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Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah – The Optimistic Holiday

Celebration of the Jewish New Year 5779 at the European Parliament

Members of the European Parliament,

Your excellencies,

Thank you for joining us today!

Vice President Maired McGinnes, thank you for welcoming the celebration for the Jewish New Year here in the house were all the nations of Europe are represented.

Dear friends,

On this holiday we gather with our family and friends. We join our communities and wish each other a Happy and Sweet New Year, May you be inscribed in the book of Life.

Children await eagerly the sweet tradition to deep an Apple in Honey and the delicious Honey cake made at home with so much love.

We enter a New Year, turning to a fresh and blank page where we hope to write on it the best stories about ourselves yet to be told.

On Rosh Hashanah The Rabbi in our synagogue before the sounding of the Shofar, would announce with his strong and loud voice “This will be the best year ever!”. He would say that, every single year, right before a financial crisis, regional wars or other disasters. For the Rabbi every year promised to be the best.

For 2 millennia Jewish communities across Europe have celebrated Rosh Hashanah and prayed and hoped that the story told tomorrow will be better than the one of yesterday.

But can we be that optimistic and continue to believe in humans?

Rosh Hashanah unlike other Jewish holidays is not commemorative, it has no memory, no past, no story, no drama. It reminds us that we are part of a whole. We celebrate Adam and Eve and their task to bring goodness to this world in their divine image and we pray to God and wish well to all living creatures. We celebrate nature and we remind our selves of our responsibly to each other and to our world.

Try to think for a moment, I am sure you all have in your minds someone who believed in you even when you yourself thought that that challenge was too big.

It was a teacher, a parent or a friend, the person who believed that you have what it takes and gave you the strength to go on.

Many years later even when that person is long gone from your life, when facing a new trial, you go back to the feeling that someone believed in you and you find new strength.

Rosh Hashanah, when we recall the divine image in every single Human being, is a wake-up call that reminds you that you have what it takes, you are a divine spark, a miracle of life and you can be the best version of yourself and a blessing to the people around you.

But what is that divine image that we talk about all too often?

From God’s eye view, every human is conceptualized with his or her potential already developed, as Chasidic philosophy explains. The divinity of each one of us includes all that we can be! The incredible things we can achieve! and all the knowledge we are capable of acquiring! Not just the circumstantial state we find ourselves in the here and now.

In fact the very trials and obstacles that you face are the gateway to your growth and through them you can bring to light that divine spark and reach your potential.

You can be the one who empowers others, go on and tell those who are important to you that you believe in them. It will be one of the greatest gifts you will ever be able to grant others. Each time you see a human face no matter in which side of the fence he or she is standing, you are looking at divinity.

The Chasidim used to say that the true love of God is to love your fellow.

Before we venture in this new beginning, take a moment to ask: What is the direction your life is taking? How do you choose to live life? Do you have a dream to realize? We revisit our place in the collective, what can you do more for your loved ones and your community? Do you have in mind an idea that can improve the human and social experience? How a better society should look like in your opinion?

Rosh Hashana is a human oriented and optimistic holiday which confronts us and our future. The future ahead of you can look great and it is up to you alone. If you want to, it can become a reality.

Shanah Tovah!

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