From Yom Kippur to Purim: Cantor Juval Porat of LA’s LGBT synagogue Beth Chayim Chadashim took the challenge of celebrating 100 Happy Days, as an effort in finding new appreciation of our relationship with the universe
Last Erev Yom Kippur occurred exactly on the first of the last 100 remaining days of 2015. I remember this because I got an email on that day titled “Can you be happy for the last 100 days of 2015?” from 100happydays – a Non-Profit Foundation “on the mission to make the world happier.” I was invited to participate in a 100 day long challenge, in which I’d take a daily picture of what made me happy, as a ritual to help cultivate daily moments of happiness. I thought it might be a nice experiment, especially starting on the eve of Yom Kippur, and so I accepted the challenge.
On the night of Kol Nidrei I took a picture of my guitar, my book of music/prayers and a key given out during Rabbi Lisa’s sermon, and I named the image “my work makes me happy,” a feeling that felt profoundly true on that particular night. My last day of the challenge contained a small collage images depicting some of what happened over the year and I gave it the title “Opportunities make me happy.” In between those days I posted all kinds of images, which you can see on my website.
On day 100 I found myself glancing at the list of happy moments with awe and appreciation, as I waved my goodbyes to them and moved on to days with plenty of undocumented happy moments. Then the arrival of the Jewish month of Adar in mid-February 2016 brought the list back into my mind – after all, we read in the Talmud (Taanit 29): “Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha” – When the month of Adar arrives we should increase our joy, or “joy is increased”. Apart from the joyous holiday of Purim, there is no tradition as to how the increase of joy is to be manifested. Maybe, I thought to myself, my 100 daily documented joybringers would inspire others to find their sources of joy for themselves!