Students Seek Forgiveness, Too

Adults aren’t the only ones planning to ask God for forgiveness during the High Holidays. As the Day of Atonement approaches, youngsters around Los Angeles are already contemplating the mistakes they’ve made over the past year. Here is what eight young Angelenos plan to repent for during Yom Kippur.

Sophie Kay

Age: 12

7th Grade


I will repent for gossip. When one of your friends doesn’t like another one of your friends, they talk about the person. Of course, I try not to take part in it, but it’s hard.

Zack Hirst

Age: 12

8th Grade


I think I’ll ask forgiveness for everything I’ve done bad this year, like not being honest with my parents.

Erin Blagman

Age: 11

6th Grade

Hancock Park

I’ll probably ask for forgiveness for not working to my full ability in school. Also I’ll try not to be so sarcastic all the time with my family. Mainly, it’s my timing with that one!

Spencer Anson

Age: 11

6th Grade

Los Angeles

My sister and I got into a couple of fights lately. I’m going to apologize for whenever I was mean to her.

Rebecca Shapiro

Age: 13

8th Grade

North Hollywood

I’ll atone for mistakes I made that hurt other people. I don’t mean to hurt them, but sometimes I do. I’ll also atone for the opportunities I had to do kindness and didn’t do it.

Staav Goldreich

Age: 14

9th Grade

Woodland Hills

I don’t know what I’ll atone for. I’ve been a good child this year. I’ve been mean to my sister, but she deserved that. How about I’m sorry that I ate so much chocolate?

Natasha Rosenfield

Age: 12

7th Grade

Granada Hills

Mostly, I’d like to ask forgiveness of some of my friends, because we fought and to my parents because we disagree a lot and get into fights sometimes. I’ll probably confront them all.

David Hermel

Age: 13

8th Grade

Sherman Oaks

When I think of teshuvah, which means "return," I think of how I can be a better person and return to my Jewish values by doing mitzvot and chesed (acts of lovingkindness). At this time of the year especially, I ask my friends and family to forgive me for sins I may have committed against them.

Have the Lessons of Oslo Been Forgotten?

When the Oslo accords collapsed three years ago with the Palestinian Arabs’ launching of mass violence against Israel, numerous American Jewish leaders publicly admitted that they had been wrong all along about Oslo — wrong to believe the Palestinian Arabs wanted peace, wrong to ignore Palestinian Arab violations of the accords, such as anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement, and wrong to sit by silently as the U.S. pressured Israel to make more one-sided concessions.

Yet today, many American Jewish leaders are making that terrible mistake once again.

The words that disillusioned Jewish leaders wrote or spoke in late 2000 and early 2001 make for fascinating — and tragic — reading today.

The American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) took out a full-page ad in The New York Times (Nov. 12, 2000) headlined: “It takes a big organization to admit it was wrong.” The text read, in part: “We were persuaded that despite [Yasser Arafat’s] history of terrorism, he had chosen the path to peace. Perhaps we wanted to be persuaded.”

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, then-president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), said in his keynote address to the UAHC convention on June 1, 2001: “I have been wrong, and I believe our Reform movement has been wrong about a number of things. We misjudged Palestinian intentions and misread Palestinian society…. We did not pay nearly enough attention to the culture of hatred created and nourished by Palestinian leaders … the growing use of anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi language in the Palestinian media.”

Rabbi Martin Weiner, president of the Central Conference of American (Reform) Rabbis, put it this way: “Many of us who have supported the Oslo process for the last decade must admit to ourselves that the Palestinians really do not want peace…” (Jerusalem Post, March 7, 2002). His colleague, Rabbi Amiel Hirsch, director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, was blunt: “I think there is reason to re-evaluate the underlying thesis of Oslo” (Forward, Oct. 13, 2000).

Leonard Cole, chairman of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said that in order for there to be peace, there would have to be “a demonstrated effort by the Palestinians by way of what they teach their children, by way of the textbooks, the maps that are shown, that shows that they, too, are partners [for peace].” (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2000).

Yet, incredibly, many Jewish leaders are now making the exact same mistake about Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas that they made about Arafat. And now it’s even worse — because while Arafat publicly made commitments but did not fulfill them, Abbas says openly, “I have no intention to dismantle Hamas and Islamic Jihad” and declares that the PA police “will not go house to house in search of weapons.”

Perhaps in another year or two, a major Jewish organization will take out yet another ad headlined, “It takes a big organization to admit it was wrong.” But how many more Israelis will die in the meantime? How many more one-sided concessions will be squeezed out of Israel? How many more terrorists will Israel be pressured into setting free?

In 1993, Arafat insisted that he wanted to live in peace with Israel. Just like Abbas says today. When he signed the Oslo accords, Arafat pledged to stop all violence against Israel and, for a time, there was, indeed, a reduction in terrorist attacks, just as Abbas did for seven weeks before a bus exploded in Jerusalem on Tuesday, killing 20 and wounding about 100.

Arafat’s words were pleasant sounding, like Abbas.’ People “wanted to be persuaded,” as the AJCongress newspaper ad put it. Today, too, people want to be persuaded. But to avoid repeating the mistakes of the Oslo years, we need to compare Abbas’ words to Abbas’ deeds.

Just like Arafat, Abbas is required to stop the vicious anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement that appears every day in the official P.A. media, school books, speeches and religious sermons. And just like Arafat, he refuses to stop it.

Just like Arafat, Abbas is required to treat Hamas and Islamic Jihad as terrorists, as enemies. And just like Arafat, he treats them as brothers and comrades, shelters them from Israeli arrest, demands that Israel free their imprisoned members, calls them “heroes” and “martyrs” and names streets and summer camps after them.

Ironically, while Jewish leaders and the Bush administration are championing Abbas as the “moderate” alternative to Arafat, Abbas makes it clear that he is as loyal to Arafat as ever.

Abbas co-founded the Fatah terrorist movement and was Arafat’s second in command for 40 years. He has said he makes no decisions without Arafat’s approval.

Abbas does not represent a “new” Palestinian Arab leadership, “not compromised by terror” — the condition that President Bush set in his June 2002 speech but subsequently ignored. Abbas is a terrorist who is temporarily using diplomacy to gain territory, Western funding and, perhaps, even a sovereign state.

The only difference between Abbas and Arafat is the suit and the shave.

Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America.