I just returned from attending a wonderfully energizing conference on Positive Aging. This was my 1st time at one of these sessions. The attendees were from all across the country and all, in some way, devoted to seeing our last third of life as empowering, exciting and filled with possibilities. There was very little gloom, doom and talk of deterioration. Everyone there knew all the statistics, had enough real life experience to know the issues surrounding life in our “third age”. In this way, this meeting was different. The “positive” aspect of life was present in every workshop, discussion and keynote. The menu of offerings encompassed the full range of experience. Again, the theme was seeing our future as an opportunity for growth.
I mention this theme because this coming weekend our community enters the month of Ellul, the final month before the High Holy Days. It is traditional to see, in Ellul, the beginning of the soul’s turning to consider the weighty themes of the Holidays. We prepare our selves for the coming period of reflection and introspection. I began to think about the linkage between the themes of the conference, the approach of thr Holidays and our own place in life. Many of us will find ourselves in deep reflection and thought about where we are in life, where we have come from and where we wish to go. A new year brings so many emotions. A new year marks the passage of time, and as we have alluded to here before, time is out of our control. With each passing year, we become more and more aware of time’s rush, and our inability to slow it down.
So, as the calendar turns to Ellul, I am hopeful that I and all of us can focus on the positive aspects of our own life, our own aging. Perhaps the themes of gratitude and humility can be welcomed into our thoughts. Perhaps we can focus on making each day of this coming new year count for something; to learn something new, to help somneone or something that is in need, to celebrate the quiet joys and victories that may have gone unrecognized in our youth. The positive aspect of this time of year within Judaism is that we are always reminded that we are being “called” by our tradition to make those choices between blessing and curse. It is time again to realize that those choices have never been more profound.
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.