Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur

During Rosh Hashana we celebrate the creation of the world and this is a time to recreate ourselves within our smaller world. It is a time to recognise our faults and repent for our sins.  We then enter the most serious hours of Yom Kippur, where we atone and seek forgiveness.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, OBM, (Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013) shared many ideas and thoughts about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. He said that life is not something we may take for granted and whilst we believe in life after death, it is indeed life, before death, that we truly find human greatness.  

On these special days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we step back from our lives to see what needs changing and what will allow us to begin anew.  We are given the opportunity to do teshuvah (repent), which permits us to change our behaviour of yesterday.  Teshuva, literally meaning return allows us to return to something that we have strayed from or looked away from.  How apt is this for us at WIZO as we take a good look at our work, what we have accomplished in the past year and what direction we are taking going forward with our beloved WIZO?   We need to remind ourselves that without us, our volunteerism, our donations and our commitment to WIZO, our WIZO women and children, and together with all our projects, would never survive nor thrive. 

This epitomises our thought processes when it comes to WIZO.  It is at this time of Rosh Hashana that we must ensure that our WIZO homes, schools and programs in Israel are reinforced thereby ensuring their viable sustainability.

It is evident that with WIZO, life has meaning! It is our calling!  It is something that is close to our hearts, that gives us as volunteers a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves knowing that it brings Israel and its people together. 

So, when we hear the sound of the shofar, let it be a wake-up call to remind us to dig a little deeper into our hearts and our pockets thereby seizing the opportunity of doing our own Tikkun Olam, repairing of the world.  This begins with ensuring the continuation of the Jewish way of life and by this we mean safeguarding the continuity of our WIZO projects like NEVE WIZO, our day care centres and our youth villages.  The blasts of the Shofar also reminds us to renew our faith despite all the challenges we face.  It is a time to show those who need us the most the true feeling of the simple things in life like love, family and community and to show them the possibility of hope and a chance for a future filled with wonderful possibilities.  

Shimon Peres said: “I was given my life, some two and a half billion seconds: I did some reckoning and I decided to do something with those seconds so that I might make a difference.”

Let us follow his words with meaning and ask ourselves the following: “How will we make a difference?” Life is short. We will not be able to achieve everything we set out to achieve.  So the question is: “How shall we use our lives well?”

During these ten days, The Book of Life is open. As we ask Hashem to inscribe our names in the Book of Life, we recognise how much ahead is beyond our control, yet, we recognise our tremendous power to make a difference in both our own lives and in the lives of WIZO.

I, your President and my staff and co-workers, wish you and your families a meaningful Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and may we all be inscribed in the Book of Life for a year of blessings, fulfilment and peace.   

Shana tova u’metukah to you all.

Warm regards


Shelley Trope-Friedman

President WIZO South Africa