HomeKiddishA Fresh New Year

A Fresh New Year

We woke up this morning to a fresh, new day; a fresh, new month; a fresh, new year.
 “Modeh ani lefanechah….” Thank you G-d for returning my soul to me. Thank you for another day, another month, another year. Filled with the blessings of hope, of opportunity, of room for growth. A brand new beginning……
    The Hebrew word “modeh,” the first word we traditionally say each day, emanates from the root Yud, dalet, hay. Although it is normally translated to mean gratitude, it also implies praise, acknowledgment, admittance and surrender.
    One of my teachers taught that G-d is the place/space for us to direct our gratitude. This year promises so much, let’s approach it by starting with gratitude.  Before setting intentions or resolutions, let’s purposely focus on what we’re thankful for. Make a gratitude list, dig deep, reach far, and once you’ve found the blessings in your life, then look to where you’d like to grow. Set intentions and resolutions that are within your reach. A little movement in the right direction, or small success is better than a huge disappointment or failure.
    Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that we should “get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted.” Let’s be aware of every blessing, every moment of beauty, every smile or hug that comes our way. Let’s express our thanks and awe as we ground ourselves in positivity, attract good tidings and launch into a wondrous 2021.


SUE PENN has a Master’s Degree in Education and recently obtained a Certificate in Jewish Professional Leadership from Northwestern University and the Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning. Sue has been working at University Synagogue for 14 years. She lives in Irvine with her husband. They have three wonderful children. Sue is currently the Director of Membership and Congregational Learning where she oversees all membership, education, and congregant engagement from ages 6-106. Sue has been honored for being an innovative educator and is committed to creative approaches in Jewish Education. In fact, she has led national webinars guiding administrators and teachers in building innovative models of Jewish education. She also writes a monthly article for Jlife Magazine. Sue believes that every child needs to be challenged to reach his or her own potential priding herself in personalizing each student’s Religious education. She currently sits on the National Board of the Reconstructionist Educators of North America, is immediate past president of the Orange County Jewish Educator Association and has previously chaired the National Board of the Reconstructionist Educators of North America. Most recently, Sue was a participant in the Kaplan Center’s 21st Century Kaplanian Vision of Jewish Education.



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