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Introduction to the Hope & Gratitude 10-Day Challenge

As a follow-up to my recent lecture at the Manhattan JCC on Hope & Gratitude Through a Jewish Lens I am providing you with a 10-day Hope & Gratitude Challenge (#HopeAndGratitudeChallenge). I hope you enjoy it!

The emails you will receive contain personal exercises and questions for reflection, to activate hope and gratitude in your life based on your individual experiences and temperament.

At the same time, there is also a larger human context to Hope and Gratitude and a Jewish communal context.

For the larger, human context, perhaps you joined me for the Positive Psychology Hour where I talked about Hope & Gratitude. I have linked a recording of it so that you can access that class (again or for the first time).

To put these exercises into a Jewish context, I am launching this 10-Day challenge shortly after Tisha B’av (the 9th Day of the Hebrew month of Av), a holiday commemorating national Jewish catastrophes and Tu B’av (the 15th Day of the Hebrew month of Av), a joyous day traditionally devoted to match-making and dancing. Immediately after destruction and mourning, Jews deliberately commence a period of comfort and rebuilding.

Hope is activated by adversity, as Barbara Frederickson, a leading researcher of Positive Psychology, teaches. Jews have a tragic history in many ways, yet our tradition is fundamentally hopeful in its outlook. People of every background and belief need hope even when we feel steady and happy – and, even more so, when we feel shaken, shaky, sad, or scared.

Jewish history points to many reasons for gratitude, as well. Yes, Jews lost two Temples in Jerusalem, and we suffered exile and expulsions, pogroms and attempted genocides – but we’re still here! For two thousand years, after the destruction of the second Temple in the year 70 on the 9th day of Av, Jews prayed for a return to Jerusalem. Today, Jews again have access to – and even sovereignty over – Jerusalem. There is still much work to do in order to heal strife within the Jewish community and between Israelis and Palestinians. But we don’t make progress by discounting the blessings we have received or by giving up hope.

For where we are today, I thank God and the human family.

For where, together, we can progress tomorrow, thank you.

Now, let’s get started!

My next blog post linked here contains today’s exercise.

With love and blessings,

Rabbi Debra

p.s. You are welcome to join me for a Zoom event on Thursday, July 29, 2021 from 8:30-9:15 pm, entitled Commencement: "Sealing" Your New Practice and Carrying It Forward. We will discuss this 10-day challenge, focusing on new insights and your “take-aways.” If you would like to get all 10 days in your inbox and participate in the live Hope & Gratitude Zoom on July 29 at 8:30 PM eastern, please sign up for my e-newsletter!


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