‘Health, peace, prosperity’: From Biden to Zelensky, leaders wish Jews happy New Year

Rosh Hashanah message from Ukraine’s president (briefly) features Hebrew greeting, while Indian PM posts entire message in the language

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a joint news conference with Greece's president (not seen) following their meeting at the Mariinskiy palace in Kyiv on November 3, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Genya SAVILOV / AFP)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a joint news conference with Greece's president (not seen) following their meeting at the Mariinskiy palace in Kyiv on November 3, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Genya SAVILOV / AFP)

Leaders from around the world offered New Year’s greetings to the Jewish people Friday night as the latter celebrated Rosh Hashanah.

In a missive, US President Joe Biden said, “During this spiritual time of reflection and atonement, we are also uplifted by the hope a new year brings” and “are reminded that it is never too late to change and begin anew. Our actions have the power to shift the balance of our fate, our nation, and our world.”

He added: “I’ve always believed that the message of Rosh Hashanah is universal. As Americans, the power lies within each of us to make our country more free and fair, to transform the story of our time, and to heal the soul of our nation.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wished a good year to Jews in Britain and around the world, saying that “British Jews play an integral part in the success of this nation, and I am delighted the vibrant and diverse Jewish faith continues to thrive across the country.”

Referencing the fight against hate as well as legislation in the works to ban boycotts of Israel, Sunak added: “I will always stand with you. You can count on me to keep you safe, to champion the ban on boycotts, divestments and sanctions, and fight antisemitism in any form.”

“Chag Sameach!” declared Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Shana Tova U’metuka! To Jewish communities across the country: As you celebrate Rosh Hashanah with prayer, the sounds of the shofar, traditional meals, and sweet treats, I’m wishing you a happy New Year.”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, tweeted, in English, “Shanah Tovah to all Jewish communities in Ukraine and across the world celebrating #RoshHashanah today!

“Let the new year bring a fresh start and hope for a brighter future,” he said. “May it provide the strength for good to triumph over evil and peace to be restored.”

Zelensky signed off with “Shana Tova” written in Hebrew. Curiously, the tweet was edited soon after, and the correctly spelled Hebrew sign-off deleted. A similar edit was made soon after to Zelensky’s Rosh Hashanah tweet in Ukrainian, where the original tweet had a letter missing from the Hebrew, so it may be that the president’s office decided it might be safer to do without Hebrew altogether.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi went further, issuing his tweet entirely in Hebrew, offering “warm wishes on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah to my friend [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, to the people of Israel and to all Jews around the world. May the new year bring health, peace and prosperity to all lives.”

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “Different religious beliefs, love and tolerance are enriching elements of our society,” He wished that the new year would bring peace and well-being to all Jewish people.

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