As the calendar page turns

It's not our millennium, the rabbis tell us. It's a Christian event.

It's not our new year, they also remind us. It's Shabbat.

But living in a melting pot, it is hard to separate ourselves from the rest of society. The millennium may be Christian, but come Jan. 1, Jews also will be putting the year 2000 on every check they write. Like it or not, we are being dragged not only into a new year, but a new century and maybe a new millennium — unless you are one of those people who feel the new millennium doesn't begin until Jan. 1, 2001.

So why not do the "Jewish thing" and reflect on the changes we've seen and the changes we can anticipate? Why not be thankful to God for making our lives better?

As we leave 1999, we can be thankful for our prosperity. The good economy also increases charitable giving to Jewish institutions that help our community. In fact, if you haven't made your charitable gifts yet, do so before Dec. 31.

We also can be thankful for the latest developments in Israel. Peace talks with Syria are off to a good start. Prime Minister Ehud Barak remains determined to reach a full peace accord with the Palestinians. The year 2000 could bring a full peace between Israel and all its neighbors.

As 1999 draws to a close, we've witnessed a reawakening to the worst episode of this century — the Holocaust. Germany and the countries that became puppets of the Third Reich are finally assuming some responsibility for their misdeeds and paying reparations to slave laborers and other victims. This may be late in coming, but at least it keeps the memory of the 6 million alive.

Here in the Bay Area, our Jewish community continues to grow and discover itself. In the years ahead we look forward to a new Jewish museum, a new home for the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, a new JCC and Jewish day school on the Peninsula, a new Jewish senior home in San Francisco and other needed facilities.

So let's welcome in the new secular year, century and millennium and let us all join forces for tikkun olam, making the world a better place.