September 15th to 17th, 2023
1st to 2nd of Tishrei 5784
Rabbi David Laor
Israel’s social and economic challenges and impact on its democracy ahead of Rosh Hashanah 5784 festivities
This year’s Rosh Hashanah coincides with a crucial period in Israel’s history, marked by a series of social and economic challenges that threaten to affect the stability of democracy in the Holy Land. Rosh Hashanah is a time of reflection and spiritual renewal and provides an opportunity to assess the current situation and consider the implications that economic and social problems may have on Israel’s democratic system. Since its creation in 1948, Eretz Yisrael is a nation built on solid foundations of democracy and pluralism, on equal rights, a nation that has welcomed thousands of Olim with open arms – immigrants from all over the world, traditions, skin colors, sexual preferences , for everything without distinction. Israel has been an example to the nations, a melting pot of disparate rhythms and cultures. We’ve always been very proud of that. However, Israel has been experiencing internal difficulties, related to social inequality and the economy. The gap between rich and poor, between religious and secular, between traditionalists and liberals has increased significantly, affecting social cohesion and increasing tensions between different sectors of the population.
The impact of these economic and social challenges on Israeli democracy is a concern that should not be taken lightly. A robust democracy is based on the active participation of ALL its citizens, on equal opportunities and on trust in its governmental institutions, mainly in the defense forces, crucial for Israel’s existence, as well as in the cultural, social and religious areas. The economy is faltering, inequality has increased, confidence in the system has eroded, massive political polarization has been created, and citizen participation has declined, even in sectors unimaginable in the past! As they are: army reservists and pilots, doctors specializing in health services, large high-tech companies and Start-Ups, who transferred their financial investments abroad, these tensions affected the tranquility of the multifaceted Israeli society and generated serious conflicts that turned into international news.
The situation is very worrying and this has opened the doors for political leaders with authoritarian ideas who propose solutions and bills that seem to be a quick solution to the problems, but, on the contrary, have undermined the fundamental democratic values of the nation. Even new projects were created, which contemplated the separation of the country into two sections: Medinat Israel with the city of Tel Aviv as capital and Medinat Yehuda with capital in Jerusalem. Who would have guessed? When would such absurd proposals have even been thought of?
It is in this context that Rosh Hashanah 5784 takes on such important significance for all Jews around the world. Rosh Hashanah is also Yom HaDin, the day of judgment. In this period of reflection and renewal, let us make a personal and community prayer to heaven and, on the other hand, an appeal to the Land of Israel. This day of Yom HaDin must be the time to end all this madness! It is essential that Israeli leaders and society at large consider not only the immediate challenges, but also the longer-term implications of decisions made in response to those challenges. Israel’s stability depends on the honest desire of all its inhabitants to resolve sharp social differences, to find solutions based on consensus and cooperation, to urgently resolve economic problems and to recover our beloved Tzion.
How about us? All Jews of the Diaspora, we must say a special prayer, deep and vehement, that the Creator of the Universe, the Holy Blessed One, pour out his blessings, answer our supplications and renew SHALOM in Medinat Israel – צמיחת ראשית גאולתנו – which marks the beginning of our long awaited redemption.
Leshana Tova Tikatevu! Shalom leTzion ulechol yoshveiha.
May they be recorded for a good year 5784, may there be SHALOM in Tzion and for all its inhabitants.
Rabbi David Laor
Comunidad Bnei Israel
San José, Costa Rica