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
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.