Rosh Hashanah begins Sunday night. The Jewish Federation is pleased to provide the 5780 High Holy Day Community Calendar full of wonderful opportunities for people to celebrate the New Year and holidays. We encourage you to find your place at one of our wonderful synagogues or seek your own personal ways to observe the holidays.
The Jewish year 5780 is upon us. And Sunday night we will begin celebrating the birthday of the world on Rosh Hashanah. And what a world we live in today. Political chaos in America. Israeli elections unsettled even after a second election in four months. Gun violence continues. Climate change is threatening our planet. Anti-Semitism is on the rise. Too often we hear more upsetting than positive news.
During these times, I have been doing a great deal of reflection. Just two weeks ago I wrote, “We must take the opportunity to reflect on the past year, look carefully at ourselves, re-evaluate and reexamine who and where we are in our lives, and look forward to the ways in which next year can be different. It is also a time to seek to heal relationships, to offer overdue apologies, and to repair the damage we have caused to others.”
So, I thought I would share some personal and professional new year’s resolutions. In simple terms, this coming year I aspire to do more and to do differently.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth, wrote an article several years ago about people’s journeys into the future with each new calendar year.
Rabbi Sacks shares five beautiful things “to do” – along with my own personal thoughts:
- Dream – Seemingly the least practical activity turns out to be the most necessary, and most often left undone. What journey am I on? What do I want the next 1, 3, 10 years to be like for myself, my family and our community? What are the possibilities and what will give me a sense of accomplishment?
- Follow your passion – Do the things you enjoy. Spending time with my family makes me the happiest, and too often, I do not have enough family time. Beyond my family, I have had a passion for Jewish professional leadership since I was a teenager. I believe in and love the work that I do, and moreover, want to see others touched by the beauty of Jewish life.
- Do not ask what you want from life. Ask what life wants from you. – This comes from noted Holocaust survivor and psychotherapist Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. As Rabbi Sacks states, “The great lives are ones where people hear a calling, have a sense of vocation…This is where the ‘want to do’ meets what is crying out to be done.” And there is much to be done in our world today. That is where my focus will be.
- Make space in your life for the things that matter – for family and friends, love and generosity, fun and joy. –This perhaps is often the greatest challenge. We all recognize that time is limited, yet if we really think about it, we are in control of our own time and calendar. Make the most of what you want from the things that matter most to you.
- Work hard! – No one who achieves, even those who make it look easy, ever succeeds without hard work. I certainly learned that from my father’s deli business. And, this holds true in anything and everything we do as individuals. It is my expectation to work hard every day on behalf of the Jewish people and our community, and I am very proud of the impact we are making.
Beyond these personal reflections, there are many goals I have for the Jewish Federation and our Greater Portland Jewish community. As you know, the Jewish Federation is celebrating its 100 th anniversary in 2020. We will be doing much to commemorate this auspicious occasion throughout the next 16 months. This includes our Centennial Trip to Israel and the upcoming Wexner Heritage Leadership Development Program. But the most important thing we can do is to accentuate current portals and find new entry points for people into Jewish community. These gateways must be easy to access and of interest to them – not only the interests of those most involved and long-time “insiders.”
At the same time, I want the Jewish Federation to focus on how it can be a more effective organization. To do even more to enrich and strengthen our Jewish community:
- Be awesome and create audacious goals.
- Feel comfortable with new and different, even though it is scary at times.
- Failure can often be the greatest mark of success.
- Always ask questions and learn from the successes of others.
- Take bold action before we have to.
- Be open to feedback and use what we learn to improve.
And here is a thought for each of us to think about for the new year – When is the last time you did something for the first time?
H. Jackson Brown Jr., author of the Complete Life’s Little Instruction Book , wrote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
As we usher in this New Year, my family extends its best wishes for a Shana Tova u’Metuka . May you have a sweet year filled with good health, happiness, success, and joy.