A “Second” New Year

The start of a new year is a time to review, assess and plan. We review resolutions we made a year ago, reflect on how well we accomplished our goals and then wipe the slate clean, planning our list for the year to come. For Jews, the secular New Year is the perfect opportunity to do a first-quarter checkup on how well we are doing with the promises we made to ourselves on Yom Kippur.

Like financial plans, intentions to better ourselves are not meant to be static documents; rather, we should periodically assess, question and revise them. Were the goals we set for ourselves three months ago realistic? Have we or loved ones experienced unforeseen life events that need to be taken into account? Have we somehow gotten off track?

Maybe our goals and priorities have shifted. Maybe a relationship has taken on more meaning or a task more importance. Maybe our physical or mental health demands we change our habits. Maybe a new job requires us to adapt and retool.

Maybe the war in Israel and the rise of global anti-Semitism in 2014 have awakened in us a need to incorporate more Judaism and spirituality into our lives by studying Torah more often, committing to Shabbat observance or experimenting with Jewish cooking. Perhaps we are newly motivated to take steps to strengthen Israel by taking part in pro-Israel activities. Maybe we resolve to take an active role in tikkun olam by making a commitment to social justice.

Or maybe we conclude that we are on the right track and that our progress is on course.

Whichever conclusion we draw or steps we take, we are indeed lucky to have this “second” New Year, this three-month checkup.

This appeared in the Jewish Journal on January 1, 2015.

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