Help For Boomers


Gary Rosenblatt’s “Move Over Millennials” (Between the Lines, March 21) surfaces apparent imbalances in focus as well as new funding in the Jewish “field.” As someone fortunate to be involved in Birthright’s start-up years, it’s truly amazing and encouraging that 350,000 young adult Jews were provided with a unique opportunity to connect/re-connect to their cultural “belonging.” The new mega-funded national initiative, The Alliance, focusing on enhancing the talent pipeline for emerging professionals, is also much needed.

However, it’s hard to disagree with Rosenblatt’s subheading “Neglecting the Boomers” and the novel B3 initiative of David Elcott /Stuart Himmelfarb to re-engage baby boomers in Jewish life.  Thousands upon thousands who “retire” each year can be positioned as a new infusion of Jewish resources serving younger Jews and institutions.  Prof. Elcott laments on the relative lack of communal interest in these boomers “takes us down a negative path.”

One subset of Jewish boomers approaching “retirement” age are hundreds upon hundreds of pros who have devoted forty years to increasingly more impactful positions in all Jewish nonprofits- (federations, human services, Day Schools, synagogues, camps, JCCs, etc.).  These dedicated, long tenured pros, however, won’t “retire” like their parents.  Most have 20+ years of life ahead. And, they seek to contribute in different, yet meaningful ways… after having “selflessly” focused for decades on their constituency’s needs. Do not our Jewish institutions and philanthropies, owe something?

Sadly, the support these good folks merit for smooth transitions from agency life to new lives, often with encore careers, appears quite low on funding agendas. Can funding priorities be better balanced for all generations? First step? Re-calibrate priorities and provide small funding for their transitioning and re-connecting through supporting initiatives such as workshops now available to boomers.

Boston University Graduate School of Management