It’s not easy being a statistic. Since the media first started reporting that the oldest baby boomers would hit 65 this year, I’ve felt that the lives of my fellow baby boomers have become research fodder. It’s difficult to pick up a newspaper without reading about our life expectancy, attitudes towards aging, lifestyle preferences, marketing habits, social media usage, and even our finances, not to mention the emotional state of mind among those of us born between 1946 and 1964.
I’m not dismissing these statistics. After all, 29 percent of Jews in the United States are between 50 and 64, according to the latest research findings. Significantly, the 2005 Greater Boston Jewish Community Study commissioned by CJP showed a demographic bulge among baby boomers, ages 50-59.
Sometimes thought I feel we are so hung up with numbers that we are missing the obvious. I wish we could sit down and have a conversation about what Jewish boomers want and have the community can engage us. Simple, no?
Here are the questions I keep asking myself: Will Jewish boomers continue to society? Can the Jewish community engage us in a meaningful way? And ist he concept of encore careers realistic or simply a pipe dream in today’s fragile economy?
Perhaps it’s time to turn conventional wisdom upside down. Unlike the “silent” generation, we boomers have challenged the status quo and defied convention, from career choices to lifestyles and spiritual expression. It’s our generation that changed the stereotypes and redefined the role of women. We’re also the ones who devised new rituals to mark personal moments and lifecycle transitions.
As a whole, we’re well educated and financially secure. We seek to derive true meaning from our lives. And if the Jewish community cannot fulfill this need, we are willing to look outside, according to the 2010 Elcott report, “Baby Boomers, Public Service, and Minority Communities: A Case Study of the Jewish Community in the United States.”
My husband and I have always been synagogue members. But I also recognize that, unlike my parents’ generation, many empty-nesters will not retain organizational affiliations if they don’t feel engaged, spiritually connected, or valued. And when community dollars, programming, and communications seem primarily targeted at young families, is it any wonder that some boomers feel disconnected from the mainstream?
On the flip side, there’s an opportunity staring us in the face. Boomers are on an ongoing quest for spiritual nourishment and personal fulfillment. By targeting boomer needs heads-on, innovative institutions can engage and re-engage our burgeoning Jewish boomer population. There’s certainly no shortage of resources in Greater Boston, e.g. Hebrew College, synagogues, JCCs, meet-up grups and orther organizations. Who knows, maybe the right appeal can reach lifelong unaffiliated Jewish boomers who are now seeking new meaning at this stage in their lives.
Jewish boomers are not just a statistic. We represent a wide variety of interests, background, and religious beliefs. And with our extensive professional and volunteer experience, we can strengthen the jewish community. But if we are to remain connected, we need to be actively engage in a meaningful way. Don’t risk losing us forever.
Now can we talk?