Jewels of Elul: Finding Hope

Elul 19: Finding Hope

By Jeanne Pepper
Originally published at Jewels of Elul 8/29/18

What if? Two little words that inspire children to dream and scientists to ponder.

For my family, we could ask “what if” when we think about what might have averted the January 2018 murder of Blaze Bernstein; our 19-year-old first born son.  What if we had all stayed home for a family game night, taken a family vacation over his winter break from UPENN or eaten dinner out that fateful night? Would he still be alive?

We learned that “what ifs” can be the road to misery for people that have lost loved ones. We choose not to consider what small things we could have done to change his timeline. There is no meaning and hope there. Instead, we #Blazeitforward and seek to inspire people to do good deeds and practice tolerance.

Blaze was an Ivy League student, a brilliant writer, budding scientist, and a giver. He dreamed of being a doctor and helping people with his gifts. He dreamed of a better world.

Blaze’s spirit now shares our co-destiny to continue his legacy; repairing our world – Tikun Olam. “What if” he was still alive – becomes our call to action. It’s a call to the world to take his place and work together collectively and individually to improve the human condition. We don’t worry about the things we cannot change. Rather, we imagine how good things could be.

That is the best use of “what if,” when it empowers us and inspires us to do good.

What is a Jewel?

There is a great Jewish tradition to dedicate the 29 days in the Month of Elul to study and prepare for the coming high holy days. The time is supposed to challenge us to use each day as an opportunity for growth and discovery.

While conceptually the notion is noble, it was clear that acting on it was a bit more challenging. Enter . . . Jewels of Elul. For the past seven years I have collected short stories, anecdotes and introspections from some fascinating people.

We have collected these Jewels of Elul, from an eclectic group of people including President Barack Obama, Eli Winkelman, Desmond Tutu, the Dali Lama, Sarah Lefton, Eli Wiesel, Deepak Chopra, Pastor Rick Warren, Kirk Douglas, Rev. Ed Bacon, Rabbi David Wolpe, Ruth Messinger, Jeffrey Katzenberg and over 100 other inspired voices . . . well known and not so well known.

I invite you to make each day count. Join us is preparing for this most sacred time of year.

To sweet, inspired Holy Day of change.
Craig Taubman

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