I do not know about you, but the secular new year never really did it for me. When we were younger, like high school and college, it sort of was a kind of forced fun evening. An excuse to spend too much money for food or entertainment that, a few hours later, seemed silly. And lets not forget those horrible high school years when the pressure of who the date would be could start as early as October. No, never was a big fan of New Years Eve. Jewish New Year always was focused on family when I was younger and, once in college and then seminary, doing services.It was work. The secular year, well, has become more of a quiet night, often with friends, hanging out grazing on finger food and opening a good bottle of champagne as the ball dropped. And often, the aftermath tinged with a little sense of nostalgia and sadness.
I mention that because for some of us the turning of the secular calendar year comes with mixed emotions. Social convention makes a big deal of making “resolutions” (usually broken by February). Yet, there is a sense as we get a little older of the acceleration of time. Now that is something to discuss and think about. I do not know about you, but as each year passes, time seems to speed up. Maybe it is our sub-conscious awareness of our own mortality that is sending us the message that we need to be grateful for our blessings and to savor the moment. Certainly our tradition reminds us that we do our self a favor by living for the now, that we cannot re-do the past and, as many of us know, can we really create what will happen to us in the future. There’s that randomness aspect of life again, an aspect of life that seems to be more present than ever.
I guess what we are reminded of as this new year of 2016 dawns on us is that what really means something to each of us are those simple things; family, friends; our relationships and finding something that gives us pleasure and meaning. The world seems bent on raising lunacy to new levels and so maybe the message for us Boomers is to celebrate the blessings that we have, embrace the families that surround us and try to find a sense of meaning and purpose “as time goes by”!
I wish you and yours a sweet and healthy 2016.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.