A Rabbi’s Resolution: Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

by Rabbi Neil Hirsch

I want to share a secular New Year’s resolution that I am making: This year, I am going to celebrate more often with my congregation.

Perhaps it is unusual for a rabbi to make such a public secular resolution, when we are better accustomed to teaching the importance of serious, deep Cheshbon HaNefesh (soulful accounting) during our High Holy Days season. Still, I find it powerful to use this secular date to mark a change I am looking to make.

So in 2013 and beyond, I want to celebrate together more often. But how are we to make this happen in our communities? We are called upon to lift up significant moments through ritual. This year, let’s pick milestones reached and accomplishments made, and let’s go public with them. Even better, let’s pick times that are beyond the predictable and the plan-full.

In our community, many of those moments occur in the lives of our young people. When I think about celebrations, our young people constantly give us reasons to ritualize the small, joyous occasions. The other day, my confirmation students were telling me all about their drivers’ ed program. When they receive their licenses, I will be there to offer a prayer for safe travels. Last week, a fifth grader celebrated her beautiful smile, as she had her braces finally taken off. Our young people’s milestones come often and are important. These are times when their Jewish community and their Jewish leaders should be telling them that they are special, that they are loved, that they have gifts to give to their community, and that they are a blessing on all of us.

In 2013, I resolve to help our young people feel that significance through ritual. In 2013, I resolve to celebrate.

Rabbi Neil Hirsch serves Temple Shalom of Newton in Newton, MA.