As we contemplate life in 2024, I hope each of us can lean into making more meaningful moments and take what we’ve learned thus far to make a difference in the world.  

To live with meaning, we can begin by recognizing those moments when we are totally engaged in a group activity or with another person doing something we enjoy.   Perhaps people who we just met at a concert or at a conference or in synagogue – feel the connection when we are together in the experience. That feeling we share is sometimes referred to as “collective effervescence.”  

Another moment is when we lose ourselves while engaged in doing something significant with intention, challenging ourselves. That state of flow is hard to describe, but it’s wonderful and we get things accomplished and it takes our minds off terrifying worries and problems. 

I think of Eminem twenty years ago when he sang, “You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go, you only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow this opportunity – comes once in a lifetime yo, and hope the energy gives back. “  

And if we can take that energy and commit to every moment there is meaning.  Being at one with the world gives us meaning. This moment is all there is. (I know… I say this all the time.) 

When life feels challenging and fear creeps in, what can we do to calm ourselves and those around us? Aside from singing, “Raindrops on Roses,” how can we show up for each other during the tough times we know will come?  

Today when it seems like our social norms and systems are actively challenged, we can come together to serve the greater good and find significance in shared interests that move us toward a better way of thinking and being.  

Reaching out is the gift we can give to others. WE CAN BE THE GIFT!  

We talk about volunteering at JSL and how much people love to spend time on our campuses. We love it when you volunteer. And your contributions of time and talent to JSL are a wonderful opportunity to make meaningful “effervescent connections. When our volunteers connect with residents, staff or other visitors they often find meaning and comfort in the “collective effervescence” they help create and so do those with whom they connect.  

And we can do more. We can roll up our sleeves and lend a hand. Many people “adopt” one or more of our senior residents.  They serve them as good listeners, friends, mentors, coaches, tutors, and we get-our-hands-dirty-by-cleaning-up-the-messes – helpers. Or maybe just make ‘em laugh!  

Some people drive patients to medical appointments. Others sit with those in chemotherapy. These meaningful moments invite people to jump into the “collective effervescence” that enriches our residents’ lives and ours as well.  

Author and New York Times columnist, David Brooks says, “The soul yearns for goodness. I’ve never met anybody who didn’t want to be good. Every single person wants to lead a good life, and even if they do horrible things, they always invent some rationalization to explain why it was actually good. And what the soul yearns for is service to some transcendent ideal.” . . . Moments of pain and self-doubt either break you…. or break you open.”  

Brooks adds: “We gain meaning when we take a new road to find our best selves that offers us a new existence. And we can come back to society as a contributor, reaching out to help others is a sure way to find and live a life of meaningful intention.”  

May each of us find ways “not to be bystanders, but to be upstanders” (I heard this perfect turn of phrase from Sylvia Starkman, 2022 8/80 honoree.   We can make the “collective effervescence” that adds so much to the lives of others – and to ours as well.  

May you and your families experience joy, good health, and meaningful moments in the new year. 

Shabbat Shalom 



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