We Are Most Heartily Sorry, Not That We Care Anymore

Our Father, we have sinned against you and against our own selves, not least by despising our fellow man.

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Forgive us, for we have sinned: Adam and Eve are banished from Eden. Michelangelo fresco at the Sistine Chapel, 1508-1512.
Forgive us, for we have sinned: Adam and Eve are banished from Eden. Michelangelo fresco at the Sistine Chapel, 1508-1512.Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Our Father, please forgive us. We have sinned before Thee.

Indeed, we've been bad. Another year has passed, another Yom Kippur is upon us, and our pockets – overflowing with transgressions – are as encumbered as ever, ready for the Tashlikh. And while it's damn near impossible to recount all of our misdeeds, to catalog all our wrongdoings one by one, here are some of the greatest errors of judgment we are most sorry for. Or at least should be.

Father, we spent the majority of this past year fighting amongst ourselves, as if you never taught us to "Love thy neighbor". Whether it's a TV show pitting Sephardim against Ashkenazim in a battle for Jewish hegemony, or the ultra-Orthodox sparring with Finance Minister Yair Lapid, or Lapid telling disappointed voters they're like "schnauzers abandoned in the rain", or other politicians comparing each other to Hitler, we haven’t exactly lived up to that old verse from Leviticus.

Father, this past year we've been less than inclusive. Some say we've been downright racist.

New shekel bills entering circulation in 2014 feature four prominent Ashkenazi poets, all born in Eastern Europe. Just last week we discovered Israel intends to shunt Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to Uganda, in possible violation of UN treaties. Earlier this year we learned that the popular amusement park Superland preferred to host Arab and Jewish kids on different days. The press reports a 70% increase in the number of Ethiopian-born teens needing help after encountering racism in their daily lives, an often acknowledged-yet-ignored reality that became even more pronounced following a televised rant by a Big Brother contestant against a fellow Ethiopian contender, who later went on to win the season.

Or are two of Israel's most prominent rabbis (the new Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, David Lau, and the brother of the new Sepharadi Chief Rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, referring to black people as "kushim", a pejorative term.

Or rabid soccer fans still attacking Arab-Israelis, who still largely can't land a decent job.

Lord, forgive us, for we have so much hate in our hearts sometimes that it is impossible to remember every single time it shows.

Father, this reminds us: we've taken your name in vain many, many times. Some for the usual reasons - faking astonishment, expressing outrage, OMG this and OMFG that – but often we've used your name for selfish reasons, to promote ourselves and our goals pretending (perhaps mostly to ourselves) that our plans have divine sponsorship. For instance there's the time when Rabbi Moti Alon, after being convicted of two counts of sexual assault against a minor, still claimed to be doing your work. Or when price-tag vandals attacked Arabs in or around Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh this past summer, defacing tombs and monasteries, vandalizing cars and spraying racist graffiti on walls, all in your name. Or when, during this holiday, we'll convince ourselves we've been absolved.

Father, our biggest sin of all is that we have stopped caring.

We've allowed ourselves to become the poorest country in the OECD. We have lost the very essence of solidarity that brought us together as a people and enabled us to build a great nation in this harsh desert land. We have created an unequal, unjust society where business tycoons can shrug off mammoth debt while regular families struggle to break even. We have become a state where people immolate themselves in desperation (OK, that was last year) and where every third child is poor.

We let the military occupation of the West Bank go on, with its daily banalities of oppression and muted violence, because we stopped caring.

We let our elected officials lie to our faces – and boy, have they lied to us this year - because we have become indifferent. We have lost faith in politics, in chance, in democracy itself perhaps, because we just stopped caring. And the truth is we stopped caring a long time ago.

Lord, we ask you not to forgive us these sins, for that would be presumptuous, but we ask of you to understand them. We may be your Chosen People, but sometimes, we admit to ourselves behind closed doors, we don't feel Chosen at all. This past year was not an easy one, but even through the darkness we've managed – we swear – to make some progress, to demand more accountability from our elected officials, to flex a little of those old democracy muscles, to build new things. We are not pure, yet, and in their hearts, as you well know, all men are sinners. But most of us honestly try to be good, even if often times we fail.

Next year, You willing, we'll do better. Amen.

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