New Years - A Chance to Pause and Reflect


I have always loved reading, but often have trouble making the time to do it. So, back in January, I set a goal for this year to read at least a book a month. As December draws to a close, I am now reviewing my Good Reads account and scrolling through a list of top books from 2020, to check the ones off that I read. I am proud that over this past year I have read some books that brought me pleasure, some that made me think, some that taught me to see the world through a new perspective, and some that made me laugh. And yes, I did even surpass my 12 book goal!


I love having a chance to pause and reflect on the past year and I enjoy looking forward as we approach a fresh new year. I start a new planner, I write resolutions, I check in with myself on my goals and accomplishments from the past year. I also use some much-needed quiet time to reach out and check in with friends with whom I wish I was doing a better job of keeping in touch.


I go through a similar process, however, on a slightly more spiritual level, each year at Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah, which literally translates to “the head of the year,” falls each year on the Hebrew date of the 1st of Tishrei. On this day, we mark the anniversary of creation. We have a chance to pause from our daily lives and begin the process of reflecting and checking in with ourselves – thinking about the times we succeeded, and the times we missed the mark. Taking stock of the things we hope to do better in the coming year and letting go of the things that have been holding us back from our full potential.


While most of us are familiar with Rosh Hashanah being known as the “Jewish New Year”, you may not know that there are also two other Jewish New Year Celebrations. Our second Jewish new year falls on the 15th of Shevat and marks the new year for trees. On this holiday, Tu Bishevat, we often eat various kinds of fruits. Some Jews have a seder, others use this day to plant trees or engage in learning and advocacy around environmental awareness. Our third new year falls on the 1st of Nisan. This new year corresponds with the holiday of Passover, a time where we celebrate redemption and the birth of the Israelite nation.


I am struck by how fortunate we are, as Jews, to have multiple opportunities throughout the year to renew ourselves. Four opportunities to pause, look back, and look ahead. My challenge to you all for 2021 is to find ways to always better yourselves, not just by making resolutions once a year. This year, perhaps more than any other, I know that many of us are excited to move forward and begin anew. I wish each of you a 2021 full of health and happiness.


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Mandy Herlich, RJE

Director of ECRS

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