Although I am very proud to be Jewish, I consider myself more of a spiritual person rather than a religious one. I was born in Chicago and when my family lived there, my parents belonged to a temple, and were fairly active in the Jewish community. That all changed when we moved to Mexico City when I was five years old. Although our household was still culturally Jewish, I don’t remember any special Seder dinners or celebrating the High Holy Days. We also didn’t belong to any temple in Mexico.

I remember, when asked, my mother would say she was “international”. Her grandfather had been a Zionist Rabbi who went to Palestine/ Israel in the 1800’s and her older sister was born there. Perhaps because she had experienced anti-Semitism as a ballerina in the Ballet Russe [NYC Ballet Company] in the 1930’s, Mexico was a place to reinvent herself. My father was always very culturally Jewish, but I don’t remember him being very religious.

I remember my parents speaking in Yiddish when they didn’t want us to understand and I remember many cultural aspects, but there was no religious anchor in our household. As an adult, I found my path in spiritual teachings, especially those of Tibetan Buddhism. However, although I may not fully understand it, I still love celebrating the Jewish New Year in my own way and honoring my ancestors even if I don’t go to temple.

For me, the New Year is not only about sweetness and forgiving those who have wronged you [yes, I am lumping Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur together], but also starting the New Year with good deeds toward others.

To that end, I have started a Gofundme campaign to help the newly arrived African and Middle Eastern refugees in Europe. The picture of the little Syrian boy washed up on the beach was so disturbing. There is a crisis going on in Europe right now, and in my own, small way, I want to help.

I have made contact with a small non-profit agency in Belgium run by an American, called Solidarite Grands Froids. Because they are a small and volunteered based organization, there is little red tape. All the proceeds they receive go directly to buying blankets, clothing, and toiletries, much needed items for the refugees, as so many have arrived with nothing and winter is coming up. Their website is www.solidaritegrandfroid.be

The website for my Gofundme campaign is http://www.gofundme.com/6k3w8pu4

I realize that there are many organizations one can give to, but I like the fact that this organization is doing something right now to help the refugees as is seen on their website.

Personally, I also donate money to other organizations for both four legged and two legged ones and I gather donations every winter for some very poor neighborhoods in Tecate, Mexico. Whatever may be your cause or organization of choice, I hope you will consider donating. Helping others is food for the soul and good karma. May you all have a very sweet, happy, and healthy New Year.

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Miriam [Mimi] Pollack was born in Chicago, but moved to Mexico City when she was five years old. She lived and worked in Mexico for over 20 years. She currently resides in San Diego and worked as an ESL instructor at Grossmont College and San Diego Community College Continuing Education until June 2018. She writes for various local publications.