This past labor Day weekend, also known as the B’nai Mitzvah of Miles and Janis Goldstein, created the perfect week for reflections. These two had chosen to spend a lot of time studying and preparing to become adults in the eyes of Judaism. What struck so many of us was the depth of their interpretation of their Torah (Old testament) portions .
Miles eloquently suggested, “Hard work is good, good work is the best”. During these days of awe, when the Jewish Community reflects on this past year, perhaps we should ask, did we do hard work, did we make work hard or did we work hard to do good work?
Janis chose to reflect on the past year which was full of flood water and loss, loss of the tangible and the unimaginable, a parent. Her humor and sincerity brought us to full attention. Her words “Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, G-d,” were humbling. She was brave to suggest so much with this statement referring to the absence of G-d in our daily lives. She concluded by speaking words that were full of gratitude for what life has given her. Her reflection on loss and if we are open to gratitude a newness unfolds, was refreshing in so many ways. After all, Janis is no longer 13 rather the parent of Miles and as such she has also said, at any age, change of heart is possible and helpful in the healing process.
For each of us, Jewish or not, the past year has been full of tragedy, heartbreak, anger, politics, media images of refugees, friends and family battling illnesses, troubled children and so much more. The question posed by Miles, did we work hard to do good in each situation we saw as troubling and the sound advice of gratitude as the solution spoken by Janis created the perfect equation for reflection, repentance and a fresh New Year.
May these days of reflection be full of awe for the minutia that we take for granted, the magnitude of good that we fail to see and the ability to open our hearts and fill it with the lessons of a G-d that teach us to love deeply and more often. Miles and Janis, thank you for the reminders that matter.