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Rivlin’s Rosh Hashanah message urges soul-searching

WATCH: President says Israel must strengthen internal bonds in order to overcome its challenges

In a Jewish New Year’s message in English, President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday issued a call for soul-searching and for a strengthening of the bonds within Israel, and between Israel and its supporters.

Rivlin has spoken out in anguish several times in recent weeks about acts of Jewish extremism — notably in the wake of the firebombing that killed three members of the Dawabsha family at Duma on July 31, and the previous day’s murder at Jerusalem Pride Parade. He has also complained of a lack of effective Israeli leadership, and said his relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has deteriorated to the extent that they no longer speak regularly.

In the video clip, the president said Israel faces numerous internal and external challenges. He said he was sure the country would overcome them, but that to do so, “we must work internally to strengthen the bonds between us, between the different communities that make up the Israeli people, and between our brothers and sisters, friends and supporters of Israel around the world.”

Rosh Hashanah begins on Sunday evening.

The full text of his message:

Dear friends around the world,

As we approach the High Holidays, on behalf of all the people in Israel, I send you my best wishes for a sweet new year.

We know that as we celebrate the New Year, it is also a time for soul searching and prayer. Tradition teaches that all mankind pass before God, and are prescribed for a good or bad year. Then, on Yom Kippur, the holiest of days, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem and offer three prayers. First for himself and his family. Second for his tribe, and only then did he pray for all the people. It seems strange – even wrong – for the High Priest to begin by praying for himself before praying for others. The Sages answer that in order to truly represent the whole people, in order to truly place the prayers of the nation before God, the High Priest must first offer his own prayers. Because only when we are sure of our own path can we hope to appreciate the needs, and aspirations of others.

Israel faces many challenges both internally and externally; social challenges, economic challenges, and of course security challenges. Challenges which we can and will overcome – as we have done many times before. To do so however, we must work internally to strengthen the bonds between us, between the different communities that make up the Israeli people, and between our brothers and sisters, friends and supporters of Israel around the world.

Just as the High Priest did, I hope that we all may greet the New Year, 5776, sure of our own path, as individuals, as people, and as a nation.

May we all be written in the Book of Life, for a happy, healthy and sweet year.

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