It is easy to live our lives on autopilot. It is easy to just do what it takes to survive. For too many years, the Jewish people have been in survival mode. While survival might very well be a very important thing, it is far too low of a bar for a community to seek to reach.
We as a Jewish community need to come out of this COVID-19 pandemic with a new vision of what we want from our community and our religion. We all need to seek not to survive, but to thrive. That might sound simple, but it’s much more involved than we think. For far too many years we have worried about our numbers, our size, and about existential threats to our people.
With all these concerns we neglected to understand that quality must be more important than quantity. That depth must be more important than breadth. The Jewish people have an incredible gift, that we were either born into or chose to adopt as our own. Judaism is incredible, and it’s time that we look for more from our people than merely assurance that there will be a tomorrow.
This happens when we seize the opportunity of 5782 to re-invent ourselves as hungry. Hungry for ritual. Hungry for education. Hungry for depth. This happens when we seize the opportunity to do exactly what we need to do. Which is to never be content, and never be satisfied. We should always look to do more and more each day, each week, and each year.
In the words of the Torah, “It is not in heaven.” Deut. 30:12. All that we need is right in front of us. This can be the year when we are released from the contentment of the past, and embrace thriving in the future.
Rabbi Josh Hearshen is the rabbi of Congregation Or VeShalom in Brookhaven, GA.