Re­solve and res­o­lu­tions

The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - • By DAVID GEFFEN

The count of days fore­tells the count­ing of the last few sec­onds be­fore the “ball” falls and it is 2019. We should seek to turn our bless­ing of life into a life of ac­tion and ac­tiv­ity as we dream of what we hope to ac­com­plish in the com­ing year and all the years to come. As we do all of this to our best abil­ity, we say she­he­heyanu, vekiye­manu, ve­hi­gianu laz­man hazeh, in grat­i­tude for hav­ing been pre­served un­til now.

A poem struck me re­cently: “Take the time to en­joy those near you/ Al­ways stay pos­i­tive, never be blue/ The im­por­tant things in life are never theirs/ It is the re­la­tion­ships we have and the love they bring.”

On the night of my grad­u­a­tion from Henry Grady High School, I par­tic­i­pated in a rit­ual that was in vogue then in 1955 At­lanta. After all the cer­e­monies, in­clud­ing the singing of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” we all went to the grad­u­a­tion ball, after which came the rit­ual of stay­ing up all night and watch­ing the dawn break. Most of us, in­clud­ing my­self, had never ex­cit­edly met the ris­ing sun. Where the strength to keep awake came from I do not know, but I suc­ceeded in stay­ing up along with my class­mates.

Is stay­ing up all night a sign of ma­tu­rity? I re­ally don’t know. After all these years, what it now means for me, and hope­fully for you, is that what­ever we re­solve we can ac­com­plish. For some it meant go­ing to col­lege and be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional in the field we chose. To­day, for some, it means trav­el­ing around the world, ex­pand­ing our vi­sion for all the years to come. In Is­rael, it means en­ter­ing the army, to be schooled in the abil­ity to pro­tect our na­tion.

What­ever road you take, de­velop the pas­sion to make all the days of your life mean­ing­ful. And raise your chil­dren so they too can have their own path to tread.

The noted au­thor Ellen Good­man wrote: “We spend Jan­uary 1 walk­ing through our lives, room by room, draw­ing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to bal­ance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives, not look­ing for flaws but for po­ten­tial. Never for­get to thank your past years, be­cause they have en­abled you to ar­rive at this junc­tion. With­out the stairs of the past, you can­not ar­rive at the fu­ture. What does each of us need in the New Year? You need a dream. Try to trans­form that dream into re­al­ity.”

Here in Is­rael there are three Amer­i­cans by birth – friends for over 50 years – and two who have been rel­a­tives for that same pe­riod of time. They have ac­com­plished what few other im­mi­grants have.

One, Judge Steve Adler, mar­ried our cousin Ruth Ziff Adler and made aliyah in the late 1960s. Over the years, Steve rose to be­come the first Amer­i­can-Is­raeli cho­sen as pres­i­dent of Is­rael’s Na­tional La­bor Court.

A se­cond, Prof. Shamma Fried­man, is a na­tive of Philadel­phia, “the cra­dle of lib­erty.” Through his stud­ies and in­ge­nu­ity, Shamma has de­vel­oped a hitech pro­gram that placed all ver­sions of the Tal­mud side-by-side so they can be stud­ied to weave to­gether a more ac­cu­rate text of the hu­man-made code that is the ba­sis of Jew­ish law. For his achieve­ment he was awarded the high­est honor of our na­tion: the Is­rael Prize. Many peo­ple now study the tal­mu­dic text that he de­vel­oped.

The third, who just cel­e­brated his 80th birth­day, is Prof. Aaron Dem­sky, a his­to­rian of the bib­li­cal pe­riod and a pi­o­neer in the study of Jew­ish names. In the 1960s, when we were in school to­gether at the Jew­ish The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary of Amer­ica, I wit­nessed Aaron first hon­ing his bib­li­cal and He­brew skills. In 1965, after grad­u­a­tion, Aaron and his wife moved to Is­rael, where he earned his doc­tor­ate and be­gan to teach at Bar-Ilan Uni­ver­sity. He was a most pro­lific au­thor in both He­brew and English. A few years ago, he was awarded the Bia­lik Prize of Tel Aviv, the high­est honor given for au­thor­ing a vol­ume in He­brew.

Few of us know the back­ground of these in­di­vid­u­als un­less we Google them. What we can see is how they ma­tured and grew. All of us now and in gen­er­a­tions to come can ben­e­fit from what they have given to us. Early in their lives they com­mit­ted them­selves to suc­ceed and be “ground-break­ers.” How for­tu­nate that they live in our age so we can be liv­ing wit­nesses to their achieve­ments.

Ev­ery New Year of the civil cal­en­dar, and ev­ery Rosh Hashanah, calls out to us: “Make this year a most fruit­ful one.” The dic­tio­nary tells us that “fruit­ful” has a va­ri­ety of mean­ings. The best-known is “pro­duc­ing much fruit, be­ing fer­tile.” An­other is “pro­duc­ing good re­sults, pro­duc­tive.” In more hu­man terms, it also means “pro­duc­ing off­spring.”

Then there is see­ing “the re­sult or re­ward of work or ac­tiv­ity.” God said to our an­ces­tors, pru urevu, “be fruit­ful and mul­ti­ply.” What a great mo­ment it is for us as we open the door to 2019. What­ever hap­pens, and a great deal should, is largely up to us. May all of you have Hashem’s bless­ings in the year to come. ■

What­ever road you take, de­velop the pas­sion to make all the days of your life mean­ing­ful


FIRE­WORKS EX­PLODE in cel­e­bra­tion of New Year’s Day on Jan­uary 1, 2018, over the tow­ers of the St. Vi­tus Cathe­dral at Prague Cas­tle.

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