Learning from the Experienced

Make sure to brush your teeth before you go to bed. Go to sleep earlier so you are not so tired in the morning. Get your homework done before you go out with your friends.


These are just some of the many things I used to tell our teenage son during a given day. To those of you who have raised teenagers, you know these reminders go unheeded. I’m sure my parents would say I didn’t listen to them, either, while under their roof, and the majority of parents reading this will report the same of their experiences as teenagers and with their own teenage children. But why is that? Stubbornness could be a reason; over-confidence in one’s decision making skills could be another; so too a desire to be an independent thinker and blaze one’s own path.


It’s a shame, but most of us don’t realize how much easier and fuller life would be if we could allow ourselves to benefit from the hindsight of others. I think about this when I attend our daily morning minyan. Our Morning Minyannaires have hundreds of years of wisdom and life experiences collectively. They have seen major changes not only in our shul but in our world which allows them to take day to day changes in their environments in stride.


Our shul has undergone tremendous changes over the past 150 plus years and future changes I’m expecting will occur at a more rapid pace. We’ve moved multiple times, expanded our physical space, changed Rabbis, altered some rituals and rites, created a “metropolitan” model of synagogues and focused on different types of programming based on our needs at different times. The plaques, old minutes books and confirmation pictures on the walls carry forward our “institutional memory,” but the Morning Minyannaires are a living repository of a vast knowledge base about the synagogue’s history. Many have witnessed and participated in over sixty years of past shul activity and they are a veritable font of hindsight and experience. So when I, along with the Board and Executive Committees, need to make decisions concerning our future, we should realize the precious asset we have in the congregants like the Minyannaires who have been here longer than we have. This is one of the reasons we have past presidents with their vast storehouses of
knowledge and experience as standing members of our Executive Committee.


So consider this in your own lives, as I am doing in guiding our synagogue’s future. Yes, kids, there’s a benefit to brushing one’s teeth before going to bed, to getting enough sleep and to finishing one’s homework in a timely manner. Hindsight tells us this. As we look to the future, learning from the likes of our Morning Minyannaires, past presidents and members who have been here for the long haul is the wise decision to make.

When foresight meets hindsight we can all benefit.

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