The Jewish calendar situation this year is unique. In fact, it has not occurred since 1899 and will only occur once more. Ever.
Now that Hanukkah and Christmas are over and we are wishing "Happy New Year" to everyone we see, when is, or when was, the proper time to take down holiday decorations? There are several answers to this question, depending on what one means by "holiday" decorations.
And so here we are, on the eve of the New Year -- a year that will be all about saying goodbye to the old way of doing things and hello to our new stage of life. A year in which I need to accept that the traditions that revolved around my children can evolve and yet still be meaningful and intimate.
Thankfully, the Mayans were wrong and as we gracefully approach 2013, we will face many new beginnings to talk and write about. In addition, holiday time is a natural time to reflect on our past and what brought us to where we are now.
How we read and approach the stories of others is all-important. How can we interpret with a reflective heart? We can simultaneously celebrate our own traditions and welcome the beauty of those of others.
The miracles we choose to retell shape our sense of what is possible. We owe it to our children to tell and retell the glowing stories of cooperation between Muslims and Jews on college campuses.
In this light all barriers melt and we remember our essential interconnectedness. In this light we notice that there is no such thing as the Other.
Brandeis' identity presents challenges: How can the school celebrate its Jewish roots and accommodate its large Jewish population while still being inclusive and welcoming to all of its students? I would be lying if I said we never experience awkwardness as we try to strike a balance.
As the boys were all running around, the other child told my son, You better behave, Santa is watching." Without missing a beat, he answered, "Nah, he doesn't watch me because I'm Jewish!"
We cannot change the past. We cannot bring back to life a single murdered child. But all of us, regardless of party affiliation or political orientation, can and must do everything in our collective power to stop the carnage of our children in the future.
It's the season for baking holiday cookies for the endless family gatherings, and there's no harm in sneaking some for yourself (in the name of quality assurance, of course).
For many gay people, spending the holidays with their families is an uncomfortable, nerve-wracking experience that means repressing their true selves to avoid conflict, taking a step backward on the path to self-acceptance they fought so hard to forge.
The plight of a group that has been systematically oppressed resonates with us as Jews. As descendants of the Maccabees, we empathize with the excitement about and importance of maintaining and reclaiming a national and communal identity.
What do we do now in the face of tragedy? Though Joseph may have, we do not need to have capacity to forgive; that can be for some other time. Right now we need to build our capacity for light, for hope and for strength, slowly, one candle at a time.
We must not wait around for miracles. Only we can counteract the evils in our world. Only we can impart upon our children a vision of light, of hope for the future, and pray for them to find a way to actualize that dream.
Having spent this week celebrating light during this Season of Light, we now are called upon to be face to face with a darkness that also runs deep. We are beset with the lingering fears and heartbreak that will be imprinted by this terror. How can we turn once more to the light?