WHEN we all gathered in shule a year ago, the sound of the shofar signalling our hopes for the year to come, we couldn’t have imagined what a rollercoaster 5780 would turn out to be.
We were soon shocked as images of horrid antisemitic bullying from our tolerant, multicultural country made headlines around the world, and then heartbroken as Australia’s summer bushfires consumed thousands of hectares of bushland, wiping out wildlife, homes, livelihoods and lives.
In early February, The AJN family lost a treasured friend and colleague, and the community lost a tireless supporter and advocate with the passing of Joshua Levi.
Then in March, the coronavirus pandemic arrived and turned our lives and world upside down like nothing before it.
Schools were shut down with learning shifted to online platforms, while synagogues closed their doors as prayer gatherings were banned. Families spent Pesach divided. Our community’s elderly were left isolated and grandparents were denied the naches of spending time with their grandchildren.
Life would return to somewhat of a normality in Sydney – even if COVID-19 restrictions mean only some of us will attend shule these High Holy Days – however, Melbourne remains under a strict lockdown with no services allowed.
But for all 5780’s challenges, there were also silver linings.
President Reuven Rivlin’s visit to Australia was a resounding success and after a long process, it appears Malka Leifer may finally be brought back to Australia for trial.
The challenges of the pandemic led our community to find new ways of connecting and engaging as we came together to help our vulnerable.
On the international front, antisemitic UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was soundly defeated and Israel finally formed a government, even if it took three elections and a significant portion of 5780 to get there. Then, it wasn’t long before that government signed peace deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
It is fitting that the signing of those deals took place this week on the eve of Rosh Hashanah – a time of optimism and renewal.
As we head into 5781, we hope for peace and prosperity and an end to the pandemic, and we wish you all Shana tova u’metuka.