Last night began the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, (Head of the Year or New Year). In the Jewish calendar, which is based on a lunar year, it is the year 5773. The New Year is a time for reflection, for looking back at the prior year and thinking about what a person could have done better. How he/she could have lived a better, more Holy, charitable life. Jews believe the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), people have the opportunity to plead with G-D to inscribe them in the “book of life” for a happy, healthy and prosperous coming year. In Judaism, although G-D does carry out acts of violence such as destroying the earth with a flood, he is also “slow to anger” and “forgiving”. He will listen to all those who are willing to repent, (Nineveh, in Jonah and the Whale) and those who try to be better human beings in deeds, not just words. Yom Kippur, is associated with a twenty-four hour fast in which every observant Jew will be taking this last of the ten days and praying, reflecting and begging for G-D to be merciful. So to everyone celebrating the High Holidays, Shana Tova. And to all those not celebrating the holidays, understand that Judaism is truly a religion of peace. Jews are passive people and it has cost them dearly throughout history. It’s the reason we have so often been displaced from our homeland and why we were such easy targets in nazi Germany. It’s also the reason Israel is so concerned with safety, because even the “wimpy kid” can one day stand up and say, “Never Again”. And might I suggest to all the Jew haters out there, we are no different from you. People should not judge other groups until they have had some contact with individuals from that group. Every race, religion, color and creed have good people and bad people. Prejudice against any particular group is simply ignorant and misguided. In my travels I have met many wonderful people and that is the only way you can truly judge a person. Most importantly, we are taught not to hate anyone based on religion or color of their skin. It’s forbidden by G-D. Judaism also preaches the importance of education. I had no options other than attending college and graduate school. Our religion tells us it is honorable to be doctors, lawyers and businessmen and people confuse that with a love of money. It’s no secret that on average, more educated people make more money. And by the way, doesn’t everyone love money? But Judaism also preaches this world is a gift and we should enjoy it. Judaism is not a death oriented religion, it’s a life oriented religion. We don’t talk about a better place until near the end. This world, this life, is a gift afforded us by G-D. I for one always respected that philosophy. We love our wives and children; family is everything. So to all, not celebrating, take this opportunity to reach out to neighbors and strangers; to be better human beings. Because ultimately, love, understanding and tolerance will make this world a better place to live.