Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
A few days a week, I am in the car at 6:00 in the morning– not my usual commute time! But when I have to be up that early, I make sure my radio is tuned to 102.9, one of my staple country radio stations in Jackson.
This Jewish girl is an avid country music lover, and the truth is in my car I only alternate between three radio stations — and they’re all country radio! But there is a specific reason why I make sure 102.9 is my choice for my early-morning drive. You see, at 6 a.m., there’s a segment called “Oh Happy Day,” where listeners call in and share what makes the day particularly happy for them. I am always amazed at what people say.
Some share really big things, like a loved one surviving surgery, or getting the news that they are now cancer-free. Others are more everyday things, like getting to go to a concert or having a snow day. Whatever a person’s reason is for being especially joyful, I love to hear it. This time, however, a woman shared something that really struck a chord with me. She simply said, “I woke up today. That alone makes it a happy day.”
This simple yet incredible expression of gratefulness sounded familiar to me, I just wasn’t sure exactly why.
When I arrived at my office, I immediately grabbed a copy of the Mishkan T’filah prayerbook and flipped to the nisim b’chol yom, the daily blessings. In these blessings, we thank God for all sorts of miracles – seemingly small things, things that we could easily forget, thus forgetting just how fortunate we really are – like removing sleep from our eyes and allowing us to wake up. I realized that the woman’s snippet on the radio sounded familiar because I’ve said the same thing in prayer, in a slightly different way, for years and years. This prayer is so important that it used to be said in private at home, but the rabbis were so concerned that someone might have forgotten or not had the chance to say it that it is now said in public in the synagogue, too. Insignificant? Definitely not.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget the vast number of miracles that surround us every day when we’re swamped with work, disagreeing with a family member, or dealing with the general stresses of our lives. Listening to early-morning country radio as I drove through Mississippi prompted me to focus on the good, and looking in my prayer book reminded me that it’s not just a nice thing to be more grateful…it’s a very Jewish thing.
Today, I am focusing on all the “Oh Happy Day” things in my life, and I encourage you to do the same! It’s kept a smile on my face for hours. Feel free to share what you’re particularly happy about/grateful for in the comments below!