as human beings, and more specifically, as Jews who have so often during our long history been displaced and exiled and in need of refuge, respond we must. And in the weeks ahead, we will be coming to you with the many ways you can be of help in mitigating the effects of this growing, tragic, human crisis. It is our obligation.

Thankfully, we today, in this sanctuary – and it is a sanctuary – are spared the direct impact of the unspeakable horrors that are consuming so much of the world. We lead secure, comfortable lives. Sure, we have reason to kvetsch from time to time – some of our reasons are good ones, others not so much. But the reality is that we are, in fact, truly blessed, and we come together on this occasion not just to atone for our shortcomings and failings, but also to express gratitude and appreciation for all the good things, the abundance of good things, that we and our families have. That we today, here in this place, are blessed with comfort and security is an undoubted truth.

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