The holidays were early this year and then we have had a month off during Cheshvan. However, the month of Kislev is beginning and we have Thanksgiving and Hanukkah on top of each other. The Jewish calendar gives us so many opportunities for celebration: yearly holidays, special life cycle events, Rosh Chodesh each month, weekly Shabbat (the most important holiday!), Havdallah and daily rituals which remind us at every moment who we are.
Marking time Jewishly is a special connection for us and having blessings for everything reminds us to be thankful. A favorite Jewish educator speaks of the “Shehecheyanu” blessing as a “Kodak Moment.” Today, not many of us remember capturing our memories with our Kodak camera but the idea never changes. When you have those moments that you want to hold on to and keep with you, we take our phone and take a picture and instantly share it with friends and family. Take one more step and thank G-d for the moment — our children will learn to appreciate the wonder and “specialness” of these moments as we strengthen their Jewish identity. Here is the blessing:
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha’olam, Shehecheyanu v’kiyemanu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh. Blessed are You, O Lord Our G-d, King of the Universe Who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this time.
At the Goldberg Early Childhood Center, we created a “Shehecheyanu-Gram.” It gives us the opportunity to put the moment on paper and hopefully it will go on the refrigerator at home. What are possible “Shehecheyanu Moments” for children: starting a new school year, losing a tooth, a goal in soccer, a kind act …. The list goes on! And just because you are older doesn’t mean celebrating, and especially thanking G-d for making it to a special moment, is over. In fact, there may be even more “Shehecheyanu Moments” as we age! Traditionally the Shecheyanu blessing is said at very specific times — why not celebrate often. Being thankful is a habit — practice it and it will be part of your life!
Laura Seymour is camp director emeritus and Jewish Experiential Learning director at the Aaron Family JCC.