Rabbi Stacy Sokol’s holiday message


Rosh Hashana is the Birthday of The World. It is a time when we celebrate creation, a time when we give gratitude to God, asking for forgiveness.

It is said on Rosh Hashana that with repentance, prayer, and charity, the Jewish people will be given another year of life. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippor, and the days which link each holiday together are known as the Days of Repentance.

On Yom Kippor, everyone’s fate and the fate of the Jewish people are decided.

On Rosh Hashana, we connect to our past with readings from The Hebrew Bible; which recount the stories of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Yishmael, Isaac, Hanah, and Rachel. It is through these biblical, prophetic texts, as well as prayers — penitential, supplicatory, ancient piyuttim,kinnot poetry from the time of the Temple — and the loud and powerful blasts of the shofar —the ram’s horn — that we reconnect to our history, tradition, and belief in God. It is through our services, meditation and supplication, that we find new faith and hope each year.

We pray this New Year that life will only get better and that God will raise us up from the pit of despair.

This New Year, we celebrate 5,784 years since creation. The New Year 5,784 is very unique because the Hebrew Gematria, an alphanumeric code of assigning a numerical value to word(s) or phrase(s) based on it’s letters, for the Jewish New Year, 5,784 foreshadows a positive future for the upcoming New Year for all people.

The numbers 5784 spell out the Hebrew word eshpot, which means rubbish. This is referenced in Psalm 113, “God lifts the poor out of the dust, and raises the needy from the rubbish heap, from illness, disease and sorrow.”

This passage using Hebrew Gematria gives us hope that God will lift us up to a better place in the year to come.

On behalf of Congregation B’nai Israel, 91 N. Bayview Ave in Freeport, I would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and 578r. May our outlook on life be elevated as we battle through this pandemic together. May God bring health, happiness, healing, peace and salvation to everyone and to the world.

L’Shana Tova Tikateivu.

May we all have a Happy New Year and be inscribed in the Book of Life.

— Rabbi Stacy Sokol