A wonderful thing about being a Jew is that you get two opportunities to make New Year’s resolutions. One at the beginning of the solar calendar (which is the standard New Years for many of us) and one at the beginning of the lunisolar calendar (which marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year). This year’s Jewish New Year begins on September 9th.
If you met me in person and we had the typical “get to know you” conversation, I’m pretty sure being Jewish would come into the chat somewhat. I don’t classify myself as a religious person but there are many aspects of my childhood and day to day life that are quintessentially Jewish. I grew up among the Jewish retirees in South Florida. I spent many a summer at Jewish sleep away camp. I have visited Israel multiple times. Those anecdotes are merely the tip of the iceberg. Judaism is the thread that binds me and many of those around me. It brings me joy but can bring stress at times.
For the past few years, the Jewish New Year is a huge source of stress for me. It hasn’t felt like a part of me for a long time. The themes of renewal and atonement get clouded in the logistics and anxiety of where and how long the service will be, who will be hosting the family meal, and what time it starts. What to say, what not to say. What to wear, what not to wear. It’s all noise.
This year the noise will still be there, but I won’t let it drown me out. I’m still skeptical about the existence of a higher power and the veracity that the stories in the bible actually happened, yet I desperately want to focus inward on reflect on the past year and aspire to improve in the new one.
A value of Judaism is “tikkun olam” which literally means “repair the world”. During the busy time of the holidays, I will use this as my mantra and intention. I’ve never felt as strongly about it as I do now since becoming a parent. This world needs to be better for our children and I’ve seen so many people around me step up to make a change, and I need to do that too. I plan to devote more time and energy towards causes that I care about. Causes with a mission to make our world more safe, tolerant, and peaceful.
This past year has made an impact on me, both on a personal and global level. The stuff I read in the news and see on TV is absolutely horrifying and heartbreaking. Especially as a mother, the terror and strife happening at this moment keeps me awake many nights.
I’ve envied the confidence of friends who pray for things to improve and while I might remain skeptical in the power of prayers, I am going to use my faith as inspiration to take action.