'Put aside divisions and build bridges of cooperation'

President Rivlin hosted some 500 people for traditional Selichot prayers.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Selichot at the Presidential Residence
Selichot at the Presidential Residence
Kobi Gideon/GPO

Along with hundreds of neighborhood residents, pre-army academy students and IDF soldiers, for the sixth year President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday held the traditional Selichot penitential prayers at the Beit HaNasi synagogue, accompanied by singer Shai Tzabari and performer Akiva Tourgeman.

"This year, the period of Selichot and personal reckoning is side-by-side with a period of national reckoning for Israeli society,” said the president at the beginning of his remarks.

“This time, when we are examining the year that has passed, and renewing the relationships between ourselves and our fellow humans, and between ourselves and the Almighty, an additional task was added – the national mission of building the institutional infrastructure of Israeli democracy to lead Israeli citizens in the years ahead. It is therefore symbolic that the Jewish commandment of seeking atonement and granting forgiveness should come now, in these days, when it is so vital on the personal, social, and political spheres.”

"The last year was a year of choices," said the president, noting the importance of participating in the democratic process to shape society and the country. "Not as a slogan without meaning, but out of belief and a profound feeling of civil commitment. It is a choice is to engage in complex discussion on the core issues and the raw edges of Israeli society. It is a choice to do and to voice your opinions, and just as important, to listen and to allow others to do so, even when it is difficult and we do not agree. It is a choice to give our vote, power and authority to our elected officials whose job it is to lead the difficult, complex and vital process of building Israeli society.”

“And today, right now, it is a choice to forgive. To forgive statements that caused offense, bitter arguments and disagreement on matters of principle. To put aside divisions and to build bridges of cooperation. To work together for a great purpose, to pave the way for the new year, may it be for good.”

“I know that recently the belief that common ground still exists has been undermined, and for many Israelis there is a question of whether we should still be working together. To atone, to forgive, to repair? And here, the month of Tishrei has come and the new year is with us. And I believe in our ability and our duty to return and to choose. To choose which lessons and conclusions we will take with us from the last year, and what disagreements we can put aside in search of common goals. We can choose how to grow from here, how to build and to be built.”

"I believe that choice, as well as forgiveness, is in our hands, and that it is our duty as the new year begins," concluded president. "May this be a year of pardon and forgiveness, a year of friendship and comradeship, a year of building and growth, for us and for our children throughout Israel."