There is, perhaps, no greater marker to the first wave of Boomers than November 22, 1963. It was out generation’s “I remember where I was when….”
My parents always spoke about Pearl Harbor and when President Roosevelt died. It has been 50 years! A half a century! And I still remember hearing the news on the car radio on Columbia Ave in Philadelphia. My friend Larry and I had finished classes for the week at Temple University and were driving to my house for the weekend. The news stopped us, as it did everyone. We ran into the house and were glued to the TV. That night, we knew we had to go to the synagogue where we taught, just to be with people. The sanctuary was overflowing.
Fifty years later! So much has changed. So much of that idealism and hope has been washed away by the years. Is there a message from all of this? I will leave the historians to muddle through revisionism. So many of us cut our political teeth on the 1960 election and the ideal of “Camelot.”
Scott Reich, in his new book on JFK, The Power of Citizenship: Why John F. Kennedy Matters to a New Generation, discusses the concept of citizenship; the ideal that we all owe something to each other and to this country and that is one of the highest ideals to which we, as a civilization, can aspire. Remember the Peace Corps? (Mr. Reich will discuss his book on Boomer Generation Radio Tuesday Nov. 26th at 10.00am on WWDB am 860 and wwdbam.com)
Let me suggest that as we try and remember, we consider how this ideal of citizenship has been translated into Jewish values. The tradition reminds us that “all Israel is responsible for each other”. We are all inter-connected in so many ways, and what we do and believe in can make a difference. And it begins with each one of us doing something to make the world a better place. That is Jewish citizenship and it is striking how many Boomers are now at a stage in our life when we feel compelled to “give something back”. Perhaps that is the seed planted so many years ago that flowered in the 60’s and 70’s and is being reborn. Perhaps it is a no longer silent response to some of those powerful words we heard when we were so very young; words like these from a speech at American University commencement from June of 1963:“In the final analyses, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal”
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min