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Rosh Hashanah: 18 Words

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, celebrated this year from sunset on October 2nd to the evening of October 4th.  The term literally means, “head of the year,” but is celebrated over the first two days of Tishri, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.  Why the seventh month?  It marks the completion of Yahweh’s creation and considered by many Jews as a new year for people, animals, and contracts.  


According to The Huffington Post, “The American Jewish World Service, a faith-based human rights organization, is welcoming in the New Year with a campaign to inspire hope.”  They are asking Jewish world leaders, and even those outside their community, to offer 18 words or less that will foster positive and productive change over the new year."


The Huffington Post explains why the number 18, “Each wish was limited to 18 words. Eighteen has long been a sacred and cherished number in the Jewish tradition. Through gematria, a system that assigns a numerical value to letters in Hebrew, the number 18 is linked to the Hebrew word “chai,” which means life. As a result, the number is associated with blessings and celebration. Some people give monetary gifts in multiples of 18, with the intention of blessing the recipient with a good life.”


Here are some examples…


“At a time of great divisiveness in our country, we need moral courage.” 

-Rabbi David Ellenson


“I hope that we rededicate ourselves to helping the less fortunate, and shine light on darkness.” 

-Rep. Eliot Engel, NY


“The battle to end inequality and injustice is timeless.” 

-Sir Michael Mortiz, Sequoia Capital 


“Remember: Native, African, Mexican, European, Asian, LGBTQ, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist, Refugee, Americans.  Remember: vote, vote, vote.” 

-Mandy Patinkin


After reading these, and others like them, I was inspired to come up with my own 18 words of hope for the upcoming Jewish year. 


“World, breath deeply the peace of God - offering grace, love and hope to those oppressed, marginalized, and ostracized.” 

-Dr. R. Mitch Randall

What will your 18 words be for this year?

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