Sharing The Experience of a Lifetime?

As many of us were, I was riveted to much of the TV coverage of the recent events in Charleston, SC. I found it fascinating when TV reviewed the civil rights history of the past 50-60 years. I could not help but reflect back on many of those days, of where I was and what I had done. It was only natural to take some time to look back as the news continued to unfold of events in the Middle East and the Supreme Court rulings on health care and marriage equality. To borrow a line from a favorite Simon and Garfunkel song, “what a time it was”!
This thinking led me to a small idea that may be of value. I trotted it out at a recent convention of cantors. The idea really sprouted from some Torah study and the charge to bring together elders of a community. What would happen if congregations convened a sort of modern “Sanhedrin” of older adults for the express purpose of having them reflect on some of the issues of our day from the perspective of the life experience they have lived.
Think about the mentoring possibilities. Think about the inter-generational possibilities to teach those teens and/or young adults how history really works, of how involvement in social justice causes can make a difference. We are being told that every baby boomer now alive is at least 50 years of age. We are also being told by the census people that as of this year, Millennials have surpassed Boomers as the largest cohort; that 23 year olds are the future. Think about the possibilities of having Boomers and Millennials together for no other reason that to have the life experience of these past 50 or so years passed down. Think about the change in our country, our self and our Judaism from, say, November 22, 1963 to now. Are there not some lessons there?
As many of you are involved in developing plans for next program year, let me suggest that this “meeting of the generations” could be an interesting beginning to a needed dialogue. No better way to bring to life the liturgical phrase of “l’dor va dor”( from generation to generation) I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Rabbi Richard F. Address

1 Comment

  1. I had the same feelings. I was an organizer between 1970 and 1982. I put together with the ACLU National Prison Project to close down the behavior modification that the Federal Bureau of Prisons was piloting at the Marion Federal Prison. In that capacity and through the coalitions that I helped bring together, I was involved in human rights on a national and international scale. Obama’s words were like a “Balm of Giead”
    It brought me back to the day. Although I am no longer a full time organizer, I have never changed my beliefs. the AME church has always been on the front lines in the fight for freedom. I ended the day of Rev Pickney’s funeral by watching an excellent documentary on Netflix about Nina Simone, one of the voices for change. I encountered her in Cairo, Illinois in 1970. There was a big rally and I was just just making the transition from student to organizer. They dragged the old piano out of the Catholic Church that was the headquarters of the United Front and she literally sang in the streets. It really connected me to my past selves. Of all the truths in your book Seekers” the one that has stuck with me is focusing on developing a wholeness between your past selves and your present selves. I find people our age who are the most at peace with themselves are the ones who have figured out how to synthesize their life experiences. They are the least likely to have regrets and cherish the truths they learned on the way to be at peace in the present and for the future.

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