We celebrated Rosh Hashanah back in September, but most of us also mark this time of year. Given that we have two “New Years” (more even, there are actually four in the Jewish calendar, the next being Tu B’shvat, the New Year of the trees), it’s useful to pause and reflect. Did you commit yourself to any goals at Rosh Hashanah that need attention now? How have the last few months been? And what are you seeking in the months ahead?
Some of you might be setting resolutions. Others might shrug the tradition off. There are other ways I’ve been exploring this year. Check out the work of http://www.susannahconway.com/ who has a New Year’s workbook or, if that’s too much to take on, a little challenge to find one word that will be your anchor this year. Words she suggests might work for you are: presence, mindfulness, hope, peace, rest, joy, laughter, strength. Is there a word that you hope will be thematic for you in 2018?
You might be more interested in asking yourself some questions for reflection. These ones are useful: https://nosidebar.com/intentionally/
As Humanists, asking hard questions about the world and about ourselves is part of our philosophy. As Jews, it might be interesting to consider whether our worldview, our goals/resolutions, and our way of being in the world is inflected and informed by Jewish values and experience.
Do you have any resolutions centred around Judaism for this year? Here are some ideas:
-Learn something new about Judaism (one way is to check out Rabbi Eva’s fabulous adult learning sessions)
-Research a historical period/place and how Jews lived. For example, what was life like for Jews living in the Ottoman Empire? Or Jews in China?
-Start a new Jewish practice: light Shabbat candles each week, start doing Havdallah on a monthly basis (there are Humanistic ways to do these rituals), celebrate a holiday you’ve never celebrated before with your family
-Attend a, or attend more often a, Jewish-themed film, speaker, book talk, etc
-Do some text study online or in a group. Torah, Tanakh, Talmud, even Kabbalah…
Sometimes a year is too daunting to consider. Perhaps we can commit to one Jewish value/idea to inspire us and work on per month. Here’s an example (you can sub in your own Jewish values if you wish):
January - tzedakah (charity/justice)
February - chesed (loving kindness)
March - hochma (wisdom)
April - yetzira (creativity)
May - rachamim (compassion)
June - sameach (joy)
July - seder (organization and order)
August - Tiferet (balance)
September - rodef shalom (pursue peace)
October - achrayut (social responsibility)
November -hakarat hatov (gratitude)
December - ahava (love)
If you’d like to ask me about Jewish sources or insights into any of these concepts, please drop me a line! I’d love to chat.
The new year ahead is like freshly fallen snow (of which we’ve had plenty!): somehow pure, a little bit like a blank canvas, something inviting us to muck it up and make our tracks all through it. No one’s year will be perfect or pristine. But I hope all of us experience adventure and laughter, joy and peace, health and happiness.
Happy 2018! Let’s make this a great year, together.