In the words of an old country song, “Everybody wants to go Heaven, but nobody wants to go now.” For all of our well-validated concerns of a dangerous world, nobody wants to go to Heaven just yet. The world seems “unformed and void, darkness over the deep,” but the verse in Genesis continues, “the spirit of God hovers over the waters.” There is light, not at the end of the tunnel, but just one verse away.
After all, we live in a Jewish community of vast and eager goodness, ripe with financial and spiritual generosity. For all the disconnection and alienation, there are Jewish schools, here and in Israel, that can put a loving tear in your eye at the excitement within. For all the critiques of the IDF, there is the radiance of young New Yorkers who went from high schools here to khaki there, for no reason other than the love of our people and love of the land. Imagine how Israel’s soul and strength of the past year would have delighted our vulnerable ancestors of just a century ago. If we learned anything this past year, it was that we loved each other even more than we supposed.
However gloomy the headlines may be, this was a year of Jews of all ages falling in love, like every year, with weddings and other celebrations. This past year, and next year surely, will be one of remarkable volunteering in our synagogues and social agencies. We are living in communities filled with music, art and a seemingly insatiable quest for knowledge. Even if our Shabbat tables are filled with debate, well, Steinbeck’s Ma Joad took solace in the sight of “Okies” not giving into sour headlines, depression and dust but being defiant, talking, planning, figuring, thinking out loud, being closer to salvation if only by not succumbing to silence and resignation.
This past year was sweeter than the headlines supposed. May we all find ourselves blessed on this Rosh HaShanah, and may the love that blossomed among us continue to grow, and be reflected in love from above.