New year’s resolutions

Seven ideas for a satisfying 5783

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We Members of the Tribe get the chance to reset every fall as the shofar sounds a wakeup call in each of our lives. And since the start of the pandemic, we've had even more profound moments to reflect and take stock.

In the new Jewish year and school year ahead, many of us will finally settle back to a new normal. While COVID still feels like the pandemic that just won't quit, it also isn't dominating our lives, for the majority of us, in the same way it had these past couple years.

And now we're presented with an opportunity--to pick and choose what to take away from these strange pandemic years: We can quit some of the more isolating parts of pandemic life, while maintaining some of the "silver linings"--like family dinners and the hybrid work week for those of us fortunate enough to have that flexibility.

Below are my resolutions for the new year--5783--with the benefit of COVID hindsight.  Maybe some of them will resonate with you, too.

Break out the folding chairs. When I moved to Chicago two decades ago, I'll never forget the first time someone invited me to her home for a Chanukah party. I barely knew the hostess, but her invitation meant so much to me. It was then that I promised myself that once I got settled and found my "people," I'd invite new people to my own parties, whether hosting a Shabbat dinner or a Yom Kippur break-the-fast. Now, with loneliness and depression skyrocketing since the start of the pandemic, making more room at the table is a bigger mitzvah than ever before. 

Nurture the bonds between my girls & their grandparents. I was blessed to have three grandparents until I was 30, and two into my late 30s. I cherish my memories with each of them--from painting with my grandpa, to doing the New York Times crossword with my grandma to learning how to make salmon patties and split pea soup with my other grandma. And now, I'm striving to help my daughters foster beautiful rituals and memories with their own grandparents.

Date my husband. Between the pandemic and having two babies since 2019, we've ventured out on only a handful of dates since my older daughter was born. This year, I plan to leverage the cheap babysitting rates of the aforementioned grandparents, and spend some Saturday evenings out with my husband--sans Elsa, Corduroy, and the Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Say 'yes' to the hora . We've postponed many simchas over the last few years--and relegated others to virtual celebrations. One of the things I missed most about in-person Jewish weddings and b'nai mitzvahs was dancing, especially circling up for a rousing hora . For all the horas that didn't happen during the pandemic, when we get the chance, let's dance in 5783.

Play more, text less. We already have a no-phone rule at the dinner table. But I'm trying to be more intentional about leaving my device in another room when I'm hanging out with my daughters... Except to take videos and photos of the girls; and to facilitate FaceTime with relatives; And to play Lady Gaga, the girls' favorite singer; and to show them what dolphins and igloos look like--or whatever else they ask me about.

Set boundaries. This is a toughie. During COVID, our work/life balance vanished--along with our social lives. If a colleague sends me a non-urgent email at 10 o'clock at night, I give myself permission to wait until the next workday to respond. Just because we're technologically able to work 24/7 doesn't mean we should. 

Heed the blessings. There is way too much heartache in the world, but we're surrounded by countless blessings, too.  "Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement," said Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. "Get up every morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed." I strive to get up every morning with Heschel's words in mind. And when I go to bed each night, I'll remind myself of at least one blessing from the day.

Wishing each of you a sweet new year filled with abundant blessings. 

Got a resolution of your own for 5783? Let me know at Editor@juf.org .


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