The concept of “civic engagement” is a hot one at present. This is a concept, brought to fruition in a book of the same name by Marc Freedman, that the baby boom generation represents a great untapped resource. There is the hoped for “give back” syndrome ready to be unleashed.
In the February 2008 edition of the Gerontologist, there is an interesting review of a new book that looks at this issue. Civic Engagement and the Baby Boom Generation (ed:. Wilson and Simson. Haworth Press. Binghamton, NY 2006) seeks to examine the statement raised in the review that “Today’s seniors are about production and contribution, not just consumption and need.”
The concern of the religious community may very well be in the linkage between the desire for engagement in the world and the need to find a sense of meaning and purpose in my life. A challenge to religious communities in the next several decades will be to harness this reservoir of good intention an make it real and present in people’s lives. This is way beyond the opportunity to do volunteer work. The reviewer notes that we may be at the beginning of this change. “Thus far”, he states, “the boomers have not shown themselves to be engagement stalwarts, but their numbers and the resources that might make the, such have been clearly present in their middle years. Put simple, the boomers’ future engagement is not a default-drive demographic, and efforts to realize their potential will be needed.”
Just another challenge that is before us in this revolution of longevity!
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.