Year after year, at some point during the last week of December, I sit down with a notepad and a pen and write down around five, usually self-orientated, New Year’s resolutions.
Year after year, at some point during the first week of January, I lose my notepad, I forget about my resolutions, and I carry on living life as if they never happened.
Around five weeks ago, as I was stood in rainy Port Talbot, awaiting the arrival of my chanichim for the start of mifkad, I started to think about what I had achieved.
As I stood there and swayed through the kriot, trying my hardest to be attentive and smiley at 8:30 in the morning, after no more than 5 hours sleep, I couldn’t help but try and create a list of things I had done to positively affect the lives of other people… I could only come up with three.
That summer was my fifth year as a madricha, and only at that point did I realise that all three of my proudest achievements relate to my Habonim Dror experiences. The first would be the strong, independent and confident person that I have become throughout my seven years with the movement. I can’t explain why this happened, but I thank all of my madrichim and anyone who I have ever been on a tsevet with, allowing myself to gain strength, independence and confidence is something that could only have happened with encouragement from the people around me, and for that I am truly grateful.
The second would be the chanichim I have led on Rishonim and Sayarim, now starting their year as muchanim. To have watched them grow into such amazing, passionate people, and to spend machaneh admiring them as inspirational madrichim is truly amazing, and I wish that magical feeling of pride upon everyone.
My third achievement is strongly linked to the first and the second, and I only realised that I was a part of it this summer. To see the madrichim, who were my chanichim, teach to their chanichim, what I helped teach to them is incredible. Although I have spent my entire life, (at home and at school,) surrounded by teachers, and I have spent the past two years studying education myself, I have only just properly realised: teaching isn’t about giving information to people and hoping it registers somewhere, it’s about inspiring the people who we teach to become strong, independent and confident themselves, so that when their time comes around, they can teach the next generation exactly the same thing.
This year will be different. I will make my resolutions, like I do every year. However, this year, I will not sit with a notepad and pen, because if my resolutions are supposed to mean something to me, I shouldn’t have to write them down to remember them. This year I will not be creating my resolutions at the end of December, however, I will make them now at the end of Elul, the last few days before we reach Rosh Hashanah. This isn’t because I feel any more or less connected to my Judaism than I have done previously, but maybe this time around I can use my Judaism to create my resolutions for the better, which could help me to make sure I keep them. This year I will not make five, selfish resolutions, I will make three:
- To continue being the strong, independent and confident person that I am becoming more of every day.
- To continue watching my chanichim become these inspirational people that they are already becoming, and watching them enthuse the next generation.
- To teach, not just my chanichim from Habonim Dror, or the pupils I have in the classroom; but everyone around me.
Shana tova u’metuka
Wishing you all a sweet and meaningful new year!