This weekend, religious congregations all over the country will pause to remember Rev. Martin Luther King. At hundreds of congregations, mixed choirs will sing the songs of the sixties, join hands and, for a brief moment, try and recapture the dreams of a half a century ago. All of this in the back drop of Paris and Nigeria. This is a weekend of reflection. I was sitting with an old friend recently and we were talking a little about “the good old days” of the sixties, of protest marches and intense conversations and the feeling that the world was changing and that just about anything would be possible. Then we spoke about the world that exists now. And while we agreed that “progress” has been made, we lamented that some of what was sacred social legislation has been attacked and partially eroded in recent years. The violence and racism that we promised to “overcome” has become more pronounced, more graphic and the divisions in society seem to be wider. What happened?
I wonder if every generation, as they get older, looks back with the same interpretation? I am beginning to think it so, to some extent. So, here we are in 2015, with every Baby Boomer at least 50 years of age and the fact, according to the census, that Millenials have surpassed us numbers wise. The trouble is, of course, that Boomers are not quite ready to ride of into the sunset. If this weekend can mean anything beyond a day of doing communal service, it may be the fact that our generation still has much to do and, for many, the time and resources with which to do it. In our youth, we may have been juggling school, a job, and a host of other issues. Our economic resources may have been limited. But now, for many of us, we have been given a rare opportunity to re-engage in the causes that enlivened our youth. It is never too late to change the world. Indeed, Pirke Avot reminds us that we do not have to save the entire world, just our part of it. Believe me, that is daunting enough!. So, here is a hope. Take this weekend to pick a cause. Take this weekend to focus on just one issue in your area that calls to you to get involved, to make your part of the world a better place. Maybe it will rekindle those feelings of decades ago, those feelings of alturism and unselfish commitment to something greater than our own self. And remember, in doing so, those grandchildren are watching, and listening, and learning.
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.