Photo Credit: Jewish Press

“Practice makes permanent” is a phrase we use often in our home. It reminds us that when we do an action repetitively, it becomes ingrained in us – for better or worse. Our traditions are actions that we repeat over time, which reinforce values and form bonds between those who practice them. At the height of the pandemic, for example, New Yorkers came together in a new tradition of making noise at 7 p.m. each evening in support of our essential workers. Those daily glimpses of my neighbors gave me a much-needed sense of community during an otherwise isolating time. (On the flip side, “because we’ve always done it that way” may not be a good enough reason to uphold a tradition that is no longer meaningful or helpful.)

For many years I never quite felt that I was sufficiently marking my father’s yahrzeit, and so I began a family tradition of discussing what was meaningful to him and then allocating tzedakah to an organization that furthers a cause he cared about. What areas of your life could benefit from more, less, or different traditions?


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Anat Coleman is the Director of Strategic and Community Initiatives at the Jewish Community Council of Washington Heights, and a board member of The Beis Community.