Politicizing the Jewish New Year

In his recent address to the American Jewish community on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah, President Obama could not stop himself from contorting the meaning of the holiday and insulting the Jewish community in the process.

Here is the text of the speech:

As Jews in America and around the world celebrate the first of the High Holy Days I want to extend my warmest wishes for the New Year. L'shana Tova Tikatevu - may you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the spiritual calendar and the birth of the world. It serves as a reminder of the special relationship between God and his children, now and always. And it calls us to look within ourselves - to repent for our sins; recommit ourselves to prayer; and remember the blessings that come from helping those in need.

Today, those lessons ring as true as they did thousands of years ago. And as we begin this New Year, it is more important than ever to believe in the power of humility and compassion to deepen our faith and repair our world.

At a time when too many of our friends and neighbors are struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads, it is up to us to do what we can to help those less fortunate.

At a time when prejudice and oppression still exist in the shadows of our society, it is up to us to stand as a beacon of freedom and tolerance and embrace the diversity that has always made us stronger as a people.

And at a time when Israelis and Palestinians have returned to direct dialogue, it is up to us to encourage and support those who are willing to move beyond their differences and work towards security and peace in the Holy Land. Progress will not come easy, it will not come quick. But today we had an opportunity to move forward, toward the goal we share -- two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

The scripture teaches us that there is "a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace." In this season of repentance and renewal, let us commit ourselves to a more hopeful future.

Michelle and I wish all who celebrate Rosh Hashanah a sweet year full of health and prosperity.

Adding insult to injury, after redefining these days of inner transformation for the Jew, Obama, in his poorly worded text (except for the very first and very last short sentences)takes it upon himself to universalize the Jewish high holidays and appoint himself as leader by making the supposed Rosh Hashanah  goals he articulates as "our" goals and hopes. "Let us commit ourselves to a more hopeful future" is Obama's familiar and empty appeal to "hope." And to whom do we have hope, Mr. Obama?  "It is up to us" to help the less fortunate, he intones, setting up the government as a social justice agency.  By contrast, every Jew knows that it is not simply "up to us," rather, through an extensive process of teshuvah, regretting the sin, confessing to God and elevating ourselves by not repeating the sin into the future -- the Almighty will lead us to improve our lives and through such refinement, the world will be elevated in accordance with God's will.  Rosh Hashanah is for the Jews to look within themselves, not for an outsider to have "us" the body politic, follow suit via an alternative political rationale. 

As a US President, Obama could have had his speechwriters pen a simple and respectful address to the Jewish community.  Or he could have gone further and even added some text that was slightly flattering to the Jewish people -- that would have been lovely.  To indicate that these days of awe have served Jews well so that they have become well-known over-achievers would have been an excellent statement and could have given some needed heft to his slipping support among our Jewish community.  Two solid options -- yet Obama decided to throw them away and go with a third option instead, which served to hammer home his own arrogance and insult the Jewish community as if no one would notice.  How tragic.

As a hopeless ideologue, Obama cannot seem to help himself as he hijacked the intent and meaning of Rosh Hashanah for partisan political purposes, therefore, what was supposed to be a nice message to the Jewish community quickly became his own stump speech that advocated for embracing diversity, fighting prejudice, and having a two-state solution in the Middle East, etc.--items conspicuous in their absence from any Rosh Hashashah machzor.

A simple statement of good will might appear to be the easiest kind of Presidential nicety so it is truly revealing that this President cannot make such an easy statement.  He insists on being offensive.
In his recent address to the American Jewish community on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah, President Obama could not stop himself from contorting the meaning of the holiday and insulting the Jewish community in the process.

Here is the text of the speech:

As Jews in America and around the world celebrate the first of the High Holy Days I want to extend my warmest wishes for the New Year. L'shana Tova Tikatevu - may you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the spiritual calendar and the birth of the world. It serves as a reminder of the special relationship between God and his children, now and always. And it calls us to look within ourselves - to repent for our sins; recommit ourselves to prayer; and remember the blessings that come from helping those in need.

Today, those lessons ring as true as they did thousands of years ago. And as we begin this New Year, it is more important than ever to believe in the power of humility and compassion to deepen our faith and repair our world.

At a time when too many of our friends and neighbors are struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads, it is up to us to do what we can to help those less fortunate.

At a time when prejudice and oppression still exist in the shadows of our society, it is up to us to stand as a beacon of freedom and tolerance and embrace the diversity that has always made us stronger as a people.

And at a time when Israelis and Palestinians have returned to direct dialogue, it is up to us to encourage and support those who are willing to move beyond their differences and work towards security and peace in the Holy Land. Progress will not come easy, it will not come quick. But today we had an opportunity to move forward, toward the goal we share -- two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

The scripture teaches us that there is "a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace." In this season of repentance and renewal, let us commit ourselves to a more hopeful future.

Michelle and I wish all who celebrate Rosh Hashanah a sweet year full of health and prosperity.

Adding insult to injury, after redefining these days of inner transformation for the Jew, Obama, in his poorly worded text (except for the very first and very last short sentences)takes it upon himself to universalize the Jewish high holidays and appoint himself as leader by making the supposed Rosh Hashanah  goals he articulates as "our" goals and hopes. "Let us commit ourselves to a more hopeful future" is Obama's familiar and empty appeal to "hope." And to whom do we have hope, Mr. Obama?  "It is up to us" to help the less fortunate, he intones, setting up the government as a social justice agency.  By contrast, every Jew knows that it is not simply "up to us," rather, through an extensive process of teshuvah, regretting the sin, confessing to God and elevating ourselves by not repeating the sin into the future -- the Almighty will lead us to improve our lives and through such refinement, the world will be elevated in accordance with God's will.  Rosh Hashanah is for the Jews to look within themselves, not for an outsider to have "us" the body politic, follow suit via an alternative political rationale. 

As a US President, Obama could have had his speechwriters pen a simple and respectful address to the Jewish community.  Or he could have gone further and even added some text that was slightly flattering to the Jewish people -- that would have been lovely.  To indicate that these days of awe have served Jews well so that they have become well-known over-achievers would have been an excellent statement and could have given some needed heft to his slipping support among our Jewish community.  Two solid options -- yet Obama decided to throw them away and go with a third option instead, which served to hammer home his own arrogance and insult the Jewish community as if no one would notice.  How tragic.

As a hopeless ideologue, Obama cannot seem to help himself as he hijacked the intent and meaning of Rosh Hashanah for partisan political purposes, therefore, what was supposed to be a nice message to the Jewish community quickly became his own stump speech that advocated for embracing diversity, fighting prejudice, and having a two-state solution in the Middle East, etc.--items conspicuous in their absence from any Rosh Hashashah machzor.

A simple statement of good will might appear to be the easiest kind of Presidential nicety so it is truly revealing that this President cannot make such an easy statement.  He insists on being offensive.

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