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An important year ahead

I am writing these lines as the melodies and words of the prayers of Yamim Noraim (High Holy Days) confront our conscience with the possibility of improving our future through the self-reflection that is still resonating in our heads, bodies, and souls.


It is so powerful to have the ability to change our lives! How meaningful that we can hold in our own hands the tools to improve our environment, help ourselves, and those around us to have a better coexistence!


There was an Argentinian humorist who created, among other things, a comic strip called Mafalda. I do not think it has been published in the U.S. It is the story of a girl of 8 to 10 years of age who with a group of friends had a strong

commitment to the social realities of Argentina and the world, as well as knowledge of political situations worldwide. In each comic strip, they commented and criticized different situations they felt were unfair or in need of change. Sometimes a sarcastic sense was added, while other times, an innocent one.


I recall one in which one of her friends, along with the protagonist, reflected on the New Year. They said it is like a blank notebook when each person can start writing something new and better than what they wrote the previous year. The final response from her friend said it was a pity that many people had their elbow too close to the inkwell and they would probably end up blotting the paper. (The comic was from a time when pens were filled from a bottle called an inkwell.)


We have a very important year ahead of us. As always, it is filled with decisions that can change the course of many lives. This is happening not only in the U.S, but also in Argentina (my home country) and Israel, among others around the world.


Of the three I mentioned, the one that concerns me the most personally is Israel. Not only because my mother and sister with their families live there but also because we are going through a political and religious delicate moment. The

freedoms and definitions of who is and who is not Jewish may be at stake. There is nothing more and nothing less.


It is said that just as Jews throughout the diaspora need Israel, Israel also needs each one of us who continues to lead our Jewish lives in the diaspora. And I believe that this is one of those moments when it is essential that we be

close in some way and support our home in the Middle East.


For me, this is a year I would like to dedicate to getting closer to Eretz Yisrael. A year where every encounter, every activity, every teaching, and every lesson aim at a close tie to our history, culture, and traditions. It is exactly what I set out

to do when I decided to become a Cantor and later a Rabbi.


I hope that 5784 will have a strong emphasis on Israel and I invite you to join me and support us on this path. This would include strong proposals for Yom Ha'atzmaut, the celebration of Israel’s independence, Yom Hashoah, Yom Hazikoran (Israel’s Memorial Day), hopefully in collaboration with the Jewish Federation of the Mohawk Valley and all of those who wish to join.


My first proposal is a Book Club which will always be related to the topics we want to address, not necessarily religious ones. Reading, discussing and studying the suggested book as a group and focusing on Jewish themes or Israeli authors who will bring us closer to that inner flame that I would like to keep alive and

even more so, to kindle.


As the first option, I suggest meeting on Tuesdays at 7:00PM. We will meet at the homes of the Reading and Study Group in a rotating fashion sharing refreshments. We will vote among a few titles that are suggested and begin reading, analyzing, and discussing the one we have chosen together.


Those of you who may be interested, I invite you to e-mail me and make it a

reality. Of course, this is open to the entire Utica community and surrounding areas.


Now that the High Holidays have passed, the Days of Awe, I wish us a year of building together. May we come together and not divide ourselves. We need this to be done. A year in which the most important thing is not to impose our way of thinking, even though we believe it to be the most accurate and just, but to study and learn together, and especially with those with whom we disagree in order to accept differences and coexist while building a better world.


May we avoid spilling the ink from our inkwells onto our notebooks so that what we write may be transferable to everyone around us. As always, Tikun Olam.


Chag Sukkot Sameach v'Chodesh Tov!!


Let’s have a Happy and Joyful Sukkot and a good month for all of us.


Rabbi Gustavo Geier

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