There’s a lot of reasons to love being Jewish—community, Shabbat, Passover seders, really funny comedians we get to claim as our own, and mandel bread—but here’s another perk:
We members of the tribe get to ring in the New Year not once, but twice a year.
This year, the need for a winter celebration for the Jews seems all the more necessary—with the unusual occurrence of one of the earliest Chanukahs in history in the distant rearview mirror.
During the fall, in the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I take seriously the season of reflection, reviewing what I've done right and what I could have done better during the course of the Jewish year, asking people in my life and God for forgiveness.
And then a few months later, as the days draw shorter, the temperature plummets, and the smell of wood and pine fill the air, we get to do it all a second time around.
On Tuesday night, we’ll trade in our shofars for noisemakers, and this time ring in the new year with the rest of the world.
More than any other holiday, Jewish or secular, I hear people talk a lot of smack about New Year’s Eve. “It’s a waste of money…” “Too many drunken idiots…” “It’s a big hassle…” and “It’s impossible to find a cab…” they complain. And, yes, I admit their bellyaching is founded on truth.
But, despite all that, I kinda love it.
I love grabbing a sparkly top from my closet, hanging out with good friends, drinking a glass of bubbly—or maybe two—and starting anew as the clock strikes midnight.
Just like in the fall, I once again take stock of my past year and look ahead to some of my wishes and goals for the next. There’s something hopeful and exciting about the unknown, the many varied paths and possibilities that will unfold for each of us next year.
My life, for one, played out very differently than I thought it would at the start of 2013. And for the people I know, and I’d venture for most of you, your year was different then you'd envisioned too; we all faced both times of despair and times of great simcha.
After we watched some doors close these last 12 months, we’ll see new windows open in 2014—windows that we can’t yet even see our reflection in.
Each of us will take a journey in the coming year. We already know certain hints of where are life is headed, but so much of the new year is a clean slate, yet to be written.
This time of year, the media fills our airwaves, pages, and phones with top 10 lists galore—everything this year from a spy fleeing to Russia to a trailblazing pope to a catchy little ditty sung by the Growing Pains dad’s kid to an irritating new word/dance move created by Billy Ray Cyrus’ kid.
I jump on the list-making bandwagon each December and brainstorm my top 10 resolutions for the year to come. The requisite tasks of dragging myself to the treadmill and procrastinating less usually make the cut, but so too do my deeper mandates, like “Spend the year living a life with meaning,” “Be better to the people I love,” “Do more FaceTime with my fast-growing nephews,” and “Laugh a lot.”
Let's each use these last couple days of 2013 to take stock of where we’ve been these past 12 months and we’re headed in the next 12.
And then, lucky us, we get to do it all again in September.
May your 2014 be filled with love, laughter, and meaning—and may your 5774 continue to be sweet!