This can be used as an introduction to the Zikhronot section of the Rosh HashanahThe Jewish New Year, also considered the Day of Judgment. The period of the High Holidays is a time of introspection and atonement. The holiday is celebrated with the sounding of the shofar, lengthy prayers in synagogue, the eating of apples and honey, and round challah for a sweet and whole year. Tashlikh, casting bread on the water to symbolize the washing away of sins, also takes place on Rosh Hashana. liturgy.
God remembered AbrahamAbraham is the first patriarch and the father of the Jewish people. He is the husband of Sarah and the father of Isaac and Ishmael. God's covenant - that we will be a great people and inherit the land of Israel - begins with Abraham and is marked by his circumcision, the first in Jewish history. His Hebrew name is Avraham. and SarahThe first matriarch, wife of Abraham, and mother of Isaac, whom she birthed at the age of 90. Sarah, in Rabbinic tradition, is considered holy, beautiful, and hospitable. Many prayers, particularly the Amidah (the central silent prayer), refer to God as Magen Avraham – protector of Abraham. Many Jews now add: pokehd or ezrat Sarah – guardian or helper of Sarah. – they were blessed with a son
God reached out to HagarAbraham's concubine and the mother of Ishmael, the patriarch of Islam. In the book of Genesis, when Sarah cannot conceive, she suggests that Abraham takeher servant Hagar as a concubine in order to conceive a child, which she promptly does. Feeling threatened by Hagar and her child, Sarah convinces Abraham to banish them from their home. God saves Hagar and Ishmael from dying in the desert.
– no longer was she abandoned.
God was there for IsaacAbraham and Sarah's much-longed-for son and the second Jewish patriarch. Isaac is nearly sacrificed by his father at God's command (Genesis 22). He is married to Rebecca and is the father of Esau and Jacob. His Hebrew name is Yitzchak.
– saving him from being an unwanted sacrifice.
God protected JacobLit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov.
– through wresting with him, Jacob found his true identity.
God watched over JosephJacob's eldest son by his beloved wife, Rachel. Joseph, the dreamer, was his father's favorite and nearly murdered by his brothers. Sold into slavery, he became viceroy of Egypt where he ultimately saves the Egyptians and also his own family from starvation. His Hebrew name is Yosef/
– thus ensuring his role to save his family and tribe.
God chose MosesThe quintessential Jewish leader who spoke face to face with God, unlike any other prophet, and who freed the people from Egypt, led them through the desert for forty years, and received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. His Hebrew name is Moshe.
– so he could lead his people to liberation and freedom.
God heard HannahHannah is the mother of the prophet Samuel, who, through her prayers, is rewarded a child. She herself is also considered a prophet. Hannah's intense devotional style of prayer becomes the model, in rabbinic Judaism, for prayer in general.
– her fervent prayer for a son was granted.
In instance over instance, God heard our ancestors’ pleas and responded.
We remember and wonder: Does God hear our cries?
We remember and ask: Does God care for us as deeply as our forefathers and foremothers?
We remember and question: Where is God when we struggle, when we are despairing, when we are in need?
But perhaps that is the wrong question.
Perhaps we should rather be asking:
Do we remember God?
Do we remember to show gratitude to God when we are feeling blessed?
Do we remember that we are God’s hands and act justly in this world?
Do we remember to affirm our identity and be proud as Jews?
Do we remember to hear others’ cries for help like God did?
Do we remember to allow God into our lives?
A relationship is a two-way street.
God is waiting and remembering how it was when God had deep relationships with our ancestors.
God remembers how good it felt.
Maybe it is time for us to remember, to reach out, to respond when God calls out to us:
Where are you?
Are we ready to remember and respond, Hineni – Here I am.