Today is August 20, 2019 -
I always encourage feedback on my writing, and fortunately, people do not hesitate to give it to me. Critical comment number #1 is that I do not show enough emotion in my writing. I rarely emote. I’m a CPA. I’m typically unflappable.
But boy, did I have an emotional week.
My heart sank (emotion #1) on Wednesday afternoon when I saw the weather forecast. By evening, closings were already being reported ahead of the storm. By early Thursday morning, the snow had already started in New Jersey, and east-coast flights were being cancelled. I’m not embarrassed to say that I was worried (emotion #2). In fact, Wednesday night I lost a whole night’s sleep.
Why? Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m., 29 kids (including two of my own) and three chaperones were scheduled to depart for Newark International for a 1:30 p.m. flight to Israel on the first Northeastern New York teen mission in almost 30 years. If the kids couldn’t get to Newark, or if the plane couldn’t leave early enough to get to Israel before Shabbat, they would be stuck in New Jersey until at least Sunday, and they would miss the opportunity to spend Shabbat in Jerusalem.
Amazingly, the kids made it to Newark and the plane took off. By 2:30 p.m. I was up to major emotion #3, euphoric relief. I went to bed early last night and slept like a baby, knowing that the kids were safely in the air, over the Atlantic, and on their way.
Child development and behavior specialist Betsy Brown Braun said, “You are only as happy as your least happy child.” Similarly, our Talmud teaches us that we cannot be jealous of our children because their accomplishments are our accomplishments and their joy is our joy. So instead of jealousy, our tradition offers the concept of nachas (Yiddish) or nachat (Hebrew). This refers to the overwhelming sense of joy or pride that we have, especially in our children’s activities. This was big (emotion #4) which hit me this morning, when my kids video-called me from their hotel. They’ve made new friends, enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the Friday afternoon shuk (open market), and were preparing for Shabbat in our Holy City. I am so proud of all 29 of our children for giving up their school vacation and being the inaugural class for this pilot teen mission, and I am so happy that they are having such a great time.
Reading all of the negative comments on the future of Judaism and the apathy of the young can be disheartening (emotion #5), but watching the kids board the bus for Newark was really encouraging (emotion #6).
All of this emotion is a bit much for me. I might have to dig out an old accounting text book to read this weekend to regain my composure.