Wendy Kalman
Wendy Kalman
There are many ways to see and understand


This past week students in my county returned to school. And as I wrote last week, I registered for classes as well, as I head back to a classroom after a number of decades away. Next week, I move my youngest son into his freshman dorm, and will begin to pack up what I’ve not sold or given away in advance of my own move into my fiancé’s house. And to add to the mix, this summer, my middle son moved into his own place and my oldest son got married.

We are all moving from one chapter of our lives to another, and it is exciting. Exciting to be a part of and exciting to watch.

But all these transitions made me wonder about the words we use in Hebrew. מעבר (ma’avar) means transition or passage. Sharing the same root as עבר (avar) the past, the connection seemed obvious to me – from the past into the present is a passage. This piece speaks on transitions especially in light of Rosh Hashanah, which is coming soon too, and looks at ma’avar as well as two other translations. Interesting read.

And what about from the present to the future?

עתיד (atid) means future. Its ע-ת-ד root obviously isn’t connected to words with a ע-ב-ר root, but what I found interesting is that the reflective verb form להתעתד (l’hit-ah-ted) actually also means to intend to, to be about to. I pictured being nudged into the future. Whether or not it’s a push or a leap, it is moving forward into a new period in one’s life.

עת (et), though with a different root (ע-ת-ת), means a period or epoch, time. But which time? עתה (ata) tells me now. In this moment. The future is now.

Just as moving from one stage to another, from what is familiar to what is new, can be exciting, it can cause some people stress. And here is yet another pair of words. In Israel, whenever you see someone tells you to slow down, to wait, he or she will hold three fingers together. It is universally known in the country that the word רגע (rega) and its root, ר-ג-ע, means just a moment, but it’s also taken to mean have patience, just wait. It’s what you say to slow someone down, to stay in this moment.

To calm someone down, that is, להרגיע (lehargea) or to calm down, להרגע (leraga), is to pull someone into the moment.

Is the opposite of the excitement of moving forward into the future being calm and restrained in the present? I can’t see that, because part of the excitement of what comes next is the anticipation, הטרם (haterem) about what the future holds. טרם (terem) means not yet. So, as I sit here in the “not yet,” the anticipation builds. And as I see my sons move into their next stages and I prepare to move into mine, I have to remind myself not so much to be calm but to reflect in the moment, to savor it, to enjoy. But the excitement is there. We can be calm and excited at each stage. And we should be.

I have to also add, that while it is bittersweet to leave our home for the last 15 years, knowing that parallel to our transition to this exciting new future is a young family’s transition into our house brings an added dimension to our own ma’avar from the avar to the atid.

Now, time to go buy books and start packing!

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Lawn Guyland, Wendy lived in Jerusalem for over a decade submerged in Israeli culture; she has been soaked in Southern life in metro Atlanta since returning to the U.S. in 2003. Recently remarried, this Ashkenazi mom and MIL to three Mizrahi sons and a DIL in their 20s splits her time between managing knowledge in corporate America, pursuing a dual masters in public administration and integrated global communications, relentlessly Facebooking, enjoying the arts and trying to bring a wider perspective to the topics she covers while blogging.
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