Chancellor's Parashah Commentary
Rosh Hashanah 5762
Ismar Schorsch is the chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary.
September 17, 2001 When the high priest in the days of the Temple emerged from the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, he intoned a special prayer for those inhabitants of ancient Israel who lived at heightened risk from natural catastrophes, that "their homes might not become their graves." Do these words not anticipate as well the nature of terrorism which turns our homeland unexpectedly into a mass graveyard?
As we Americans absorb the nightmare of our vulnerability, the scope of our losses and the infinite depravity of our fellow humans, we feel intuitively and fervently the sentiments of the high priest. May our homes and workplaces, our national symbols and public spaces, our means of travel and sanctuaries of learning not be turned into an inferno by the inhuman passions of hatred and resentment.
We unite in our respective houses of worship to take comfort in the voices and hugs of friends and neighbors. At the edge of the abyss and in the face of untold grief, we seek refuge in the eternal presence of God, the source of our strength. We acknowledge again our need for God's sustaining guidance in realizing our human potential, and leave ennobled by the vision of a human family governed by the inviolable sanctity of every individual. Above all, we are strengthened by the unique power and beauty of the political experiment called these United States.
May the year to come bless us with healing and hope.