Chazak Chazak V’nitchazek


Life is a joumey and we are all travelers. We are in an in-between time now. The old Jewish year, 5774, is ending and a new one—5775—is beginning as we celebrate Rosh Hashanah. We know what happened in the old year, but we do not know what will happen in the new one. We can predict many things, but there are all kinds of unpredictable things on our journey.

When reading the Torah in synagogues there is a custom that happens only five times a year. At the end of reading each of the five books of the Torah, the congregation says the following sentence: “Chazak Chazak V’nitchazek”, which literally means “Be strong, be strong and let us strengthen one another.” This is a wonderful phrase for us as we begin a new year. The words Chazak! Chazak! are grammatically in the imperative, which makes them a command. We are commanded to be strong. The word “V’nitchazek” is in the future, and it means “and let us strengthen one another.” These words teach that each of us as an individual must be strong, and all of us as a community must strengthen one another in order to endure and succeed in our life journey. Standing as a congregation at the end of a Jewish year, let us look back and say—Chazak, Chazak V’nitchazek. Let us learn from our successes and our mistakes. Yet, looking ahead, let us be strong so that we can build a great future for ourselves, both as individuals and as a community. When the community is strong, it gives strength to the individuals that rnake it up.

My wish to all of us is that we find the strength to deal with all that comes our way in the coming year, and that we can continue to build the best community here at Temple Sinai that serves all of its members.

I wish you a Shanah Tovah, a year of happiness, health and peace.

Rabbi Jeffrey Bennett