A Good and Healthy New Year

by Arliene Botnick, August 27, 2020

A year like no other! As we enter 5781, our tradition says we should greet one another with L’Shanah Tovah – a good New Year. Often, we add “Umetukah,” a sweet New Year. Other greetings are often to a healthy New Year, prosperous, better New Year.

And all the more so do these words of greeting resonate this year. For the past 6 months, we have experienced what none of us has ever experienced – a pandemic. Our lives have been reconfigured, our health has (and is) being threatened, our jobs are in peril, and a cloud of the unknown hovers over us.

So, how do we begin a New Year that should be filled with optimism, hope, and faith. I’d like to suggest another cloud that shadowed over our people some 3000 years ago, God’s cloud that shadowed, protected, guarded our people on our Exodus of Egypt. One can only imagine the fears, the anxiety, the unknown as some 400,000 fled the only home they had known (as bad as it was) for the previous 400 years, to traverse a desert surrounded by enemies to reach a land that they really did not know. And they got there – some were lost, some were rebellious, some were faithful. But the promised land was reached and our people began a whole new life in the land of milk and honey.

Our journey through COVID is fraught with perils. Face masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer are there to help us. Some of us are overwhelmed, yearning for what was. But that can no longer exist. We will reach our destination. This pandemic will end (hopefully long before 40 years have elapsed) and we will enter a new way to live. Some of the rules that have been imposed during COVID will perhaps continue to be guidelines for living, but the goal is to live.

God promised us freedom, a land; God gave us a covenant, the Brit. God’s cloud protected and shielded us and our part was to be God’s partner in this covenant.

Therefore, let us be God’s partner. Let us care for one another by protecting not only ourselves but by protecting all from spreading the virus. Early in our Torah, Cain asks “Am I my brother’s (sister’s) keeper” and we know the answer!

Let us begin the New Year aware of what we have learned these past 6 months, ready to do all that we can to care for one another and hopefully see the cloud of faith, of God’s love, over us, guiding us, caring for us.

L’Shanah Tovah Umetukah!

Filed under: Educator's Message

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