As we approach the High Holidays this year, many of us will engage in cheshbon hanefesh—taking account of our actions over the past year. As individuals dedicated to bringing about change and building a better future for our own country and for Israel, we are continually striving to fully realize our own power, to find our own voice and to live in accordance with our values. Thankfully, Judaism gives us this unique opportunity to process, to repent, to renew our energies and to steel our resolve in commiting to the important work that lies ahead.
As an organization, J Street is undertaking our own cheshbon hanefesh—reflecting on the record of our movement this past year and on our goals for the coming year. We protested the Israeli government’s demolitions of Palestinian villages; we spoke out about the nation-state law, which erodes israel’s foundation as a tolerant, democratic and pluralistic state; we fought for humanitarian aid to the most disenfranchised Palestinian communities; and—here at home—we opposed President Trump’s cruel immigration policies.
Today, we are fighting for important victories in the midterm elections that will enable us to build a bulwark against the administration’s most reckless inclinations going forward.
We are keenly aware of the work that lies ahead and of the ways in which we must grow and improve in order to achieve it.
I’m honored to share with you three powerful reflections on the core concepts that define the High Holy Days—the ideas of cheshbon hanefesh, teshuva (repentance) and b’tselem Elohim (made in the image of God). Written by thoughtful and dedicated leaders in our pro-Israel, pro-peace movement, these short pieces explore how these Jewish concepts inform and reinforce our work.
I hope that these voices will challenge you—and inspire you to act. With so much at stake, each one of us can and must join in the struggle for peace, tolerance, democracy and a better future for the US, Israel and the world.