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Message on the Observance of the Jewish High Holy Days

October 03, 1986

The Jewish New Year begins with the High Holy Days, Bosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These are days of judgment, not by man, but by God, the one eternal God who revealed Himself to the People of Israel. For Jews, these are the Days of Awe, a time for reflection and repentance—for rededication to the service of God and to His ethical code. This is symbolized most dramatically by the sounding of the Shofar which according to Maimonides says: "Awake, awake, O sleepers from your sleep; O slumberers; arouse ye from your slumbers; and examine your deeds, return in repentance and remember your Creator."

While Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have special meaning for Jews, they are not special days for Jews alone. At this time of year, all of us should rejoice in the knowledge that ours is a country which has always welcomed Jews and repudiated antisemitism. As George Washington wrote to the Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island in 1790, the American government is one "which gives to bigotry no sanctions, to persecution no assistance."

All Americans can take pride in this, and in our unwavering support for the state of Israel, which was born out of the ashes of the Holocaust and which to this day is a refuge from persecution and a beacon of hope for Jewish people throughout the world. Our deep commitment to Israel's security is one with our commitment to freedom of religion in our own country. Underlying both are the unchanging moral and spiritual values to which Jews and Judaism continue to make an incalculable contribution.

It is therefore a great pleasure for Nancy and me to extend our warmest greetings for the New Year of 5747 to Jews here and throughout the world. May your names be written in the Book of Life, and may the Lord bless you with health and happiness from generation to generation.


Ronald Reagan, Message on the Observance of the Jewish High Holy Days Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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