Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Jim Shipley
Shipley Speaks 

Another shot


I don’t know, maybe it is age, but the years roll around awfully fast (yeah, it’s age). Was it a full year ago we were preparing for the High Holy Days? OK, so we know that Jewish holidays are never “on time.”

“Oy! Didn’t Yom Kippur come early this year?” “Passover is when? Too late this year!”

The drill is the same. Ten days to figure out whom you really wronged over the past year and make amends. That is highly subjective. Did I really wrong him? “Ah—he deserved it and besides he wouldn’t even notice!”

That’s not the idea and he probably did—both things. This according to our sages, is not enough. You know when you were wrong and you know to whom. So, ’fess up and make the call.

Tough one is the second half. Standing before God with an empty stomach and coming to grips with your personal failures over this past year. That’s tough. You are being asked to identify your own failures. And, in theory you are facing a being, a philosophy, an omniscient “God” that already knows what the real failures were this past year.

Probably does not involve money, much as you may think different. It is, I am afraid, not so much the things we have done as much as the things we have not done. As the world has gone digital, one of the victims has been the daily newspaper. Not only do we do so much reading on line, we do a lot without checking the reliability of the source.

So we can so easily spread “Lashon Harra”—false accusations and gossip that appear as credible as the truth when they drip from the computer screen.

How many times in this past year did we engage in tikun olam, the duty of every Jew to heal the world?” There remains so much misery and injustice in the world that there certainly is enough for all of us to do—and most of it without any great sacrifice on our part.

Tikun olam reaches beyond faith, color, nationality. Wrong is wrong. And righting wrong is what healing the world is all about. Chances are you cannot take off for Israel on short notice and find a project in need. Money—yeah, there’s always that.

Stand before your God and tell him (or her) that you dispensed money to this or that cause. And that’s good! But where was your personal involvement? What emotions or passions did this involve. Do you actually know the life or lives of those toward whom you wrote that check?

We Jews have always been at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. First of all because we are intimately involved. Anti-Semitism in today’s world? Damn straight! But what have you done about the Voter Suppression Acts that are roiling states across the nation?

Have you voiced concern to your state or national representatives? Attended a town meeting? Blogged? Jews have always been leaders in any movement for positive change. This is no time to stop and this time of year is a great one for reflecting on what our true responsibilities are as Jews.

Hey! Did not mean to get “preachy” but as I contemplated this column I looked inward and decided—you know, I am not fully taking my responsibility as a Jew—not enough. So, this is for me at least as much as for you, dear reader, to reflect on.

The world is in at least as much chaos this year as last. As Jews we look at what was called the Arab Spring and see what that has wrought. Nations that were cobbled together by European interests after the first World War breaking apart, as they had to eventually.

Egypt, the largest of them in such turmoil as our new year approaches, we wonder what new pharaoh will emerge. The Muslim Brotherhood was not and is not a friend to Israel or any Jew. But what will the crackdown bring? More jihadists?

Look to Syria and realize this is not a civil war as much as a religious battle between various types of Islam. What possible good can this do Israel?

Israel remains strong and resolute. Its new government is wrestling with a number of internal issues and hey, they are all Jews, so the arguments go on.

Look, be a good Jew this year. Tell God you will take care of your own little corner. Based on what I just wrote, it is apparent that he has enough on his hands without your kvetches.

Shana tova to all of you. May this indeed be a sweet year and one where we gather those who count around us and bask in the joys of belonging to such an amazing people.

Looking at history, I guess we have no right to be still here. But here we are. And next year at this time let us be able to tell God that, yeah, we did good.


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