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Jewish Journal

I Made No New Year’s Resolutions

by Susan Esther Barnes

January 2, 2013 | 7:00 am

From wikimedia/eyehook.com

I made no New Year’s resolutions this year. Which is nothing new. I don’t believe I have ever made a New Year’s resolution. If you had asked me ten years ago why I don’t, I probably would have said it’s because if I see something I want to change, I work on changing it right away, instead of waiting for the start of a new year. And I suppose that’s true to some extent.

However, I suspect the more compelling reason is my dislike of making commitments. I take my commitments very seriously – maybe a little too seriously.

After I got married the first time, I realized during my honeymoon that I had made a terrible mistake. But I had just stood before God and made a serious commitment to this man. I said to myself, “I can either give up on this commitment now, or I can try to make it work anyway.” And I tried my hardest, for five years, until even the marriage counselor could see it was no use.

My lack of comfort with making a commitment is exemplified in my relationship with kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws. In August of 2008 I was standing in line at a Mexican restaurant, and I thought, “If I don’t have cheese on this, it will be kosher.” (Ok, I know it still wouldn’t be strictly kosher by Orthodox standards, but it would be according to a plain reading of the Torah scroll).

So I didn’t have cheese with my lunch, and then when it came time for dinner, I had a similar decision to make: kosher or not? I chose kosher. Since that day, I have studiously avoided pork, shellfish, and meat with dairy. But I am quick to point out that I have not, to date, made any commitment to either God, or to myself, that I will continue to eat like this for any period of time in the future.

This despite the fact that I have even gone so far as to attend two holiday turkey meals at a friend’s house this past month, at which I didn’t eat any of the delicious-smelling turkey. This because all the side dishes and desserts contained dairy, so I saw my choice as either turkey and nothing else, or everything else with no turkey. Not that I’m committed in any way.

This tendency of mine to avoid commitments like the plague just goes to show the patience and persistence of my fabulous husband of ten years. Not only did he have to get me to agree to date him, he had to get me to make the commitment to move from Nevada back to California to be with him, and then to – gasp! – marry him despite my previous painful experience. God bless him.

So if you made some New Year’s resolutions this year, that’s great. I hope you take your commitments seriously, and that you keep them. As for me, I’m going to try to keep my options open this year.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Susan Esther Barnes is a religious Reform Jew who can regularly be seen greeting people at her synagogue before services. She is a founding member of her synagogue’s chevra...

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