As we begin our annual season of reflection, I find it a useful and joyful practice to begin by first looking back at the highlights of the past year. So it’s become a tradition in my family to spend a few minutes as Rosh Hashanah arrives to share our favorite memories of the past year. I share this exercise with you as a wonderful family activity that, as a Beth Emet teacher, I always introduced to my third-grade students and their families.
Give each member of your family at least five scraps of paper, and have them (privately) write down one of their favorite events on each piece of paper. (Have someone write down the responses for children who can’t yet write.) Use a manila envelope marked boldly with the last Hebrew year (5771) to collect all the papers. Take turns pulling them out and reading them.
For the past couple years, with our son in college, we’ve had to alter our strategy a little, using emails and Skype to share our happiest memories.
For children as well as adults, it’s a wonderful way to provide some closure to the past year, as well as to reinforce a sense of the Jewish year as opposed to the secular year. And, before we delve into the darknesses that have plagued us, it reminds us of some of the things we got right in the past year! I think Jonah would’ve been a happier prophet if he had spent a little time thinking about all the good things that happened during his adventure!