The kinds of resolutions we make for the secular new year generally tend to be different than our pledges for the year to come on Rosh Hashanah. As we head into a new year on the Jewish calendar, we enter into a period of self-reflection, repentance, and, if we do it right, spiritual contemplation leading to improved behavior toward one another and in the eyes of God.
In contrast, the resolutions many of us make on Jan. 1 tend to be more focused on the physical world: eating better, exercising more, aiming for eight hours of sleep each night.
Now that we are at the dawn of 2021, coming off a year that few are sorry to see pass, we might be well-served to fashion a different sort of resolution for the year to come.
We are hopeful that 2021, and the COVID-19 vaccines it brings, will end the deaths and societal upheaval caused by the pandemic. But as difficult as 2020 was for so many of us, there are certainly valuable lessons to be had that we can resolve to incorporate into our lives moving forward.
Family: Many of us have been separated from our parents, our children and other family members for months. Others, tragically, have had to bury loved ones this year — and without the traditional communal support of in-person shiva visits. Some of us were fortunate to shelter-in-place this year with family members and to realize how much we love being together. When the world opens up again, let us resolve to prioritize our family, to say “I love you” as often as we can, and to never miss an opportunity to bestow a hug or a kind touch.
Friends: It has been a long time since we have been able to safely gather in person with our friends. Phone calls and Zoom visits have helped keep us socially connected, but they are a poor substitute for being together physically in the same space. Let us resolve to not take our friendships for granted, to make the effort to meet for coffee or dinner or walks, and to tell our friends how much we treasure them.
Communal organizations: Our network of Jewish communal institutions has been there for us during these dark days. Counseling, meals-to-go, child care, calls to the elderly and infirm, blood drives, and, yes, even providing information and connection through this newspaper. Our Jewish organizational network would not have been able to maintain these services in this heightened time of need if they had not had the funds and manpower to do so. Let us resolve to continue to support these organizations through donations or volunteering.
The arts: For many of us, the pandemic would have been much more difficult to weather had it not been for books, music, virtual museum visits and television. If there was ever any question whether the arts are an “essential” service, COVID-19 decisively put it to rest. Our theaters and music venues have been dark since last March. When they again open, let’s fill their seats.
It’s been a rough year. We got through it. Here’s to a better 2021. PJC