Must we eventually excise the words “l’dor vador”?

Among the innumerable poetically powerful passages in our prayers is the statement: “l’dor vador nagid godlecha” or “l’dor vador halleluyah” in the Ashkenazi and Sephardi liturgy respectively. It appears in the reader’s repetition of the Amidah. Variations of the statement appear in other prayers.

It is a succinct public proclamation to God (and to fellow congregants) in the company of the entire congregation that our connection to God and to the people is an eternal commitment – l’dor vador – from one generation to the next.

How will we be able to do that in the years to come if more and more young people are slipping away from us, from counting themselves meaningfully within the Jewish people? Shall the statement only apply in the future to the observant minority of the Jewish people? Will it have to be excised from many of our prayer books?

L’dor vador is descriptive of the relationship that we have had with God and with each other since the beginning of our time as the Jewish people. But it is and must also always be prescriptive of our behaviour. Each generation must do its utmost to ensure the statement will be truthful for the generation that follows.

That means young Jews must be familiar with and even knowledgeable of the definition points of our peoplehood: faith, traditions, values, history, and language. And that means of course, that the older generation must facilitate that familiarity and knowledge to the younger generation.

The best, though not sole, way of raising and fostering knowledgeable Jews is through intensive Jewish education. And that is why – over and over again – we urge the community to take every possible collective and communal step to make Jewish education affordable for all families that wish it for their children.

If falls therefore upon all of us – institutions and individuals – who regard “l’dor vador” as words of active obligation rather than simply of wishful portraiture to actually do something to help make it true for tomorrow as well as for today.

The Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto has established a fund specifically dedicated to helping make Jewish education affordable: The Jewish Tuition Assistance Fund.

The month of Elul begins in just over a week. Traditionally, it is the time of year and for some of us, the time of life as well, when we reflect upon who we are as human beings and as Jews. Perhaps this year those reflections will yield in us a strong resolve to do our respective parts to ensure that l’dor vador does not stop with our generation or the next but that it will be true and have meaning for all time to come.

Thus we urge: Please consider contributing to the tuition assistance fund.

Doing nothing risks everything.

And as our great teacher Hillel said: “If not now, when?”

•••

Shabbat Shalom.

GAJE

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