Posts tagged " generations "

Bye, Bye Baby

August 20th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 10 comments

Just over a week ago, Susan and I were blessed by the arrival of a new granddaughter. Along with her parents, we, her siblings and cousins are excited to welcome her. At the same time, we know many couples of ‘grandparent-age’  who have no grandchildren and, at the moment, see none on the horizon. 

Many of these folks chose to delay marriage and limit the size of their own families wanting to be able to nurture their careers, provide their children with “extras” and save for future college expenses. They encouraged their own children, both sons and daughters, to establish their careers, sample a variety of romantic relationships and enjoy the early years of adulthood before getting married and starting a family. Quite a few of them are still waiting for their now thirties-something children to begin thinking of marriage and children. Some of them have been informed that building a family   isn’t part of their children’s vision and even marriage may or may not happen.  

What seemed like a prudent and good idea for how to organize a family is now causing disappointment and pain. They are facing a yearning for grandchildren, or in some cases great-grandchildren, whom they assumed would naturally come along. They failed to recognize that building a legacy of generations is not an automatic  default condition. 

In the Book of Ruth, Naomi advises her widowed daughter-in-law to get to know a local nobleman by the name of Boaz with an eye to marriage. 

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No Margaritas for Me

November 19th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 10 comments

As the U.S. population ages, many members of the baby boomer group are rejecting the elderly housing paradigm of their parents and grandparents.   An article in  The New York Times describes innovative senior housing in Florida whose name, Latitude Margaritaville, is based on a popular Jimmy Buffett song.  In describing this over 55 housing development designed to resemble a non-stop beach party, the article quotes a University of Iowa anthropologist who says, “We have no shared collective articulation for what later life is for, what the value of living longer is, except not dying…”

I guess that depends on what your definition of “collective” is. The Judeo-Christian tradition has a very clear understanding. While Latitude Margaritaville sounds like a fun place, ancient Jewish wisdom isn’t keen on separating the generations. Listen to this exchange between Moses and Pharaoh.

(Moses relating God’s message) …thus said the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
(Exodus 9:1)

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Forged in Steel

November 13th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 28 comments

You may have heard of the possibly apocryphal tale of the Detroit manufacturer of buggy whips early in the twentieth century.  Although he heard rumors of a newfangled horseless carriage that some chap called Ford was building down the road, he made no changes to his profitable business.  Needless to say, he was soon out of business.

When steel eventually was discovered in the nineteenth century and began to replace cast iron, a vast part of American and British wealth that lay in the many old-fashioned foundries and iron-casting operations was tossed aside as these now obsolete operations were destroyed and replaced with early forms of steel-making furnaces.  Then Englishman Henry Bessemer invented the Bessemer converter and made possible the economical manufacture of steel, which quickly replaced cast iron as the building material of choice for bridges and other constructions.  All the earlier furnaces were scrapped and replaced with the faster and more efficient system. 

Later, the Bessemer converter itself was replaced with the Siemens Open Hearth Furnace, which in turn was replaced in the middle of the twentieth century with the Electric Arc Furnace.  Innovation, even in the mature steel industry, is not over.  Mini-mills are famously encroaching on larger and less flexible operations many of whom have scrapped their plant and replaced it with several mini-mills.

We all must recognize that change is an inevitable necessity in business.  Regardless of exactly how we serve our fellow humans, we need to wake up every weekday morning asking ourselves, “How has my world changed since yesterday?  What should I be doing differently today?”  In business, we look towards the future.  Tomorrow will be different; embrace it.   

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You Are Not a Cow

November 8th, 2018 Posted by Practical Parenting, Susan's Musings 43 comments

A short while ago, my husband and I answered an ‘Ask the Rabbi’ question about whether deciding not to have children was acceptable. I was struck by the many reader comments we received that were variations of, “Better not to have children if you can’t be a good parent.”

At the same time, on the advice of someone I respect, I picked up a novel aimed at young teens which dealt with a boy overcoming an abusive home. You may remember that I recently wrote a book review recommending a historical fiction book for even slightly younger children that shared a similar premise.

While I saw how engaging this second book was, it troubled me.  There is something wrong in presenting a dysfunctional view of family and society as the norm even if the underlying message is that tribulation can be overcome.  When popular literature and entertainment repeatedly emphasize  a theme, much more than just the intended message can get absorbed.

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Food Memories

September 19th, 2006 Posted by Susan's Musings 1 comment

Cookbooks are spread out all over the table signaling the approach of Rosh HaShana (the beginning of the Jewish year 5767) and heralding the many holidays which trail in Rosh HaShana’s wake. Even though on one of those holidays we abstain from food and drink for 25 hours, the month following the first day of the new year is chock full of feasting. Throw in some children wending their way home for the holidays along with guests for each festive meal and the cooking adds up. Despite that, the cookbooks are actually more for window dressing than for practicality.

That is because each holiday has its own traditional foods and I have no intention of breaking rank this year. Some of those foods, like apples dipped in honey to welcome in a sweet year, will be found universally at Jewish tables. Others, like Pears Helene, have become our own family’s traditions, to the point that a Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) without that dessert would feel lacking. So, while I might add one new side dish or replace the honey cake that my husband tells me he loves but never eats more than one slice from, with a new pastry, for the most part all I do is look at my menus going back to the first year I was married, and make exactly the same things one more time.

I’ve already baked my mandlen otherwise known as soup nuts. (Warning – these bear absolutely no resemblance to items sold under the same name in the local supermarket) I needed to make these soup accompaniments early in order to be able to mail them out to the children who won’t be home for Rosh HaShana. Sending them gives the long distance children a taste of home and a tangible sign that I’m thinking of them and missing them. But there’s way more in the package. Not only are the mandlen concrete evidence of my love, they are also meant to serve as reminders. The recipe I use was handed down to me by my mother and grandmother and when my mother-in-law shared a few of her favorite recipes with me, it was in that treasure trove as well. So the mandlen are meant to remind my children of their origins. They are meant to force the recipients to answer the question of whether these women, and the women from whom they got the recipes so on and so forth, would be proud to claim them as descendants. Whether their actions reflect well on those who came before them, or whether they diminish them.

Another name for Rosh HaShana is The Day of Remembrance. It is a day for Jews to remember from where we come and to hope that our actions reflect well on Him. It is a day for asking God to remember us with mercy rather than with harsh judgment. It is a good day and the beginning of a good month in which to eat foods that link us to our past, because staying true to that past is one of the surest ways to propel ourselves into a good future.

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