Pressing ‘reset’ on 5784

New year, new opportunities

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One of my favorite times on the Jewish calendar is the High Holiday season. We as Jews get the chance to reflect and take stock of the year behind us, and press "reset" on the year ahead. Sounding the shofar is a wakeup call for all of us. "Arise, you who are fast asleep," wrote Maimonides, "and awaken, you who slumber." Here are some of my resolutions for 5784; maybe they'll resonate with you, too.

Break out the folding chairs.

When I moved to Chicago more than two decades ago, I hardly knew a soul. The first time a friendly face invited me to her Rosh Hashanah gathering made me feel so seen--and inspired me later on to host an annual break-the-fast for friends, and anyone else who needed a place to go. We never know what someone is going through, and we also never know what a simple invitation could mean to someone.

Keep a slip of paper in each pocket.

There's a famous teaching--attributed to 18th century Hasidic rebbe Simcha Bunem--that says we should keep two slips of paper in our pockets at all times. One should read, "The world was created for me," and the other, "I am but dust and ashes." The lesson? Each of us matters, but none of us matters more than others.

Look up, not down.

My 3-year-old loves to look up at the sky. She'll remark that a cloud looks like a dolphin or that the sunrise is bursting with her favorite color--red. She'll notice when the moon is a crescent at times, and full at others. I hope to take a page from her playbook and look down at my phone less--and up at the sky more.

Show up for the stuff that matters…

Hineni --which means "Here I am" in Hebrew--means so much more than responding "present" to roll call. Rather, it signifies a profound spiritual presence and readiness. Whether it's showing up to say Kaddish alongside a friend who lost a family member, or dancing the hora to celebrate a newly married couple, I plan to show up in meaningful ways in the year ahead.

…but skip the stuff that doesn't.

I used to say 'yes' to everything. But lately, time feels like my scarcest resource, so I give myself permission to turn down events that feel less important--and to say "yes" a whole lot more to my couch and Hulu.

Count my blessings.

The Talmud ( Menachot 43b ) states that we are each obligated to recite 100 blessings a day. That's why many Jews say a bracha when they eat, a bracha when they take in a sunset, and even a bracha when they go to the bathroom. Whether I count exactly 100 blessings or not, I am forever striving to be ever more aware of how lucky I am--to have food in my belly, a warm bed to sleep in, freedom to be anything I want, and loved ones in my corner.

Remember that little ears are listening.

As the Stephen Sondheim song goes: "...Careful the things you say, children will listen. Careful the things you do, children will see and learn..." These days, there are two little people mirroring everything I do and say. Pressure! I hope to model to my daughters how to treat people, animals, and the earth with care; how to be kind with words and actions; and how not to be jaded, but to live life in--as Rabbi Abraham Joseph Heschel said--"radical amazement."

Wishing you and your loved ones a New Year filled with radical amazement and lots of sweetness!


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