Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully next year?
An inspirational person doesn’t have to be a role model. Just because you look up to President Obama doesn’t necessarily mean you want to be president one day. On the other hand, reading about lives remarkably different than our own can lead to inspiration, wonder, or simply the knowledge that people are doing different, and amazing, things with their lives, all over the world.
Here are a few of our favorites:
This Czech writer may have been the weirdest writer of all time. Notoriously antisocial, and possibly a megalomaniac, he nonetheless emerged with a body of work that included everything from science fiction to fables.
Jewish women such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem were pioneers of the modern feminist movement
. They were inspirations to Blu Greenberg, an Orthodox Jewish feminist
who’s raising awareness–and changing the Orthodox world from the inside out. As an Orthodox Jew herself, she’s both an activist and a participant in the culture.
The world that Gershom Scholem was born into in 1897 was one that had almost completely forgotten about Jewish mysticism
. He almost single-handedly revived the study of Kabbalah
outside insular Hasidic
circles–simply because he loved the subject and couldn’t find any existing information on it.
A Bombay-based artist descended from the Bene Israel
Jews of India, Benjamin pieces together her heritage and her history through creating art. Both a historian of painting and a contemporary painter, she’s informed by her history at the same time that she’s adding to it.
A comedic precursor to Jerry Seinfeld
, Gilda Radner
, and Larry David
, Fanny Brice affected a Yiddish accent to appear more stereotypically Jewish–and used her assumed persona to rise to the top of the Ziegfield Follies and the entertainment industry in 1920s America.
Of course it’s easy to pick the original great Jewish leader, but there are tremendous reasons why. He’s been all over the place. His life story catches him at both his greatest and worst–a murderer
who killed impulsively to protect the powerless, and a mystic whose intimacy with the Divine led him to fighting with God. Moses’ striking of a rock
to get water, instead of speaking to it, was his ultimate downfall. The most powerful of the Children of Israel was brought down by his own vice of anger.
is a national project that asks people to answer a question a day online for 10 days during the
. It offers a new way for Jews and people of all backgrounds to slow down and reflect. Answers are emailed to a secure online vault just after
; next year, just before
starts, answers are sent back to participants and the whole process begins again.