Voices for WRJ: Parashat Sh’mot

by Adrian Modansky

Good wishes for a healthy and happy 2013! Aren’t we fortunate to be able to celebrate two new years? We have the opportunity to make two new beginnings!

We start each New Year with a sense of anticipation.  On Rosh Hashanah, we look to clean the slate for the New Year, asking for forgiveness for the sins of the past year. For the next 10 days, we actively show God that we are remorseful and look to Adonai’s good grace to start the New Year. On the secular New Year, we look for another beginning. Many people make resolutions to do things better. Let’s set goals we actually want to work toward. Chances are if we are excited about making a change, we just might do it. This can be something as simple as losing weight or doing more to support charitable efforts.

What is the major difference between the Jewish New Year celebration of Rosh Hashanah (running through Yom Kippur) and the secular celebration on December 31 as the clock strikes midnight? Is it the deep spiritual rebirth that we experience on Rosh Hashanah? The Jewish people are very fortunate to have this time of year. We can step back and look at what we did over the previous year and make amends for the sins of that year. We start by asking for forgiveness and saying that if written into the book of life, we will make the New Year a better year for those we know and possibly for those we do not. A central theme of the Jewish New Year celebration is to gather family together to share this special time of renewal.

The secular New Year celebration leans toward being with friends. The main focus is, where will we eat, who are we partying with and where will we be at midnight? This is a social holiday. The celebration is strictly to bring in the new calendar year. When we make our resolutions for the secular New Year we look forward with hope for changes in our personal life.

As we are now starting the second quarter of the Jewish year, we can hope that the changes we have made will better our existence. With the start of the secular New Year upon us, may all of your New Year’s resolutions come to be and may you share your good fortune with those you care for.

Adrian Modansky is a WRJ Board Member and member of Temple Beth El in Spring Valley, NY.