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By Mayor Stephanie Miner, City of Syracuse

“May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

That is the familiar greeting shared throughout the season of the new year. It reminds us to take care of one another, pray for blessings and embrace the hope that the fresh start of a new calendar holds for each of us.

The power of those simple words is magnified as we see our world in such darkness. With anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head once again at home and serious conflict abroad, we must pray for a good year ahead—for ourselves, our families and those across the globe.

Many cannot look ahead to the new year with such alacrity; rather, countless people look forward with despair. Millions across the globe live in countries that do not want them. These men, women and children have no homeland. Violence, oppression and fear are part of their lives. For many, their destiny is preordained by regimes of blind hate and uncontrolled rage.

During a recent trip to Israel along with other mayors and the American Jewish Committee, I visited sites that had been torn apart by years of war. But I learned of the spirit of Israel’s people through this: They persevered in hopes of better times ahead. They know that through their faith in God and their belief in their country, progress is possible and justice is within reach.

Israel’s Declaration of Establishment appeals to Jews around the world to support the new state and the immigration of millions of Jews to a new land of freedom. That history of immigration has, for the past 69 years of statehood, brought together a diverse nation united by its commitment to building a better life. The declaration boldly declares that Israel will be a home for exiles and a bastion for Jewish immigration, but also will ensure the equality of rights for everyone regardless of race or sex; it guarantees the freedom of worship and culture. This is the hope that is enshrined in the words of Israel’s national anthem, which proudly calls for Israelis “to be a free people in our land.”

Israel has been a historic home for refugees seeking a better life. Its commitment to displaced people—the Exiles separated across the globe during the Diaspora—is a lesson the United States should remember. American cities, like Syracuse, serve as beacons of hope across the world. We see Dreamers from Central and South America, the Rohingya escaping genocide in Myanmar, Sudan’s Lost Boys and freedom-seekers from all corners of the earth. In Syracuse, we are especially proud to be a sanctuary city because in providing shelter to those in the greatest need, we honor those who came before us seeking a new home, often with nothing and in the face of adversity.

This belief in delivering the promised land to those who wander in the deserts of their lives is one I hope we can inscribe and seal again in the New Year: a respite for those seeking a better life to live their values across the world. Let us, in this new year, continue to be that light for everyone.

Stephanie Miner is the mayor of the city of Syracuse.

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