2018-01-03 / Editorial

2018, the year of Chai, offers opportunities and challenges

Welcome to 2018! As Jews, it seems very appropriate to start the year with high hopes as well as a strong resolve to contribute our part, however small, to making our world a better place.

As anyone who has ever written a check on the occasion of a Jewish simcha knows, the use of a multiple of $18 is a joyful expression of “l’chaim,” or “to life!” The number 18, or “Chai” symbolizes the value of life and the hope that sustains it. Therefore 2018 is a full calendar year reminder to live our lives with purpose and as a blessing.

In South Jersey and beyond, we have much to look forward to and much work to do to live up to in this Chai year.

A wonderful opportunity to start off right is through participation in the fifth annual Community Mitzvah Day. Corresponding with the national Martin Luther King Day holiday on Jan. 15, the day’s events provide community-building projects from baking dog biscuits to visits to nursing homes as well as numerous food, clothing collections and sortings as well as blood drives. Numerous synagogues and communal groups are participating and all are welcome, regardless of affiliation.

As Temple Emanuel Rabbi Jerry David, one of the organizers of Community Mizvah Day, told the Voice: “We hope to send out a message that we are all in this together to help repair a broken world.”

As our tradition teaches: “You are not obligated to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it” (Pirke Avot 2:21) This is a call to action and a rejection of apathy, even when the task at hand seems overwhelming.

So yes, there is much to fix in the world in 2018. But that is no reason not to be optimistic. And so we say l’chaim! Here’s to the blessings and an opportunity that life offers in the New Year! 

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