Finding hope in Israel: Rosh HaShanah sermon 5775 / 2014
This sermon was delivered on the first day of Rosh haShanah, 5775 (2014), at the United Synagogue of Hoboken, New Jersey. When Naftali Hertz Imber opened up the newspaper, he could not believe what he was reading. As he sat there that day in 1878, in the city of Iasi, in Romania, he saw a small item in a Jewish newspaper that said that for the first time in hundreds of years, there were to be Jewish farmers farming the land of Israel. Imber, a Jewish poet in his early 20’s, had many reasons to be surprised by this news. The Jewish communities that he knew, in Eastern Europe, were mostly poor - some were urban, some were rural, but virtually none of the Jews were farming the land, as Jews were generally not permitted to own land. No matter how many years or decades or centuries their families had dwelled in an Eastern European village or region, they were still regarded as foreigners, people who really belonged somewhere else, living on land that belonged to others.