May 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

2015 has felt like a very mysterious number for the past few years. But to be fair, every year feels like the great unknown, the untouchable future, before it begins. Who really knows what’s going to happen? From a religious perspective, there’s the well-known verse from Mishlei (19:21): There are many thoughts in a man’s heart, but the counsel of Hashem, that shall stand. [Translation credit: Mechon Mamre.] We all have our own hopes and thoughts and dreams, for the New Year and beyond, but everyone’s future is actually in God’s hands.

This past year, 2014, has been a prime example of that. I don’t want to spend too long doing a “Year in Review”–I’m sure you’ve seen too many of those on the news or online already. (I looked at the one Facebook created for me and laughed when it lumped January to June together, as if not too much happened for six whole months.) However, many things in particular this year stood out. There were ups and downs, like every year, but sometimes the ups were unbelievably wonderful and the downs unbearably painful. For instance, I had the opportunities this past year to start writing for The Jewish Link, to visit the land of Israel for the very first time, and to make plenty of great memories with friends. On the other hand, my grandmother, zichronah l’vracha, passed away, Operation Protective Edge shattered our lives, and both political upheaval and antisemitism became unbearable–not to mention catastrophes like ISIS. Overall, this year is one to remember, for better or for worse…

Looking ahead, what can I expect in 2015? I’ll be taking the SAT in March, God willing. (Not exactly something I’m looking forward to, but I’m hoping to score a 2400!) And in the fall I’ll be starting my bittersweet final year of high school. It’ll be exciting to be so close to the next step in my life, but I’ll definitely miss the current chapter.

Aside from the usual school and holiday schedules, however, I’m coming up blank as to what else will be happening next year. I have some ideas for summer plans, but nothing set in stone just yet. I know I have plenty of tests in the pipeline, but they still seem so far away. Avengers 2 and Jurassic World are both hitting theaters, but right now I can only hope that they’ll be good (and not protested by North Korea). 2015 really does feel remote, like it’s a long while away. But in reality, as I write this, it’s coming in just a week (and will probably be here by the time you read this!).

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I am looking forward to the New Year. Even though December 31 is, arguably, an arbitrary date, it’s nice to have a set time where I can feel like I have a chance to make a fresh start, to have a chance to change and improve on myself. (I feel the same way towards Rosh Hashanah in the fall, which obviously is very different but also has the same ideas about creating a new beginning. In fact, I guess I’m lucky to be Jewish and to have a date for reinvention not just once a year, but twice!) But there’s just so much unknown about 2015 and how it will go, and after such a tumultuous 2014, it feels a bit scary. Will we all manage to get through it?

But then I think back and realize that hey, we got through this year–it wasn’t easy, but we persevered, and we also managed to have a lot of great moments. I’m hoping that 2015 will be an easier year than this one was, but I can also use the strength I gained from everything that happened this past year to get through anything 2015 throws my way. It’s impossible to anticipate how everything will go, or to make too many predictions about what the year will bring, but I’m going to be confident in myself, in others, and in the world in general that it’ll bring some amazing things, God willing.

I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year!

Oren Oppenheim, age 17, is a junior at Ramaz Upper School in Manhattan and lives in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. He spends his free time writing and reading, and hopes to become a published novelist. You can email him at [email protected] and see his photography at facebook.com/orenphotography.

By Oren Oppenheim

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