You Don’t Have to Be Jewish (to Have a Happy New Year), Day 119
On a traffic-ridden ride to sing services in Long Island, I began to write a post about bicycling over the Brooklyn Bridge on Labor Day. As tears of gratefulness later welled up in my eyes during the evening Rosh Hashanah prayers, I realized my need to pause instead with our friends on the event of the Jewish New Year. For many years, I have called New Year’s Eve my favorite holiday (even after a drug surreptitiously slipped in my drink at a club on NYE landed me with a not so lovely trip to the hospital and subsequent bill) for its motivational power to cause us to re-evaluate, make changes, and even hit the reset button on our lives. We look to the future, make resolutions, and decide to change something, even if we sometimes only modify our habits for a month, a week, or a day.
Turning my concept of a New Year celebration on it’s head, Rabbi Jaimee Shalhevet spoke in her sermon about the need to live in the moment, every moment, to fully live and enjoy the blessings. In fact, she actually referred to the Talmud, in which Rabbi Meir suggests reciting one hundred such blessings per day (about one for every ten minutes of our waking lives). When their Rabbi Emeritus Daniel Fogel’s hands shook as he joyfully blessed the congregation at the end of our evening service, I had to wonder if that sort of practice in his own life led to the joy he has now in his later years.
For my part, the earlier tears during prayer arose from a deep gratitude from the incredible changes in my life and the unfathomable experiences I’ve enjoyed this past year. Rabbi Shalhevet also suggested in her sermon that prayers and blessings do more for those of us feeling or reciting them than for God who doesn’t need them; that we can improve the quality of our own lives by the way in which we celebrate and experience each moment fully and as an end in itself. I suspect my self-enforced attitude toward embracing change and eradicating excuses in my life has done just that and allowed me, in part each time I contemplate my next post, to reflect upon the gift of enlightenment each very different day brings. After a most wonderful eight months here, I count my blessings for truly one of the best years of my life, a fantastic today, and a fount of surprising and hopeful tomorrows to come. Thank you for joining me along the way. L’Shanah Tova, Happy New Year and many todays to come.