Begin Again

Once again, the stars have aligned in the universe to conspire against me. They keep sending me hints. The steady stream of sound bites comes to me in various ways, through different sources, and at unexpected times. Facebook, emails, texts, videos, news clips, articles, blogs, a casual meeting over coffee…the messages tease and taunt. They compel me to listen, to learn, to accept, and to act when I don’t want to.

I am tired. I want to disappear. I want to be on vacation in a faraway place where no one knows my name, speaks my language, or has any expectation of me. But, alas, I cannot hide or disappear. I must dig deep and continue to find the energy to accept and fulfill the responsibilities that have been bestowed upon me. As Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks says, “Judaism is God’s call to human responsibility.” So there you go.

It’s September again. A new academic year has started. My birthday was last week. The fortieth anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah (though I never actually had one) is this week; Parashat Ha’Azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1 – 32:52). And, the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is tomorrow. What do all of these events have in common? Evaluating, learning from, and building on the past; developing a new plan for the future; and making it happen. Simple, right?

It’s so easy to do nothing and lie on the couch all day. It’s so easy to complain about things that are wrong and do nothing to fix them. It’s so easy to hang out with the same friends and not meet new ones. It’s so easy to stick to well-known routines and not try new things. We want things to be easy. We want comfort. We want familiarity. We want predictability. We want to feel in control.

Getting out and facing the world is difficult. Stepping up and promoting change is difficult. Being brave and engaging the unknown is difficult. Finding and paving new paths is difficult. Living like this is difficult. It makes us feel uncomfortable. It makes us feel alone. It makes us feel unsure. It makes us feel out of control. But, as humans – as parents, teachers, volunteers, employees, leaders, and especially as Jews – we must venture out of our comfort zones. We must actively search for ways to be better and do better. The world will only become a better place if we make it so. I choose to take this notion seriously…even if I don’t always want to.

With each new birthday, anniversary, or New Year, we are given the opportunity to start with a new, clean page. What will you write on yours this year?

Shanah tovah u’mitukah…A happy, healthy, sweet, productive, and peaceful New Year to one and all.

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