January 2, 2024

As you might expect, I interact with a lot of people. It just comes with my position and the fact that I try to be “out and about” as much as possible. Over the last couple of months, these interactions have taken a bit of a turn, depending on whether I am talking with Jews or non-Jews.


After a quick hello, I almost always ask, “How are you?” This innocuous question, which so many of us use, has taken on an entirely new meaning for many in our community following October 7. Let me rephrase this… this question has added weight for many Jews in our community. Between the rise of antisemitism, dealing with the loss of feeling secure within our Jewish institutions, confronting the challenges following the attack in Israel, and the subsequent fallout around the world towards Israel and Israel’s proxies (us), the question is now much more loaded than it ever was.


And yet, while we grapple with ALL of this, both as individuals and as a community, we must remember that WE ARE STILL HERE.


From the impending Presidential election and the ongoing divisiveness to the current climate surrounding the events in Israel, including their impact on college and university campuses and many other unknown events, 2024 will be a year unlike any we have ever seen or experienced.


What I think is imperative that each of us remember are two life lessons my wife and I have worked hard to teach our daughters – we cannot control other people’s actions, only our own, and there are consequences for our actions.


We often forget about each of these as we watch and experience all that is happening in the world around us. We get caught up in laying blame on what other people are doing instead of taking a look at what we are doing. By no means am I saying that we should not call out or bring attention to things we believe are wrong in society. However, we do need to closely examine (and take ownership of) how our actions may contribute to the problem. Or better still, hold ourselves accountable for not doing more to effect the change we feel needs to be made.


Last week, my family and I saw MJ the Musical at Pantages. (By the way, I HIGHLY recommend seeing it!) As I sat and watched the actors on stage, listened to the lyrics of the songs, and marveled at the unbelievable dancing, I was reminded of Michael Jackson’s brilliance.


In “Man in the Mirror,” one of his many iconic songs, Jackson addressed this ideal in the following lyrics – if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change. And often, when performing this, Jackson would often end the song with the words ‘Make that Change,’ a plea – his plea – to an ailing world.


Let’s do our part in 2024 and do what we can to bring about the change we feel is needed as we grapple with the challenges ahead. Happy New Year!


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