How does Azerbaijan relate to Rosh Hashanah compared to other countries?

How does Azerbaijan relate to Rosh Hashanah compared to other countries?


By Rachel Avraham

In recent days, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev congratulated the Jewish community on Rosh Hashanah. He stated: “The Jewish community of Azerbaijan, a country where there is an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust between different peoples and religions, considers this place to be their homeland. You have been living in Azerbaijan in peace and tranquility for hundreds of years, preserving your unique traditions, language and culture, and have never faced anti-Semitism and discrimination.”

He continued: “The promotion of multicultural values, principles of tolerance and diversity of cultural self-expression, which have existed in our country for centuries, are among priority directions of our state policy.”

According to him, “It is commendable that our compatriots of Jewish origin, as an integral part of our society, closely participate in the great construction work in our country together with representatives of other nations and faiths, spare no effort for the development and progress of modern Azerbaijan, and honorably fulfill their civic duty in the further strengthening of our state independence.”

Azerbaijan’s President added: “Rosh Hashanah embodies the feelings of innovation, spiritual purity, kindness and solidarity. May this bright holiday bring happiness to your families and blessings to your tables.”

Following the Azerbaijani President’s remarks, Rabbi Zamir Isayev stated: “The Azerbaijani Jews every year get a greeting of the president and he says that we are part of Azerbaijani society. They also take part of the holiday and give the respect and love from the Azerbaijani people to the Jewish people on every Rosh Hashanah. They are very warm in their hearts.”

The question remains, how do other countries react to Rosh Hashanah? Usually, the US President does not hold special parties on Rosh Hashanah, but for the first time this year, US President Biden this year is hosting a Rosh Hashanah party. He also issued a statement, but it was not as warm as Aliyev’s greetings: “On Rosh Hashanah, Jewish communities around the world celebrate the world’s birth and commemorate the creation of humankind.”

According to him, “Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe that follow charge those who celebrate to pause, look inward, and reflect on the past year. It is a time to undertake an inventory of the soul, a cheshbon hanefesh, and to ask of ourselves and of each other questions that go beyond our own individual faiths: Who do I want to be? What type of nation do we want to forge? What type of world do we want to create?”

“That is the message and gift of the Jewish New Year – a reminder of our infinite capacity to transform our lives and begin anew,” President Biden stated. “To partner with the Divine and our fellow human beings in the ongoing work of creation. To rebuild our communities through empathy, acts of kindness, and compassion. To seek repentance, or teshuva, when we have fallen short of our values. Rosh Hashanah is a reaffirmation that we are each endowed, by virtue of our Creator and our common humanity, with the ability to bridge the gap between the world we see and the world we seek.”

In conclusion, President Biden stressed: “In that effort, we’ve made significant progress, but much work remains. To protect ourselves and each other against a once-in-a-century virus. To rebuild an economy that provides opportunity for all Americans. To give hate no safe harbor, and speak out with clarity and conviction against antisemitism wherever and however it manifests. To reaffirm our ironclad bond with the State of Israel. May the year 5782 be a year of health, healing, and progress. And may we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.”

Other world leaders, such as the French President, the British Prime Minister and the Canadian Prime Minister, were completely silent on Rosh Hashanah. This makes Azerbaijan stand out as a unique country among the community of nations.

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