2020. This year always seemed so far away, and now look, here we are!
My onramp to 2020 included a few trips:
Trip #1: I traveled to Chicago where I had the honor to present at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial conference. In a very larger gathering of about 5,000 people, it felt significant (and a bit subversive) to teach about the power of small groups and one-on-one dialogue.
I was also thrilled to hear the messages coming from the top leadership of the URJ. President Rabbi Rick Jacobs called on the Movement to keep expanding our metaphoric ‘Tent.’ He modeled how meeting the spiritual needs of our increasingly diverse community begins with really listening and learning about people’s lives.
VP Amy Asin asked: How can we start experimenting with change in a big way? She lifted up the importance of staying "laser focused on mission," taking risks, and intentionally disrupting our current models of Jewish communal life.
To my ears, and I hope to yours, it sounded like the largest movement of American Judaism was asking for more communities like Sanctuary. And that was a wonderful message to hear!
Trip #2: Two weeks later I was on the slopes of Butternut in Great Barrington, MA. My family loves to ski there over Christmas. It had been a quiet week, and then on Friday, the crowds descended. The beginner area was full of young children on skis for the very first time. It was quite a sight to see.
Still adjusting to the helmets and boots, children skied down the slope, embodying that fine line between control and chaos. They fell down, cried, and also smiled. Their form was not pretty, but inspiring: From head to toe, they modeled a willingness to take risks, embrace something entirely new, learn from others, and have a (mostly) great time while doing it. It felt like the ideal mindset for entering a new year and new decade.
Trip #3: One of our first adventures of 2020 was an outing to an actual movie theatre for a screening of Frozen 2. I went for my daughter, but I can’t stop thinking about the film. The creators took on so many contemporary issues! And the song I keep hearing on repeat in my head is entitled, Into the Unknown.
That feels like the theme song of 2020: We are heading into the unknown. We know the changes we need to make; we know what lies beyond our control; and we know how uncertainty can take hold.
In this year ahead, my hope is that we can embrace the blessing and challenge of the unknown:
Rabbi Bethie Miller writes periodic reflections on the state of our world and the Jewish project. She also writes about creative ideas for combining Jewish wisdom with our modern lives. Here are links to previous ones:
The Miracle of Chanukah (12/20/19)
To Be Jewish is To Be Grateful (12/2/19)
What I Learned During the High Holy Days (10/16/19)
New Year, New Project - Welcome to Sanctuary (10/3/19)