Into the light of the future

The Torah cycle that we read this month deals a lot with Joseph and his sojourn in Egypt; his rise from prisoner to minister and his eventual reunion with his family. Indeed, one of the most powerful lines in the Torah is from this cycle. It comes when Joseph meets his brothers. As his brothers understand who this person really is who stands before them, we hear Joseph’s first question: “Is my father still alive?” Despite all that has taken place, there is this need on the part of Joseph to know about his dad. The generational pull is strong; today as it was in the Torah!

Rabbi Richard AddressThe passing of the generations seems to have become a hot topic again with the reality that as of January 1, 2011 (that’s next month!) one person in the USA will turn 65 every 8 seconds.

The baby boomers are aging and there is no denying it any longer. What kind of future will we create? Will we change the culture aging as we “changed” the culture in the 60s and 70s? It is a question that is no longer theoretical. In the October 2010 issue of The Atlantic, in an article entitled “The Least We Can Do,” author Michael Kinsley throws down the challenge to boomers to be passionately engaged in solving the growing fiscal challenges of entitlements. It may be in our own self interest as well as leaving a responsible legacy to our children. A recent New York Times Book Review looked at a new book on aging, Shock of Gray, that also reflects the challenging of global aging and the sobering reality that by 2025 (only 15 years) 66 million Americans will be over the age of 65. The challenges of global aging, limited resources, entitlements and such every day issues for us as care-giving and financial uncertainty will make the coming years, as they say, “interesting”.

A good place to start some of this dialogue is  within our own religous community.

Synagogues, JCC’s and the like would be wise to revisit the role of boomers in their would and discuss how this population’s experience and energy can be put to best use. As a brief reflection on this, we will iclude this month recently published thought piece on the role of baby boomers in our religious community from Contact, the publication of the Steinhart Foundation.

December is a month that celebrates light. We enjoy Channukah and share the month with Christmas and Kwanzaa, both of which feature light. The baby boomers, now turning 65 en masse, have the potential to light anew path to creative, healthy and meaningful aging. The time to start the mission is now, each of us in our own way and in our own community.

There is much to do.

Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min.

Editor’s Note: Rabbi Address’s latest article, “The Next Frontier: Baby Boomers and their Challenge to the Communal Status Quo,” appears in the Autumn 2010 issue of Contact, the quarterly publication of the Steinhardt Foundation. You can download a PDF of the article by clicking here.

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