Hope as we enter the New Year

By Karen Marsden Sank, Chair SAZF Cape Council

The month of Elul is traditionally one of introspection with a view to renewal. No less so this year, our second living with the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic and the sense of hopelessness it has brought.

Consider that we have just witnessed the closing of the unprecedented 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, held a year later than planned in the hope that the pandemic may have abated. The pandemic sadly did not fade away, but the Games gave us some reason to break free from blanket despair.

To begin, the International Olympic Committee finally publicly acknowledged the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. Then, in true fashion, the current Team Israel displayed hope in the face of adversity, earning a record four medals, two of which were gold. To hear Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah, proudly broadcast to the world, and watch the country’s flag flying high, felt like hope had sprung eternal.

As we approach Rosh Hashanah 5782 there is cause for optimism. Some encouraging glimmers of hope have helped many in the Cape Town Jewish community emerge from a deep place of despondency. Significantly, after many months of enduring an almost outright ban on travel to and from Israel, at the time of writing there has been a change in policy and many of us can now (with conditions) travel there and back again. We never gave up the hope that this day would come, just as we held onto hope for 2000 years that we would return, to be a free nation in our own homeland.

The evocative words of the poem ‘Tikvatenu’ written in the 19th century by Naphtali Herz Imber (he was inspired by the founding of Petah Tikvah in 1878), part of which became the iconic words of Israel’s national anthem, HaTikvah, speak to the necessity of keeping hope alive in any event.

There is no better time than the month of Elul, as we approach Rosh Hashanah and then enter the season of high holidays, to embrace the opportunity to try again, buoyed by hope for a fresh perspective or the chance to perform more meaningful deeds. Living with, and not giving up, hope entails having faith in the process.

וניתוקת הדבא אל דוע
Our hope is not yet lost
הקותמו הבוט הנש

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• Published in the PDF edition of the September 2021 issue – Get the PDF here.

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