A broadcast by Rabbi Raymond Apple on the Jewish Radio Hour (Australia) in 1977 to mark Rosh HaShanah. The broadcast text subsequently appeared in the booklet, Days of Awe: High Holyday Broadcasts from the Great Synagogue, Sydney, published by the Great Synagogue, Rosh HaShanah, 1979.
It is with a very real sense of pleasure that I greet listeners to the Jewish Radio Hour on the threshold of the year 5738.
Two important Jewish anniversaries will occur in the year which commences on Monday evening — the 35th anniversary of the revolt of the Warsaw Ghetto, symbolic of the Holocaust and its long night of darkness; and the 30th anniversary of the State of Israel, which marks the coming of the dawn and the beginning of the redemption.
Both the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel have altered world Jewry beyond recognition. In different ways, both have seen to it that once small and isolated communities like Australian Jewry have grown and taken on new significance. No longer can we say that Australia and similar lands are almost irrelevant to Judaism and the Jewish destiny.
Today we know, or ought to know, that the responsibility of keeping Judaism alive and well, of affording Israel solid backing, and of watching over the welfare of our people in lands of persecution, all devolve upon us. Im ein ani li mi li — if we do not shoulder our share of responsibility, is there any guarantee that anyone else will?
Some members of our communities, like the Biblical Jonah, think they can hide from this imperative duty. Some for instance become Jewish drop-outs, let their Jewish identity lapse, and leave it to others to ensure that Judaism survives.
(Thus, of dozens — maybe hundreds — of Jewish academics at Australian universities, few call themselves Jews and fewer still are involved with the problems of their people.)
Some become unashamed materialists interested only in accumulating status symbols. Some are gastronomic Jews, interested in Jewish cuisine but never (Chas Veshalom!) in Jewish culture. Some enjoy a Yiddish joke, but Yiddish literature or Yiddishkeit — that’s another matter.
Some play cards in Jewish company (maybe on Friday nights…) and that is the extent of their Jewish commitment. Some are cemetery Jews, concerned to be buried in Jewish graves, but with no interest in living as Jews in Jewish homes…
Yet no matter how weak a Jew’s attachment to his Judaism, we write nobody off. Each is a brother. None is without his pintele Yid. The question, however, is how to arouse that which is dormant in his soul, how to bring him near when he is afar.
A great deal depends on our leaders. But even more depends on the ordinary Jew.
First, he must make a personal effort to raise his own Jewish standards. No-one is beyond improvement.
Then, he has to use every opportunity of showing his fellow Jew how satisfying it is to live a Jewish life — and how crucially our community needs every one of us.
Every one of us must consider himself as the tenth man who makes Minyan!
Shanah Tovah! A happy and healthy New Year to you all!