Not for Holy Days Only
The good behavior we observe during special occasions should pervade our everyday lives
What we could sure use are some Holy Day customs shaping everyday life. Like on Rosh Hashanah with everyone looking so happy as they crossed East End Avenue at East 81st street on the way to John Finley Walk overlooking the East River. There, with their Temple Shaaray Tefila rabbi, they would symbolically cast their sins into the water. I suggest that everyday failure to do the following should be included in the cast-off sins not to be repeated.
Old, young and in-between walking together ? some slowly to accommodate elder conditions. No one texting or phoning. They are talking together, sharing the talk so no one is left out. And these socially acceptable and socially advanced sins of omission should be tossed into the river. Set an example too, for other faith groups and unbelievers. And reflect on how such actions might create a more caring and also a safer society. The latter condition is now so much on our minds.
And I've been reflecting too on other recent special events like the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jar's "I have a dream" speech, especially related to "little children not being judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." And shouldn't we add, "nor should the tone of one's skin or one's features or size, be valued over content of character." Yet every type leader seems chosen more for their style, (glibness of speech, especially,) than for their substance. Ignored are studies which find shy people often have a greater grasp on reality than extroverts do.
As for young, old and in-between connections, Grandparents Day, the first Sunday after Labor Day, again got short shrift, with no mention of the grandmother in the White House. Few elders are seen on the campaign trails, The Times said Bill deBlasio's bi-racial family is the new "modern family," but only the husband, wife and two children are ever visible. Christine Quinn's elder father was sometimes included on her campaign trail.
Elders do vote, the population is aging and yet in general, they, especially the fastest growing 85-plus group, are absent from campaign ads and rallies. "Do not judge skin tone etc. over content of character." And I'd vote for anyone who made ageism an issue, as well as apartheid by age.
And to forever remember 9/11, too little remembered is that former Temple Emanuel rabbi Rabbi Martin J. Zion and his wife Jane lost their son Chuck on that most terrible of days. "The pain never goes away." said this bereaved mother in 2011. But this quote from Rabbi Zion's 1980 homily aired in this paper pertains to our segregation by age concern, and that the young are inclined to riot not reason.
"Our fixation on autonomy has been psychologically devastating. It has surely destroyed the family. The old, in their pursuit of independence end up alone. The young isolating themselves from the old in their yearning for freedom, end up confused and depressed by problems they could have handled so much better if aided by the experience of the elder generation." I suggest the old have had "being independent" of their families thrust upon them.
"It's a time of new beginnings," said the Temple Emanuel's rabbi on NY1 in 2013, Well, I can't think of a more needed "new beginning," than young, old and in-between sharing more everyday time together. Above all, in families, but in apartment houses, political, civic and faith groups circles. In the work place too. Resolving to, at least, recognize the danger of our "fixation on autonomy" so feared by Rabbi Zion, would give some hope to me and maybe you too ? especially now, for peace in our city, our nation and world.
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