When sitting down to write, I couldn’t help but wonder what the others who were given the privilege of contributing a New Year’s message would write. I don’t want to be redundant. Yes, not such a great year due to this pandemic, polar political differences, racial tensions, etc. I don’t need to remind anyone of these things; after all, we’re living it.
I try to be a positive person. Why dwell on the bad things when there is ALWAYS positives that come out of the negatives. Sometimes we have to dig deep, way deep, but they are there, and every moment is an opportunity to learn. Ahh, and that’s the beauty of a new year. Well it’s our new year, Rosh Hashana. A new beginning; a chance to have new perspectives and fresh knowledgeable views. Now that’s something to celebrate.
My mother had many expressions and as I grow, let’s just say “more mature,” they come back to me and their meanings and relevance resonate. One of her faves when she got older was “Every day you open your eyes is a good day” – how true. It’s what we do with the day, and how we appreciate the gift of life is what builds the framework of our lives in every situation.
We crawled, we walked and now we are running. Once isolated and secluded, we were forced to swim in unchartered waters. We learned to embrace technology. In fact, with technology we have remained connected to family and friends. We’ve even been able to be with, albeit virtually, people we would never have had the opportunity to see unless we traveled and had the resources to visit. A wonderful example of this is our Chesed Awards. This year, forced to be virtual, allowed grandparents, teachers, speakers from all over the country and beyond to attend and kvell. Even rabbis from Israel attended to honor these amazing trailblazing Atlanta students. Something positive that came out of what we first perceived would be a negative. We crawled through the unknown. We walked as we started exploring how technology could assist us. Finally, we ran with the wind blowing through our hair and a huge smile on our faces as an excellent program came to fruition beyond our wildest dreams. We overcame and found the good.
The world continues to spin and life goes on. There is work to be done. That doesn’t stop and it never will.
Tikkun olum mandates that we take care of the earth and its inhabitants. It is needed now probably more than ever in our lifetime. At Hadassah we are called the “Women Who Do.” Three simple words that don’t change, nor do the expectations of what we do. Pandemic be damned, we lobbied virtually and had letter campaigns to pass the No Hate bill. Our Young Women’s Network set up and continue to fill the Atlanta [Community] Food Bank to feed our community’s hungry through AmazonSmile, and of course your generosity… Our groups reach out to our over 3,500 members in and about Atlanta EVERY Shabbat to let them know they are not alone and are thought of even though we practice social distancing. We all need to reach out.
And although we worry about COVID-19, the illness and disease that was here before the virus still exist. That is why we still find ways to raise Awareness and funds for Research and Treatment of breast and ovarian cancers as well as many neurological diseases that affect us all in one way or another.
With all this said, it all comes back to how we handle things. Are we going to sit back in self-pity or are we going to grab this new year with purpose? Purpose is positivity. Let’s all roll up our sleeves, practice tikkun olum and perform chesed, acts of goodness. COVID-19 won’t last forever, but the effects of what we do and how we handle things will.
From my family to yours, L’shana tovah!
Michele Merbaum is president of Hadassah Greater Atlanta.