Be Happy It's Adar by Rabbi Judy Chessin
Good news for Jews in the pews! Last month, the Pew Research Center released a study entitled: “Religion’s Relationship to happiness, Civic Engagement, and Health around the World.” The study found “that people who are active in religious congregations tend to be happier and more civically engaged than either religiously unaffiliated adults or inactive members of religious groups.”
Previous studies had already indicated that people involved in their congregations lived longer and experienced reduced stress in coping with life’s challenges. Now we learn that regular participation in a religious community is linked with higher levels of happiness. And “regular participation” was defined as either attending religious services, Bible study groups, Sabbath dinners, or committee meetings merely once a month!
There are many factors at play in this result. Friendship networks fostered by religious communities can make people happier and give them a sense of purpose and belonging. Having a community to rely upon can reduce stress in times of trouble. Religious values tend to promote healthier lifestyles. In short, the study concludes, “individuals reap well-being benefits from the social connections they build in religious congregations and other aspects of religious involvement.”
The Pew study is perfectly timed! We are in the middle of the Hebrew month Adar, which ushers in the first hints of spring. Our tradition decrees, “When Adar enters, joy increases.” This year we actually have two Adars, and a double measure of opportunities to become involved.
* Our Corned Beef Festival will take place on Tuesday, March 12th. We will derive both culinary delights as well as ample opportunities to pitch in as a team and support this important and enjoyable endeavor and our congregation.
* Purim will be celebrated the next week! BOTY will host a festive Purim Carnival on Sunday, March 17th; we will have an “Escape Room” Megillah Reading on Wednesday, March 20th, at 7 p.m., and we’ll all enjoy a Mary Poppins Dinner Theatre Purim Spiel on Friday, March 22nd, 6:00 p.m.
While happiness is not a major pursuit in Judaism, our people are commanded to enhance joy (simcha) whenever possible. But simcha is not just about individuals. It is always about things we share. We have many simchas in the coming month. Come to Temple and share in our joy(s) this Adar. Then, we pray, happiness will follow.