"Today I completed a challenge that I never thought possible. Today is Labor Day, Monday, Sept 1, 2014, and I competed in, and finished, my first triathlon."
-- Rabbi Jill Levy
This may not seem like such a huge accomplishment for those who are "fitness people," but I have never been particularly skilled in the sports and fitness department. However, there was something driving me to train for and to participate in this event. Since I work at the J, where we have an amazing fitness center, trainers and two pools, I knew I had the resources, I just had to use them.
After 12 weeks of training I received my race number and stood at the bank of the lake ready to enter the water at the start of the race. At that point, I asked two of my friends if they would say the shecheyanu blessing (Blessed are You, God, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season) with me, my way of praising and thanking God for the ability to reach this moment in my life. It was not until I was on the bike that I realized I had a choice. I could have said the blessing at the race finish instead of at the beginning.
In that moment, I realized that all of the events leading up to the race including the decision to do it, the training, the friends I made along the way, the donations I raised for Leukemia and Lymphoma society, the sticking to it, were what mattered to me the most. The finish was amazing, but the journey even more powerful.
Soon we will be celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. On this day we also say the shecheyanu blessing, traditionally acknowledging our gratitude for being able to enter a new holiday season. This Rosh Hashanah, I understand the words of this blessing differently. It is also an acknowledgement of everything we have been able to accomplish in the previous year, and what it took to be able to get there.
This year, I encourage you to think about the journeys you have made. What did you learn? Who supported you along the way? How did you reassure yourself during difficult times? What makes you proud? What can you do as to help others in their endeavors? I look forward to what the New Year has in store and am grateful for everything and everyone that sustained me to this point.
Shanah Tovah (Happy New Year),
Rabbi Jill Levy
Director of Center for Jewish Living and Learning
Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston
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