Good Riddance 5769

You sucked.

Okay, you had some really good things that happened also: an historic election, a pretty good Super Bowl and some decent movies. Here at the J we had a great year of programs: hit shows, our first Helen Hayes Award, amazing parties on Election and Inauguration Nights, incredible authors, musicians and community service accomplishments.

But mostly you sucked.

You were the year of the near-collapse of our economic system. When we were sitting in shul last year, the housing bubble was bursting, the stock market was in free-fall and the auto industry was well on its way to collapse. I remember thinking, “The beginning of 5769 sucks so hard, it can only go up from here.”

I was wrong.

Bernie Madoff happened. If he had just been a ganef of enormous proportions that would have been bad enough. But he compounded his villainy by stealing from charitable organizations and some of the major philanthropists behind the Jewish community specifically, and the non-profit world in-general. Madoff will forever be the dark presence that hovers over 5769.

Israel stumbled through a close election that revealed a deeply divided electorate, created a minority-led government and no real optimism that any current peace initiative has much chance of success.

We were enthralled by the possibility of change in Iran, even as their nuclear development grew ever more ominous and the possible outcomes seemed increasingly less attractive.

We were horrified by senseless killing in our own community at the Holocaust Museum, in the neighborhoods of the District of Columbia, and at the LGBT Center in Tel Aviv.

We lost dear friends.

And yet, tomorrow in shul I will pray for a sweet 5770. And I even have faith my prayers might be heard and answered. Because hope is surprisingly resilient. And as bitter as the after-taste of 5769 might seem now, in a few years we may view it differently. After all, providence can reveal itself in time. How many people would trade a President Barack Obama in 2009 for a President John Kerry in 2004?

May we all be inscribed for a year of peace, a year of prosperity, a year of good health and a year of sweetness.

May G-d Bless You and Keep You
May G-d cause G-d’s countenance to shine upon you
May G-d lift G-d’s face to you, and Grant you peace

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