There are certain times of the year that are more difficult for me than others. The six-week stint between January 1st and February 14th (my birthday) seems to be the darkest and the coldest. Is it the cold and the snow? Is it the darker days? Or is it the thought of being a year older? Or is it because within these weeks, I lost my beloved dad thirteen years ago?
Every year, I try more yoga, more breathing, more praying, more sleep, more healthy activities to overcome the darkness. But this stint of time, brings out sadness and reflection in me. How many of us have a date or season that make us sad, or brings out the darker recesses of our hearts?
I have realized that slowing down and being present to the sadness or whatever is going on inside can be beneficial. Sometimes we can’t struggle against the phase that we are in. If we embrace it as part of our emotional landscape, we can make it easier on our ourselves.
During these days, we are fortunate enough to have certain traditions that can help us through these times of reflection. Of course, we have the opportunity to say Kaddish for those we have lost, so we can gather together on Shabbat, hear the names of our loved ones read aloud. In the Kaddish prayer, we acknowledge God’s presence and power in our lives and recognize that there is hope.
When we celebrate times of happiness, we say the Shehecheyanu, which reminds us that while we have arrived at that moment in time, it is a moment that can continue to resonate throughout time.
In the cold, it can be hard to go anywhere. Last Friday, I led Shabbat worship with just a minyan. It was cold outside, but warm in the Chapel. We celebrated our member, Susan Zaslow’s 50th birthday by singing the Shehecheyanu, giving thanks to God for the gift of her life and for arriving at this moment in time, surrounded by her loved ones. Consider celebrating your birthday or anniversary with us to bring light to your blessings. We now live stream from our Chapel as well as our Sanctuary, so you can feel the warmth of Shabbat from home and share in the Simcha’s of others.
Join us this coming Shabbat, Friday, January 12th, at 8:00 p.m., we will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day through a special Shabbat. Rabbi Lance J. Sussman will offer a sermon on “What Would MLK Say About Racism Today.” Ross M. Levy and I will be singing songs of the Civil Rights movement. These songs will remind us that music can lift us to a higher spiritual place and move us to a greater purpose.
This year, I am finding more warmth in these 6 weeks being in our newly renovated Chapel, and I am so happy that more of our services will be held there throughout the winter. There is comfort and friendship within our community. Our stories are shared, and our tradition is there to lift us up, even in the darkest of days.