—Rabbi Jonathan Malamy, Director of Meaningful Life
Good Afternoon, Jewish Home Manhattan.
Today is Thursday, May 28.
When I was young, I thought staying up late was a magical thing. What mysteries would I discover, after bedtime? The first New Year’s Eve I was both allowed to (and succeeded to) make it all the way to midnight, I felt I had been initiated into a secret club of grown-ups. Not until college did I learn that procrastinators up against deadlines could become quite familiar with all-nighters. And the wee hours from two to five am are very different when you don’t want to be awake. Taking care of newborns or struggling with insomnia can bring a kind of hopeless desperation — why can’t I just close my eyes and go back to sleep?!
Many caregivers at The New Jewish Home, especially the 11 p.m. – 7 a.m. night shift, know intimately the ins and outs of this hidden shift of the day. We all deserve appreciation, but their heroism is especially unsung in part because I would never broadcast these words between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. for fear of waking up those who are sleeping. So those of you who hear them now, I ask you to share our collective thanks with them. When you take over for them at 7 a.m. or when they take over for you at 11 p.m. Everyone here plays an irreplaceable part, but some work is more invisible because of where or when it happens. In the name of fairness, we must ensure everyone gets their due.
Why is my mind is on the wee hours of the night and morning? It’s because tonight begins the Jewish Festival of Shavuot. While Passover has its famous Seder meal and Sukkot has its week of outdoor living in booths, the observances of Shavuot are less well know. Its main custom is called Tikkun Leyl Shavuot. To observe, one stays up all night studying and learning with a community. Shavuot celebrates the revelation at Mount Sinai as is recounted in the Book of Exodus. And in studying all night we too hope to receive a kind of revelation, the clarity and truth that sometimes breaks through the fuzziness and fatigue.
May everyone at The New Jewish Home be blessed with such reassurance and insight. In many ways our relationship forms a kind of covenant. We hold an obligation to give care and love to those who depend on us and to support and respect one another.
We never lock our doors. We remain open: open to those in need, open to learning and growth. We welcome those who need us, whether during the day or anytime through the long hours of the night.