Jeremy M Staiman

2023 Recap: What’s Your Roller Coaster Ride?

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It’s late December, and that means that it’s time for pundits worldwide to pontificate in their reviews of this past year, come up with amusing Top Ten lists, pledge promptly-to-be-broken resolutions for 2024, and make frivolous predictions about the future.

My annual review begins October 6th, because, frankly, I don’t recall much that happened before then. With few exceptions, I don’t remember where I went or what I did. I’m fuzzy about whether my business was thriving or struggling. Beyond not knowing, I almost don’t care. 

On October 6th, my wife and I went to Efrat for Hoshanah Rabba, to Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s Shul. We were looking for a special experience, and it didn’t disappoint. The Tefillah was at once uplifting, lively, and meaningful.  

That night, for Shabbat Simchat Torah, we headed to our kids in Maalei Adumim. 

Then it was October 7th, and the world as we knew it ended. 

Rumors spread. Young men started disappearing from Shul, their concerned parents discretely reciting Tehillim (Psalms) during any lull in the prayers. The normally-silent street was bustling with religious men, driving their cars to their bases. The word was that it was bad. Really bad. But we had no idea just how really, really, really bad it was. 

The siren came, and everyone huddled in the Shul, protecting their children with their bodies. Kids were crying. The usual frenetic, joyous chaos of Simchat Torah, was replaced with a foreboding uncertainty, With typical Israeli resilience, minutes later we began singing and dancing with the Torahs. No one wanted the children’s memory of the holiday to end with the frightening sounds of sirens and booms from the sky.

October 7th. 

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In some ways, it still feels like that day hasn’t ended. It’s been months of October 7th. So how do you recap a year which seemed to have only one long day? Surely there have been highs and lows. For each of us, those have been different. 

We have cried for a thousand reasons and more. We have rejoiced at the moments of light and happiness, which have poked pinholes in our daily heaviness. We have swelled with the pride of watching our young men and women grow up overnight, embracing the most daunting of tasks with a smile and a sense of holy purpose. 

We have become a unified people once again.

And then we are plunged into the next day’s news cycle, with its fresh batch of photos of those who will never see the fruits of their sacrifice. Who will never again return to their family and friends. 

The rollercoaster takes us down and up and down again, with nary a hint of where the next turn will be found. We each ride our own ride, always hoping that the next twist will be a joyous one. 

How do I sum up 2023? I don’t think I can, because with only a few days left, I have no idea where I will be when the calendar page turns. Where will my family be? Where will my people be?

We may each still be holding fast onto the handlebars of our rollercoasters, doom-scrolling our phones, and praying for more beams of light to pierce the darkness. 

All we can do is continue to hope and pray that the new year will find us in a far better place, with our hostages home, our soldiers whole, and our nation victorious. 


About the Author
Jeremy Staiman and his wife Chana made Aliya from Baltimore, MD in 2010 to Ramat Beit Shemesh. A graphic designer by trade, Jeremy is a music lover, and produces music on a regular basis -- one album every 40 years. He likes to spend time with his kids and grandkids slightly more often than that.