On Beginning a New Year with the Future in Mind

By Hazzan Alisa Pomerantz-Boro

During the month of Elul, just prior to the High Holy Days, we spend extra time thinking about our goals, hopes and dreams. Around that same time in 2018, my day began with a devastating phone call. One of my dear colleagues had suffered a heart attack and died. He was not ill. He was in the middle of a typical workweek, not expecting to leave unfinished business. I imagine, like many of us, he probably had lists of tasks to accomplish. I would venture to guess that he had stacks of work on his desk. Piles to get through. E-mails to answer. Phone calls to return. Appointments lined up. Torah readings to fill. B’nai Mitzvah students, wedding couples, and hospital visits on his endless list. He left this world unexpectedly. Unplanned. Unfinished.

At his funeral, his shul was overflowing with standing room capacity, opened up with High Holiday seating, filled with so many loving tributes. I was struck by how his inner qualities were praised; his giving soul, his inspirational teaching, his moving voice, his kindness, and his passion.   

As I listened, I began to wonder. How many of us live our lives as if each day was our last? Are we living the way we want to be remembered? Are we living our personal legacy? Will we leave behind meaningful memories? Are we truly making a difference? Are we being our best selves? Are we allowing others to see deep into our inner selves and are we finding the inner beauty in them?  Are we telling them while they are alive?

As an organization within the Masorti/Conservative movement, the Cantors Assembly spreads a mission to inspire and spiritually uplift others and help them find their voice. Much like Women’s League, we are grateful for our ability to bring people closer to the Jewish community. And, as the authentic voice of Jewish worship, we serve as a living bridge – spanning generations past, present, and future, so that all ages may come together and forge profound and lasting connections with each other and with God. We believe that every soul deserves a voice. As we continue to learn, to grow and transform, I pray that we each maximize our unique gifts to be a blessing.

We do not always have a choice in what happens to us, but we can choose how we take action following loss. This can take the form of expressing gratitude. Staying passionate. Reaching out to others. Remember, a smile and a positive attitude can make a difference. We have the ability to increase holiness and blessing in every moment and in every encounter!

On behalf of your community Hazzan, and the Cantors Assembly officers, professional staff, and our entire membership, may you and all of your loved ones have many more years of health and blessing, meaning, wisdom, and love!

Hazzan Alisa Pomerantz-Boro is the President of the Cantors Assembly and the Hazzan at Congregation Beth El in Voorhees, NJ.

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