Ronald Reagan picture

Message on the Observance of the Jewish High Holy Days

August 31, 1988

With reverence, awe, and joy, Jewish people around the globe observe Rosh Hashanah, or the Day of Judgment, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On Rosh Hashanah, the Almighty judges the actions of mankind; and, because it is the world's birthday, He takes stock of His creations. Yom Kippur is a time for reflection and introspection.

During these High Holy Days, Jews focus their prayers on their individual deeds and the need for repentance—and on the wellbeing of their brethren and of all humanity. The liturgy of these special days portrays the Almighty as both a stern judge and a compassionate father. Those who observe these Holy Days seek renewed strength and forgiveness for their shortcomings]

The Jewish New Year is also a happy time of rebirth and optimism, a time to look to the future with hopes and high expectation. This past year has seen limited but nevertheless positive steps on the issue of human rights in the Soviet Union, and I hope progress will continue and accelerate as the new year of 5749 unfolds. I will continue to press for the release of all refuseniks, for full freedom of emigration, and for basic rights of religious and cultural expression. We cannot be satisfied with less.

Nancy joins me in extending warm greetings to Jewish people here and abroad, and in once again saying, L'Shanah Tova—may you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.


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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