Keshet is a national organization that works for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. The organization equips Jewish leaders with tools to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, creates spaces for queer Jewish teens to feel valued and develop their own leadership skills, and mobilizes the Jewish community to fight for LGBTQ justice. Keshet’s blog spotlights this work, as well as the voices of LGBTQ Jews, our families, and allies.
It’s the most magical time of the year.
And it’s not Christmas.
I love the month of Elul because it is the run up to the High Holidays and is for me the one time of the year where I am most reflective upon the year gone by: the highs, the lows, the triumphs, and the blows. It’s a whole glorious month where my thoughts can roam freely within a stream of consciousness or not. It’s a window into memories – good, bad, and indifferent. It’s a time that I embrace gratitude and confront my fears. It’s a time of great uncertainty knowing that the future that lies before me has yet to be written and is fully, within human limitations, in my grasp. It is a time to recognize and accept my failures and appreciate that I can transform them into success.
At nightfall, when I can catch a glimpse of the sky full of light from the stars and moon, I always take great comfort remembering all the people whom I have loved and lost and cared so deeply about. There are so many people, each year adding more and more. Sometimes these are fleeting moments or intense and focused periods of time. It can be random or intentional but always full of emotion and gratitude.
5776 has been a particularly good year for me and my family, but I am acutely aware that this is a deeply personal experience and certainly not one that is shared by all. I certainly recall when that was not the case living through periods of sadness and darkness when those closest to me have passed away or when challenges and obstacles that seemed so insurmountable confronted me. I remember and therefore know to never take any moment for granted as it can all be swept away in a heartbeat.
Within my community, there has been heartache and pain. Friends have lost jobs. Loved ones have died and some just don’t know how they will get through each day. Globally, terrorism runs rampant. Refugees roam the nations trying to escape tragedy, war, illness, and poverty. Innocent people die from senseless acts of violence and so many people feel left out. Homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism, and racism abounds. The list goes on. We know it. We all know it.
And yet, Elul arrives again and my heart is stirred by the full potential of what lies ahead. So, here are my goals for 5777.
Be the very best husband and father I can be. Be present for my life partner and for my children. Listen to them carefully. Understand not only their words but the context of those words, the meaning behind them, the emotion in which they are presented. Try harder and harder even when I feel I can’t do any better.
Stand by my principles and values, never surrendering them to fear, bullying, hostility, or ignorance. Stand up for what is right. Speak truth to power. Model for my children.
Engage with my communities expanding relationships, building bridges, opening up opportunities for everyone and pursuing justice.
Be forgiving and understanding. This is hard work and I have a long to go in this area. Be patient in this pursuit but pursue it nonetheless.
Pursue all my interests without apology. This is the source of growth – intellectually, physically and emotionally.
Live with honor and be guided by love.
Life is fragile. We are imperfect. In that spirit, I recognize that I may have offended or hurt some people along this journey. For that, I apologize. Yet, I appreciate that conviction and principle sometimes means that some relationships must end. That is okay but even then we must try to be the best of ourselves. I strive toward that knowing that my journey is far from complete and yet excited about all that lies ahead.
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Pronounced: eh-LULE, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish month usually coinciding with August-September.
Pronounced: roshe hah-SHAH-nah, also roshe ha-shah-NAH, Origin: Hebrew, the Jewish new year.