D’var Torah: The power of faith?

A recent survey by the Pew Foundation (Growing Old In America. pewsocialtrends.org) presented a wide range of views on perceptions and realities on growing older.

Rabbi Richard AddressOne of the constants, however, for the 65+ cohort is the power of faith and religion. In the executive summary, it is noted that “Religion is a far bigger part of the lives of older adults than younger adults. Two thirds of adults ages 65 and older say religion is very important to them, compared with just over half of those ages 30-49, and just 44% of those ages 18-29.” As for the first baby boomer wave (ages 50-64) it seems that the jury is still out.

Graphic of results from Pew Foundation study
Graphic of results from Pew Foundation study

Our generation is re-shaping American Judaism and has, in a great way, created a “new” American Judaism. The great spiritual revolution in Judaism is being driven, I feel, by our generation as it seeks real, adult answers to the challenges of living in today’s complex world. It will be interesting to see if Pew surveys the boomers in a few years to determine just how much our approach to institutional religion has changed. Certainly, in our community, the growth of independent minyanim and alternative worship styles and new rituals seem to indicate our continuing search for meaning.

Some of that interest is on display in this months contributions. We welcome Dr. Donald Friedman of Philadelphia. Dr. Friedman is a physician recently retired from practice and now engaged in the search to associate Jewish spirituality and issues of medicine. His THOUGHT PIECE is the first in what I hope is an on-going contribution.

Ilene Sharp from Natick, MA, shares her STORY this month. It is brief look at her relationship with her dad and will strike a common note of recognition.

Remember, we would love to print your story and invite you to send it to us. We also are continuing to look at the Health Care reform issue and invite you to look at an article on Jewish Approaches to the issue by Mark Pelavin, who serves as the associate director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center in Washington, DC. Look for Mark’s article in the HEALTH and WELLNESS section.

Also, let me give a special thank you to the people at the Jewish Pavilion in Orlando, FL. I had the pleasure of being with them in late October to keynote their conference on “Honor Your Father and Mother Without Losing Your Mind”. It was a pleasure meeting the organizers and key members of the Pavilion. This is a group that trains volunteers to visit Jewish residents in assisted living facilities in the Orlando area.


Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.MIn


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