US President Barack Obama on Sunday extended his eighth and final Rosh Hashanah greeting, wishing Jews in the US, Israel and across the world “another sweet year full of hope, health and happiness.”
In a video posted on the eve of the holiday in the US and just hours before it started in Israel, the president said that the Jewish New Year was an “opportunity to start over, as well as an obligation to look back with humility.”
Obama spoke of the Days of Awe which begin on Rosh Hashanah and end at the close of Yom Kippur next week wherein Jews ask for forgiveness, compassion and mercy from God, their families and friends, adding that it was also a time “to ask of ourselves something only we can control: the strength to do better. To be better. To make the world we live in a kinder, more peaceful place. To hear in the sacred shofar blast a call from within to change.”
In a preamble that accompanied the video, the White House said this Rosh Hashanah comes at a particularly “difficult time for many across the globe as we mourn the loss of former Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres,” who Obama called “an inspiring force for peace.”
“For me personally, my last Rosh Hashanah in the White House is a chance to reflect on the great privilege I’ve had as president to work closely with the Jewish community. To speak at synagogues here in the United States and abroad. To place a private prayer in the ancient cracks of the Kotel. To retell the timeless story of the Exodus at our annual White House Seders. And to walk through Buchenwald with Elie Wiesel, meet with young Israelis in Jerusalem, and present the Medal of Freedom to Shimon Peres,” said Obama in the video.
“While we have accomplished much together in the last seven and a half years, much work remains – as it always does. But that’s what the Jewish New Year reminds us: that our job is never done. It’s an honor for my family to wish yours. Shana Tova!”