Recently a New York Times article highlighted the 2015 winners of the Purpose Prize, an annual award given by Encore.org, which honors people overage 60 who are “combining their passion and experience for social good.” In the article, Marc Freedman, founder and chief executive of Encore.org, describes the Purpose Prize as “the opposite of a lifetime achievement award; rather, it’s an investment in what somebody 60 years or older will do next.”
The rationale behind this award is very similar to that of Engage. Engage Jewish Service Corps is designed to help baby boomers—people in their 50s, 60s, and beyond—discover meaningful ways to give back to the community through service. We empower people to contribute their unique skills, talents, and experiences, as we create innovative ways to make a difference.In thinking about Engage, I often reflect on the last paragraph of Psalm 92, a passage called tzadik katamar that is sung in many Jewish prayer services. The psalm teaches us that: The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree and thrive like a cedar in Lebanon.Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God.They shall still bring forth fruit even in old age; they shall be ever fresh and fragrant.They shall proclaim the Lord is just; He is my Rock, in whom there is no flaw.
One of the Hebrew words in the psalm seivah, commonly translated as “old age,“ is found in many passages throughout the Bible, describing the elders of the community. While literally meaning “gray hair,” the term is used in contexts that emphasize the wisdom, honor, and integrity accrued over a lifetime of experiences.
I am continually humbled by the expertise brought to bear by the many volunteers who are already part of our community. If you have not yet become “engaged,” I invite you to join us, as we collectively work to find our purpose, flourishing like palm trees, standing tall like cedars.
This article was originally published in the fall 2015 Engage Connect printed newsletter.