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A Troubled World Greets Rosh Hashana This Year

Rosh Hashana is traditionally regarded as the birthday of the world by the Jewish people. This year, the faithful will ponder not only their place in the world, but the future of that world as well.

At sunset on September 17, 2001, Jews begin a new year. Rosh Hashana marks the beginning of 10 days of introspection and prayer. They will be pondering their place in a remade world. They enter it wondering about a new world.

During the coming days, Jews will gather in temples and synagogues and read out a long list of sins, committed individually and as a community. One of the most grievous is "Sinat Chinam," which translates as "Causeless Hate."

For many Jews, the atrocities committed by the terrorists on September 11, 2001 to America ranks as number one in a long list of Sinat Chinam. "I can't think of a sin that more pointedly needs fixing now," David M. Hutt, president of Shaarey Tikvah Congregation in Beachwood, Ohio said.

The first traditional act of the invocation of Rosh Hashana is the Blowing the shofar, or ram's horn. This may take more meaning this year. The short staccato note stands for the cry of humanity; the longer blasts bracketing it are meant as the sounds of hope.

Here are a few comments from Jewish leaders on the current issues as they welcome the New Year:

"I think it's Rosh Hashana for America. I think America now has to think about its place in the world, in a new year, in a new day."
Rabbi Lawrence S. Zierler, Jewish Community Center of Cleveland, Ohio.

"Talmud states that 'Whoever kills one person, it's as if he kills an entire universe.'
Forgiveness is part of Rosh Hashana, but it has no part in the discussion of terrorism. Judaism also requires accountability and justice. Here, forgiveness does not enter into the equation."
David Ariel, Cleveland College of Jewish Studies, Ohio

"The emphasis on forgiveness during the holy days is difficult this year. I am still in the disbelief stage. You are angry. You grieve. But I also know the only way you are really going to root out evil is by being good. Everything else is just a boomerang."
Rabbi Pinchos J. Hecht, Fuchs Bet Sefer Mizrachi, University Heights, Ohio.

"An important tenet of Judaism is its engagement with the world. One of the things we find strength in is, we're not on the top of a mountain contemplating.
Judaism speaks to the holiness of everyday life. We are praying and devoting ourselves to principles that ask us to perfect creation. We have a long way to go."
David M. Hutt, Shaarey Tikvah Congregation, Beachwood, Ohio.

Source: Karen R. Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer

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