As the old year draws to a close, where in its wake lay death, destruction and much horror, the New Year beckons us closer, where we once again hope for peace, security and joy. It is the ritual we go through each year with habitual regularity. Somehow we like to believe that the simple changing of a number will bring with it a new-found sense of optimism and hope that didn’t exist before. In truth, it won’t. The problems that exist in the world and in our lives before the clock strikes midnight will still exist in the first few seconds after midnight, at the beginning of the fresh New Year. But that doesn’t mean that we have no cause for optimism. Because part of being Jewish is being optimistic. And part of being Jewish is being unrealistic. And part of being Jewish is believing in miracles. And part of being Jewish is believing in hope – where sometimes none exists. It’s believing in the good of the world, when only the bad is on display. It is believing in the hopes of our people, where too often only the despair is voiced. Though times may be dark, with anti-Semitism at levels not seen since the Nazi regime, it does not mean we should abandon hope. Because we have, in Israel, a true homeland in this world for all Jews – something that did not exist for thousands of years. That alone is cause for massive celebration and continued optimism. Whatever calamity might be attempted against our people in the future, we can at least be certain in the knowledge that we will not face a situation again, where the world’s doors remained shut, while we banged on them desperately pleading to be let in. So in the end, as the light outside my windows fades, and the final night of 2014 visits us, I will not sit back and contemplate the negative energies that circulate the world. I will not dwell on the darkness that so often seems to overwhelm us. I will not worry too much about the future which at times can often seem bleak. Instead, I will think about the good in the world and I will think about all the people who contribute so much to it. I will think about the opportunity that a new year can bring – the freshness of ideas and the positive energy that accompanies it. And I will draw strength from our famous prophet Isaiah who called on us, almost 3000 years ago, to be “a Light unto the Nations”. You see, being positive and hopeful and optimistic is not just a choice – it’s built into the very fabric of my Jewish soul. So the vultures might circle above and the wolves might gather below, but I am secure in the knowledge that I am part of a strong people with a rich history and a safe and secure land of our own.It really is a happy new year.