Posted at: 09/04/2013 11:49 PM
| Updated at: 09/04/2013 11:51 PM
By: Dan Levy
ALBANY - Despite turmoil in the Middle East, Jews around the world ushered in their new year Wednesday night, beginning their Rosh Hashana celebration at sundown. This year's High Holiday period is tempered by the backdrop of a heightened vulnerability for the Jewish homeland.
At Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany, the beginning of the ten day Jewish High Holiday period, the most solemn and sacred season of the year, is a time of spiritual renewal and self reflection.
This year, 5774 on the Jewish calendar, begins with heightened turmoil in the Middle East, which everyone in the Beth Emeth sanctuary realizes means Israel is in the crosshairs.
"In every age and every generation our joys are diminished by the suffering of others," says Rabbi Scott Shpeen, senior rabbi at Beth Emeth. " "No matter what time of the year, there's always things that seem to be happening that tempers the joyousness of our season."
Rabbi Shpeen thinks chemical warfare and Syrian misery resonate in the Jewish community because six million Jews were gassed in Auschwitz and other death camps.
"It's not necessarily how many, but at what point do we say, "Enough is enough?" and something needs to be done," Shpeen says.
What ever gets done, if it were up to Congressman Chris Gibson (R - Kinderhook), military action would not be it. Gibson says diplomacy is the best way to resolve the Syrian conflict, and attacking President Bashar Assad would only make matters worse.
"It will Americanize that civil war," Gibson says, "It would make us responsible and that is not in our interest and I don't think it's in the interest of the Syrian people either."
Amsterdam Congressman Paul Tonko also opposes a military strike. He says other countries that misinterpret the current U.S. indecision does so at their own risk.
"Without UN authorization we could be into it for the long haul," Tonko says.