From the Rabbi - January 2016 Print
Often when I talk to non-Jewish audiences I mention an old line from the original Star Trek TV show.  In the show the young ensign Pavel Chekov, a proud Russian, would comment on almost anything and state, perhaps mistakenly but always with great pride, that “The Russians invented that!”  I often note that in the case of many of the things our non-Jewish neighbors take for granted as part of Christian or secular American tradition, the Jews “invented that”!

One such thing is the New Years resolution.  Every Rosh Hashanah we consider what we have done wrong in the past year and what we can do better in the coming year.  We are asked to commit to being better, more ethical people in the year to come and take advantage of the beginning of a new year and the opportunity to turn over a new leaf, to take a different direction in our lives.  But on Rosh Hashanah this aspect of the festival is perhaps overshadowed by the heavier and more daunting task of repentance that awaits us in the upcoming Ten Days of Repentance and on Yom Kippur.  
 
As we enter the secular New Year, we can perhaps take the opportunity to revisit the New Year resolutions from Rosh Hashanah that may have been lost under the weight of contemplating our repentance at Yom Kippur and then forgotten in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives in the months since.  The secular New Year has no weightier baggage to overwhelm us.  There are many distractions for certain.  But in the midst of all the light entertainment we can all take a little time to focus on something serious, to take stock of our ethical and spiritual opportunities for the New Year, to renew our commitment to obligations we have neglected and to work harder to become the people we want to be and should be.  
 
May we all have a 2016 filled with meaning, ethical growth and spiritual fulfillment.  Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy (secular) New Year.
 
Rabbi Ilan Emanuel