2011-05-06 / Columnists

Point of View

“The Rabbi’s Personal Column”
Rabbi Allan Blaine Temple Beth-El, Rockaway Park

Very soon our national late-spring rite will be held throughout the land. In late May and June graduations from all kinds of educational institutions will take place. It is at this particular season of the year that we consider this newest generation, where it is and where it is going.

Young people today perhaps more than ever before need role models…parents and teachers who can direct their lives and implant meaningful and lasting values. For youth wants indeed needs guidelines. There has been a great ruckus about teachers and seniority, but the gist of the matter is that what we need are skilled teachers who can lead a new generation to take their places in the future.

Parents who lead hollow, empty and shallow lives, who use recreational drugs on the weekends, whose problems with alcoholism bring horrendous road accidents can hardly give anything worthwhile to youth to hold onto. Teachers and parents who are inauthentic, disinterested cannot give authentic moral and ethical direction.

The purpose of school is not merely to fill the mind with a mass of knowledge, but more importantly to bring youth to the threshold of the mind, to the mountain top from which they can see broad and beautiful vistas and valleys.

There is a beautiful tale told of a man who found it necessary to visit his neighbor on a wintry day when the snow was on the ground. As he was trudging through the snow drifts he heard a voice call, “be careful daddy I am walking in your footsteps.” Whether we know it or not children invariably walk in their parents or inspired teacher’s footsteps. Our task is to make them secure so that they will not slip.

Many mocked the recent British Royal Wedding. I personally enjoyed watching the pomp and ceremony and I believe many others felt the same way. Everybody loves a fairy tale, but there is more to the Windsor Wedding than that. For thirty years the Queen, the country and the world have looked upon her royal family seeing its many shenanigans and shameful acts and wondered whether the monarchy of a thousand years will continue. Now a new time seems to have come for the royal family, a new chance and a new beginning, a new investment in the younger generation of British royalty. This I am sure is what many saw and felt as one million spectators gathered and cheered the wedding. And I say good luck to them. The story is told of the English ship, the Titanic – the captain in the midst of disaster called his crew together and said to them, “in the hours ahead you will be called upon for extra ordinary feats of valor and fortitude. My advice to you is simply in two words, “be British.” Apparently the most pragmatic attitude that one can give to a new generation of graduates is, “be American” and fulfill the ideals and the precepts of our nation. A model of democracy and of liberty and freedom.

As we honor our graduates we pray that they will take their places in our society in the years ahead, but praying is not enough. They must also heed the danger signs as we their role models keep in mind that we are the ancestors of the future generation of American leadership. They walk in our footsteps.


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Hey Rabbi, While I agree,

Hey Rabbi, While I agree, parents of dubious moral and personal character undermine the the young lives of the children they're obligated to raise, I'm not sure your reference to the English and their ostentatious display of wealth and excess--in the form of a royal wedding--is something I'd point to as a high water mark for role models. The whats and whys folk behave as they do, with or without children can--at times--seem mystifying. Yet, I think tossing the boob-tube out and spending real time with one another might be a step in the correct direction. The electronic domain has more to do with undermining the family than any other factor in our time, including the absence of royal role models. From television to games, twitter & e-mail, cel phones and computers; real contact & quality interaction is eroding. Addressing these ills may be more to the point of your editorial.

Dear Rabbi, I would ask that

Dear Rabbi, I would ask that the next time you mention anything about the British, try to understand the history of the Irish and Irish Americans. In your article, Words like alcoholic, and shenanigians, are negitive terms in the Irish community. Have you seen the movie The Titanic? Do you understand why there is no love for the royals? Also, The Titanic, as you refer to as the "English Ship", it was built by the Irish in Belfast; (the Prostestants & Catholics). Yes, Rabbi the purpose of school is not merely to fill their mind of a mess of knowledage, but to find the real truth of that knowledage, and where it comes from.

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