A Zisse Yohr alleman, Shana Tova, Happy New Year to all


On the occasion of Rosh Hasahana we asked one of our veteran committee members, Diana Neslen, to tell us what the new year means to her

Here are her reflections.


In spite of the ritual wishes for sweetness, symbolised by the apple and honey, the Jewish New Year, unlike the secular New Year,  is a solemn occasion, a time to look backwards at the past to reflect on personal actions in order to make amends  and to strengthen  commitment to change.

This is both a personal and a communal journey. In this light we in the JVL community cannot but, look back at this past year and consider its impact on ourselves and on our future mission.  The impact of the Corona virus crisis has been so overwhelming that we may one day talk of pre and post covid, as other generations once talked of pre and post war.  The pandemic has changed all our lives inexorably and will influence whatever direction we take in the future. However it has shown that no one is immune from the ravages, even as it brutally exposes inequality.

We need to recognise that we have made great strides as an organisation in committing ourselves with integrity towards a different, more equal and more socially and economically just world.  We worked tirelessly to put a party committed to this objective in power. In the face of continuous assault we have addressed the issue of antisemitism, recognising that allegations of antisemitism loses their force if used unjustly for political ends. However we have to be honest with ourselves.  Our objectives have not been met. But the arguments we have made have not been countered and in fact have shown themselves to be even more essential as time passes and we face ever greater challenge.

That is why at this New Year we need not only to reflect but to recognise that the year ahead will not be easy.  There seems as yet to be no safe exit from the pandemic; it seems inevitable that many will be condemned to poverty in a world where some of the most powerful have shown themselves deaf to need.  The climate emergency is ever more pressing and needs urgent attention; racism is likely to increase as those in power have no answers to the problems confronting them, so choose to look for scapegoats; and the situation in Palestine/Israel becomes ever more unbearable for the Palestinians oppressed by the Israelis, dismissed by the Americans and deserted by  a growing number of Arab states.  We cannot close our eyes to the plight of the Palestinians who need above all friends who will amplify their voices.

We have many tasks ahead.  There is no guarantee we can be successful in our mission, but if the New Year means anything it must mean strengthening our commitment to justice, to equality, to challenging oppression wherever we find it. The lesson of this year is that this is best done, not by ring fencing our concerns and issues, but by finding common cause with others who share our perspectives.

Each year Jews thank God for surviving to welcome the year.  We hope that we will be inscribed in the book of life for another year.  But this inscription comes with demands that we as socialists and as human beings  resolve to work for a better world however long it takes.

A Zisse Yohr alleman, Shana Tova, Happy New Year to all.