We are just fresh off of the 2016 Summer Olympics. The Olympics represent many different things for different people: pride, celebration, hard work, and success. Winning medals is not just all about an individual athlete’s solo performance during the Olympics itself, but about the time and effort spent training for that performance, and about the goals set, met, and surpassed.
Like the world’s Olympians who now have the opportunity to step back and evaluate their time in Rio, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, encourages us to reflect on the goals we set for ourselves last year to see if we met them, and to see where we can improve. The High Holiday is also akin to training for the Olympics. It is a time to think deeply and introspect, and see where we want to go from here. Establishing goals to work towards is the first step to getting where we want to go, both on an individual level and on a communal level.
As we celebrate and welcome the Hebrew year 5777, the Y, in the spirit of the holiday, begins to excitedly think of the months to come because the Western calendar year of 2017 holds special significance to the Y: it’s our centennial! Like the individuals who are reflecting on their past goals on a personal level, the agency reflects on its commitment to Tikkun Olam, “repairing the world.” Throughout the decades the agency has let this concept guide the direction of its goals. In the early years, assimilation was of the utmost importance for newly arrived immigrants, so the Y focused on English classes and citizenship tutoring. In the late eighties the agency recognized the need for safe housing for low income seniors and the mobility impaired, which lead to the ambitious goal of building the 100-unit Wien House. As the community’s needs evolve, so do the Y’s goals. But while the goals have changed over the years, they’ve all had the same aim of repairing the world by serving the needs of the community.
This Rosh Hoshanah, having looked back at what we’ve achieved in the preceding 100 years, we turn to what the next 100 may hold. Individually we have the power to accomplish enormous things: we can volunteer, give charity, or lend a helping hand to those in need. As a community, we can do so much more. As a community, we have the power to change lives and form powerful relationships.
So as we approach Rosh Hashanah, let’s come together as a community and set goals for ourselves, collectively and individually, that strive to make the world a better place. Let’s amp up our training to set and reach goals that far surpass anything we could have imagined.
We warmly invite you to join our Rosh Hashanah Family Celebration on Sunday, September 25 at the Y.
By Eliana Shields & Kita Lantman