From the Rabbi - November 2013 Print
Dear Friends:

You may not realize that I am now six months away from retirement.  May 2014 will see me turning 75 years of age, a milestone I never imagined passing, especially since both my parents died in their early sixties.  The impending arrival of this transitional point has caused me to reflect on my life and my career, but I don’t want to become maudlin and soupy.

An interview with Graham Nash that I heard on Sirius XM Radio in my car the other day did, however, cause me to think back to music that I enjoyed decades ago.  You may remember Nash from the folk-rock group, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.  There’s a song that I recall with considerable fondness.  It’s called “Teach Your Children,” and you can access it on YouTube.  The line that I particularly find appealing says:

    “Teach your children well…and feed them on your dreams.”

All of us are intent on teaching our children (and grandchildren) well.  We spend time with them; we read to them; we help them with their homework; we offer them extra-curricular experiences to enrich their lives.  Our children and grandchildren are indeed fortunate and blessed to have us as conscientious guides and mentors as they grow into adulthood.

And yet, what about dreams?  I wonder how many of us feed the next generations on our dreams.  I’m not talking about dreams of what they might become.  All youngsters know intuitively what their parents and grandparents want for them.  If you ask the young people, they will, of course, say that their elders want them to be happy and healthy and secure, but they also know that we want them to be a particular kind of professional (lawyer, doctor, chief).  Maybe they also realize that we also want them to become the kind of person who will give back to society, who will help change the world for the better, who has a conscience and a soul and who will be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.  They know this already.

I wonder how many of us have shared the dreams we have about ourselves.  This requires a couple of challenging steps.  First, you have to identify your own dreams.  What did you want your life to become, especially when you were younger?  Did you try to make your dream into a reality, or did life’s compromises shelve your dreams in favor of more pragmatic goals? If you followed your dreams, did you succeed, in part or fully, or did you fall short of achievement?  What were your dreams and how did they work out?

I think it is valuable and important to talk with the next generation(s) about your own dreams.  The nourishment they receive when you tell them about your own aspirations, about the real world you confronted and how that affected your fondest hopes, can encourage them to dream for themselves.  It can also develop a much stronger relationship with you as a real person, not as an idealized image, as someone with hopes and dreams, someone who has had successes and failures, but also as someone who has persevered.  

So feed your children on your dreams.  It’s time to share your dreams with them.  That is the way that you can teach them well.                            
 
Sincerely yours,
    Kenneth D. Roseman, Rabbi