New Year’s: 2019 and 5779


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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. 

For members of my community it is already the NEWest Year, from our calendar change in the Fall when ‘traditional counting’ suggests this to be 5779 years since Creation.

Those who enjoy playing with numbers, numerology, as did the ancients of the Middle East, note the year 5779 has the equivalence of 28. Twenty-eight in Hebrew numerology produces the letters “Kaf” and “Chet”. [Every Hebrew letter has a number equivalent: Kaf = 20, Chet = 8.]

These two letters together also spell out a word, “Koach”, pronounced KOH-ach [with the ‘ach’ sounded as in the composer’s name, Bach]. Koach means ‘strength.’ So were we to look for meaning in the numbers and words of 5779, we would be pleased to see a year offering strong potential.

The dictionary defines ‘strong’ with numerous explanations — bodily or muscular power, mentally powerful, competent, courageous, influential and 11 more descriptions. Generally, ‘strong’ has to do with power of some sort. So, as we enter this new year, whether 5779 or 2019, we have the challenge of addressing power.

The world is tugging between the powerful and the rest of us. Strength may be a positive or a negative, depending on its implementation. Just being stronger does not provide entitlement for abuse or intolerance. It takes more strength to challenge the powerful, than to cower from them.

With every New Year comes a hope — to have a better year than the previous one. The year 2018 was a difficult year for many nations, for thousands of religiously persecuted peoples, for those living through the turmoil of storms and climate issues, and for hundreds dying beneath a hail of bullets.

As we muster the strength to enter this New Year, let’s try and make it an opportunity for successes and good health.

Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. A volunteer police chaplain, he regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at

Photo by Sergio Heads on / CC BY-ND

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