Rosh Hashanah reminds us of the power of hope, the importance of faith, and the unyielding belief that our best days are ahead of us. For Jewish communities across America and around the world, these ‘Days of Awe’ are an opportunity to stop and reflect on what each of us can do to perfect our union and repair our world.

Each year, the High Holidays compel all who celebrate to reexamine their lives and ask a simple question: what kind of person do I wish to be? It is the same question that all of us — Jewish or not — should ask ourselves in this moment of widespread struggle and pain. What kind of people do we wish to be? What kind of country do we wish to be? The message of Rosh Hashanah compels all of us to forge a future of kindness and compassion. It calls us to fulfill our responsibilities to treat our fellow human beings with dignity, decency, and respect. It inspires us to make real the promise of our values by protecting public health; preserving our planet; working toward racial equity; stamping out anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry; reaffirming our identity as a nation of immigrants; and pursuing peace and security at home, in Israel, and throughout the world.

I know how much Jewish families wish they could gather side-by-side at the dinner table tonight, dip apples in honey to invoke a sweet new year, and sit with old friends in their usual seats at the synagogue. That can’t happen right now, and I recognize how painful that can be. But the tradition of the High Holidays reminds us that we can find purpose in our pain, solace in our sorrow, and hope in the face of adversity.

As the calendar shifts to 5781, I join with Jewish Americans in looking forward to a new chapter of purpose, solace, and hope — a year of progress and possibility, of light and love. May all who celebrate have your prayers heard and your faith rewarded, and may you be inscribed in the Book of Life. On behalf of Jill, Kamala, Doug, and each of our families, I wish you all a happy, healthy, and sweet new year. Shana Tova.