Image from Wikimedia Commons - Billy Hicks

Resolving To Make My Secular New Year A More Jewish One

This year, I'm thinking about resolutions a little differently.

Every year, as January 1 approaches, someone inevitably asks me about my New Year’s resolutions. I don’t have the heart to tell them that not only did I already celebrate the Jewish New Year a few months ago, which is a bigger deal to me—but I also don’t really like the idea of “New Year’s resolutions.”

What’s got me so down on these annual resolutions? Most of the time, they seem random or clichéd. I’ve made resolutions to go to the gym more often because my friends and family are doing the same. I’ve promised to be more organized simply because I’ve found myself losing track of things in the busy-ness that comes with the end of the year.

But this year, I’ve decided to give New Year’s resolutions another go … only this time, I want my resolutions to be based in the Jewish values that matter most to me in my life and work. So here goes:

  • Chinuch (Education and Study): As an Education Fellow at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL), it’s easy to say that chinuch is a part of my daily life as it is. For 2018, however, I would like to continue my own personal education and development. It’s about time I started making progress on my “Books to Read” list that I’ve compiled over the years!
  • Eretz Yisrael (The Land of Israel): Like my supervisor Rachel Stern, I sometimes find the topic of Israel to be a complex issue to tackle. I try to read as much as I can, to be knowledgeable about the country, its political environment, and its place in the wider world … but given just how nuanced the topic of Israel is, I know there are definite gaps in my knowledge. Over the past few months, some coworkers and I decided to confront those gaps. We meet monthly to discuss and learn about a new aspect of Israel. I can’t wait to see what we learn in 2018!
  • Tzedakah (Righteous Giving/Justice): In Deuteronomy 16:18, the Torah commands us: ‘tzedek, tzedek, tirdof,’ or that ‘justice, justice shall [we] pursue.’ This commandment isn’t just meant for judges and priests, however. It’s a reminder that each and every one of us should work to make the world a better place. As 2018 approaches, I want to commit myself to the community that I live in. Whether that means volunteering at a local women’s health clinic, supporting the literacy efforts of the ISJL Community Engagement Department, or participating in interfaith dialogue opportunities, there is good work to be done, and I want to be a part of it.

2017 is rapidly coming to a close. With the secular New Year in sight, I’ve decided that these very Jewish resolutions are definitely worth making.

So now I’m the person asking: What are YOUR resolutions for the New Year?

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