It’s hard to believe how fast January went by! February comes from the Latin word februa, which means “to cleanse.” The month was named after the Roman Februalia, which was a month-long festival of purification and atonement that took place this time of year. The old Roman calendar had only ten months, starting in March and ending with December (Latin for “the tenth month”). When the two winter months January and February were added, February became the last month of the year and was given 28 days to fit into the calendar. To keep up with the seasons, the Romans introduced a leap month they called “Intercalaris”. The extra month was added every couple of years after February, which was shortened to 23 or 24 days to make room for the thirteenth month.
In the year 46 BCE, Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar system—the Julian calendar. He abolished the “Intercalaris” and instead introduced what would become the leap year, where every fourth year, February had 29 days instead of 28. This was the beginning of the modern leap year.
February is Black History month. Black History Month is an annual celebration recognizing the achievements of African Americans. It marks a time to pause and recognize the rich cultural heritage, triumphs, adversities, achievements, and the critical role of African Americans in U.S. history. Black History Month grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans founded in 1926. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909, the centennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the great emancipator who fought to free the slaves and end slavery in America. Plus, it also coincides with the birthday of Frederick Douglass, a former slave who was a prominent, vocal leader in the abolitionist movement, who also fought to end slavery alongside President Lincoln! Both Lincoln and Douglass were born in the second week of February (Douglass’ exact birthdate isn’t known but he celebrated it on February 14th), so it became a traditional time for African Americans to host celebrations in honor of their emancipation.
It’s important for us as a nation to not only commemorate the past but look to the future. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it! Black History Month is very important to commemorate past achievements so that we may understand, reflect, and learn about the struggles and difficulties historically faced by black people! We can’t move forward in peace and unity until we reconcile and heal from our past! History is being made every day! Our lives and decisions shape and impact future generations’ culture, understandings, and values. As Dr Raleigh Washington stated in his recent book; “The Cure for Hurt, Hatred, & Hostility-”One Word”, you can change the world with one word, relationship!
Intentionality in relationships! Sacrifice! Any meaningful relationship requires mutual give and take. We must consider the other person as more important than ourselves. It’s a choice to relinquish our position and adopt an attitude of humility. The result can be healing, mended relationships, and redemption. Sacrifice is the willingness to relinquish an established status or position to genuinely adopt a lesser position in order to facilitate a harmonious relationship. We consider others as more important than ourselves. This requires the utmost in humility. We have powerful examples, areas of light in America’s history between our people. I’ve heard Sid Roth say on numerous occasions: “God has a secret weapon in America for the One New Humanity, the African American Believer”. United together as the One New Humanity, we will shift history for justice and righteousness! We do so through dialogue, by relationship with great intentionality we work through conflict to build trust with each other which requires great humility, empathy, and mutual love! Then we may truly Love Adonai with all of our heart, mind, and soul and love our neighbor (regardless of race) as ourselves!
Love and Shalom,
Rabbi and Rebbetzin Carlson