One thing we often lose sight of as we grapple with and debate the dilemmas of the moment is the Jewish historical continuum; the links in a chain that go back thousands of years and that connect us to future eras. The interconnectedness of generations to each other, the ways in which we hold a responsibility to past and future, and how we transmit our values across eons is one of my favorite frameworks of how we are with each other as a Jewish people. We articulate this concept in our commitment to being L’dor vador – from generation to generation.
This is a ubiquitous term in Judaism and I usually shy away from meaningful terms turned cliché, but not today. L’dor vador is the recognition that we each are taking responsibility to transmit timeless values and national memory, while grappling with the challenges of the moment. It is about us learning from our elders and then leading by example– for and with the next generation and beyond– and leaving a legacy.
Part of the legacy that we receive – going back to the ancient rabbis and now on to our children – is the deeply held value of acts of kindness and service to others.
In the Talmud (Sukkah) Rabbi Elazar said:
Greater is the performance of acts of kindness than charity… because charity is akin to sowing, with the potential to yield something later, while acts of kindness are like reaping when produce has already grown, and will surely lead to fulfillment.
L’dor vador we have a responsibility to others, both to take it upon ourselves, and to create the opportunities for the next generation to learn and practice this as well. At JCRC, that means we have grown from a generation of leaders who have made helping elementary school children in Boston’s public schools discover the joy of reading and encouraged so many others to join them; to a young couple who invested their time, energy, and resources into creating an opportunity for other young adults to participate in ongoing volunteerism with their peers; to a family to whom service is so important, that their children have followed in their parents’ footsteps in providing service to the greater community in a Jewish context.
A few months ago I told you about the amazing privilege I have of working at an organization that deeply connects with my sense of purpose – part of that rootedness is that we believe engaging in service as Jews within the broader society not only acknowledges inequality and injustice, but also addresses unmet needs. JCRC’s community service programs engage hundreds of volunteers dedicated to creating and sustaining meaningful partnerships with community based organizations. Collectively, we act on our shared commitment to social justice through volunteer service and by building strong connections with partners throughout Greater Boston.
On September 17th, JCRC will celebrate Generations of Service by honoring those who exemplify a commitment to service L’dor vador, passing along their values to make the world better for future generations. Please take a moment to learn more about these honorees – the Recks, the Goodmans, and the Bussgangs – and consider joining us to learn more about opportunities at JCRC to be part of a legacy of service.