My Jewish Gratitude List Pt. I
Because there's no Mar in this Cheshvan!
I recently came across a challenge on social media where you write one thing you’re grateful for each day of the month of Cheshvan. I recently wrote a post about Cheshvan, because I had never heard of it before. I wrote how the month is known to be “bitter” since there are no holidays during this time. I didn’t mention how its full name is Marcheshvan, the mar meaning bitterness from the lack of holidays and/or for when Rachel died.
Because of this, the challenge is called #nomarinthischeshvan. Cute, right? And I love a gratitude list, something that has been scientifically proven to boost happiness, which I need during these increasingly cold months. It’s okay, I’m fine, really…
Cheshvan is almost over, but that didn’t stop me from making my own Jewish version of a gratitude list, five things in my Jewish life that get me all warm n’fuzzy inside when I think about them. Almost like I’m sipping on hazelnut Baileys infused hot cocoa and pretending I can sleep through the next five months instead of commuting in the frigid cold until I can’t feel my ears. Like I said, I’m fine…
I made it part 1 because there’s definitely going to be multiple parts to this list!
Being Jewish. Albie said it best. This first one’s kind of a cop out, but it’s true - I’m grateful for being Jewish. Not everyone has community like ours, full of rich history, fun holidays, and delicious nosh. I don't know where my life would have ended up had I not been born Jewish. I probably would have converted!
The victims - I mean people - I turn to when I have questions. I can’t say I have one Jewish mentor right now, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t have a LOAD of people I could bother with alllll my questions pertaining to halacha (Jewish law), Hebrew, Israel, you name it. I just had a conversation with someone I admire because I felt comfortable enough to ask her, “Hey, I’m going to have a conversation with someone about xyz that I want to feel ready for. Can you share some insight on it? What do you think about it? How does it play out in your life?” And she answers my questions non-judgmentally.
Online influencers/educators. May 2021 was a tough time to be a Jew. During the last Gaza war, when it seemed like the whole online world was against Israel and random Jews were being attacked in NYC, I felt really alone. The people keeping me afloat, unbeknownst to them, were the people that took to their screens to educate. That’s when I realized Jewish activism not only exists but is needed - we need representation too! And from intelligent, articulate people. Some of my favs (not just from then but in general) include @henmazzig, @rootsmetals, and @therealmelindastrauss.
The one time I called up a rabbi for advice on loss. Related to #2, this moment stands out in my mind. I lost my grandpa last year and was in the thick of a Jewish Fellowship. Not knowing how to mourn and honor him Jewishly but wanting to do something, I called up the Fellowship rabbi to ask what to do. We went over Judaism’s take on grief, who should say the mourner’s Kaddish in my family, giving tzedakah in my Pipa’s honor, and that I could dedicate my learning to him. This rabbi’s a busy guy, so I really appreciated him taking the time to drop whatever he was doing to pick up my phone call. It meant a lot.
The Shabbuddies. Years ago, I went on a Jewish trip to India with JDC Entwine. I met an adventurous gal. We hit it off and went to a Shabbat dinner back in the city, where we both met a quirky gal. Then adventurous gal said, “I think you two would like my friend.” She introduced us to a funny gal. And so, the four of us became Jewish Sex and the City (does that make me Miranda?). Since then, we’ve cooked Shabbat meals for each other, gave each other advice, and even studied Torah together. Every Friday since the beginning of Covid, we share our “roses,” or our highlights of the week. They are the beating heart of my Jewish life in the city, and I am forever grateful for them.
Like I said, more to come. So if you weren’t mentioned this time, don’t @ me. Shabbat Shalom and much love. x
Who is someone influential in your Jewish life for whom you are grateful? LMK in the comments or email me, and I might share them next week, just in time for Thanksgiving!
BONUS: If you are able, tell them you’re grateful for them. How did it go? How did it feel?
Speaking of Gratitude…
This article (The Jewish Gratitude Practice So Easy a 2-Year-Old Can Do It) just came out about the modeh ani, the morning prayer we say first thing in the morning, that thanks Gd for returning your soul back into you. It’s extremely short and easy to memorize. I mutter it every Saturday morning to myself on Shabbat morning. It’s another way of practicing gratitude and makes me feel grounded whenever I say it.