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I’m disappointed by Rabbi Stern’s pessimism.

There’s no question that there is much to be dismayed about in the year that is drawing to a close, and I can’t dispute the prevailing mood of anxiety and concern. Which is why Rosh Hashanah is all the more important.

It promises a new beginning and, more than that, it promises real change–the possibility of heading down a new path. Midterm elections are coming up in a few months, and at this moment senators are debating a proposal that could reassert limits over presidential power. Germany just pledged a large contingent of U.N. peacekeeping troops for Lebanon, and the United States has named a special envoy to deal with Sudan.

It’s possible that all of this may come to naught, but that possibility is a certainty when we give in to despair and–worse–complacency. Rosh Hashanah isn’t about rosy-eyed optimism, and it certainly acknowledges the real difficulty in implementing lasting change–personally or internationally–but it does affirm that such change is possible. It’s a lesson we would do especially well to take to heart after a trying year.

A year of peace and blessing for us all.

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