I wanted to get some thoughts down to share with our JSA (jewishsacredaging.com) community about this past weekend. My daughter and her two children, my grand children Ayla and Jacob are visiting for a month. We sat down for Shabbat dinner Friday night as a family. It was the third anniversary of my mom’s death and we said kaddish, lit a memorial candle and then welcomed shabbat. Just before dinner, I caught up on the latest news. Such horror on all fronts; from the Israel-Gaza war to Ukraine, to Syria-Iraq and ISIS and so much more. I recalled my mom being so upset over world events and me reminding her that, as upset as she may have been, I doubted that her worrying would impact any substantive outcomes.
So, we sat down to dinner and did the prayers and remembered “bubbe” and in doing so I could not help but look at these two young people, ages 5 and 2, and wonder what kind of world they would be inheriting. For we Boomers, we were so sure that, as a result of Viet-Nam and the Civil Rights movement and the various social changes that we were part of; well, we were kind of convinced that by the time we reached the twenty-first century, things would be pretty good. Yet, the real world has managed to counter that hope and despite admitted social gains, the world seems to actually be in worse shape now than when we were young. And, as we age, there is that feeling that there may not be much left that we can do.
So are we left with nothing more than nostalgia, which may be a nice word for living in the past! Our tradition mandates that we cannot live looking backward. No matter what, we need to live in this day and work for a tomorrow that can be a little better. Our generation has taken the lead in so much change. It would be a crime for us to sit back and just throw our collective hands in the air. Those little eyes keep looking at us and, I think, keep asking that we not retreat, that we keep trying, in out own way, to make the world in which they will grow, just a little bit better, kinder and humane. One step at a time. I guess that is th e only way we can make sense of what seems so un-sensible now.
Anyway, just a few thoughts. I hope to continue these reflections and invite your comments.
Rabbi Richard Address
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.