We commonly use phrases like “our community,” the “Jewish community,” or “am yisrael – the people of Israel,” when we refer to ourselves collectively.
One name for our community that used to be more common, but is less so today, is “amcha.” “Amcha” literally means “your people.” Whose people? Pretty clearly, “amcha” is referring to G-d, and so “your people” means “G-d’s people.”
This has particular resonance during Rosh Hashanah and the ten days of repentance that lead up to Yom Kippur, as we add in our daily prayers:
בְּסֵֽפֶר חַיִּים בְּרָכָה וְשָׁלוֹם וּפַרְנָסָה טוֹבָה נִזָּכֵר וְנִכָּתֵב לְפָנֶֽיךָ אֲנַֽחְנוּ וְכָל עַמְּ֒ךָ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים וּלְשָׁלוֹם
“May we be remembered and inscribed before You in the Book of Life, blessing, peace and abundant maintenance; we and all Your people, the House of Israel, for a good life and peace.”
Well, G-d, “your people” have had another amazing, challenging, scary but exhilarating year. In the past year, your people have saved lives in Ukraine and Russia; resettled refugees in Israel, Europe and North America; brought new olim to Israel from every corner of the globe, including a renewed aliyah from Ethiopia; strengthened the security of dozens of our communities with more to come; launched mental health supports across the Jewish community; brought relief to victims of trauma; built affinity groups that make our communities more welcoming and inclusive; provided important leadership development to our professionals and lay leaders alike; and much more.
And G-d, your people could not have done it without you, but we also know we can not accomplish anything without each other. Your people have worked together consistently and collaboratively, lifting each other up, learning from each other and teaching each other, making an impact that can only be achieved by collective action.
Finally, G-d, your people come to this New Year 5783 in humility and reflection, preparing to care for the needs of the Jewish people once again in the coming year, in our own communities and around the world.
On behalf of the lay leaders and professional team at the Jewish Federations of North America, we wish you and all your loved ones a happy, healthy and sweet new year. We thank you for all that you are doing for the Jewish people and look forward to working together in 5783!
Julie Platt is Chair of the Board of Trustees of Jewish Federations of North America. Eric Fingerhut is President & CEO of Jewish Federations of North America.