Every once in a while, life hands you one of those opportunities that remind you of truth. These opportunities are often of mixed values.
I have one this month. After a long wait, my son, my first born, will stand under the chupah to be married. He has waited a long time and, in a strange combination of circumstances, he met someone , fell in love and will be married. The anticipation is palpable as is the joy in the event. He has never been happier and the woman he is marrying is perfect for him. His transition to this stage of life has been wonderful to observe and we can only wish for them, years of joy and health and blessings.
I will stand with my son under that chupah and officiate at this ceremony. It is an event that has slowly, as the day grows closer, impacted me in ways I could not imagine. I was a “dad” when my daughter got married. That was her choice and I was glad of it as it was very emotional and I knew it would be. SO, why is this so different? Why is the emotional impact more slow to engage, and so different? Perhaps one reason is that my mother, who died two years ago, will be present only in spirit. There will be no “buffer” generation on either side. Perhaps, and as the day gets closer I think this is the real issue, it is the realization that this is a not so subtle reminder of my own aging. He is the last of our family to be married. His marriage comes just three months before I transition out of full time rabbinic work to pursue my work in aging as well as my teaching. The reality of these twin transitions, I think, are slowly combining to remind me, in a not so subtle way, that nothing remains the same. Judaism is a religious belief system that teaches that change is a natural and welcome part of life and that how we choose to adapt to those changes really determines who we are and how we live.
It is, of course, easy to teach this. To live it, however, is quite another matter. But then again, life is like that, as all of us know. Our life is one continuous transition and we are called upon to embrace it not out of fear but out of love and through a prism of personal and spiritual growth. We are always going to an unknown place, the future.
Welcome to it.
And Mazel Tov to Alan and Debbie.
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.