By James Levinson, former spiritual leader at Brattleboro Area Jewish Community, research professor at Tufts University, and alumni parent
Today we pay tribute today to two important legacies. The first—the prime focus of this gathering—is the passing of the Marlboro College torch to it’s next president, continuing the tradition of excellence that includes my long time buddy Tom, Paul LeBlanc, and our dear Ellen. Marlboro matters. It does indeed.
But, as we’ve heard so eloquently stated, we’re also honoring another legacy, nothing less than the international legacy of John F. Kennedy. Kennedy’s primary international legacy did not flourish in the State Department where Alex Shakow and I had the opportunity to serve during the Kennedy and post-Kennedy years. Nor it did flourish in the Defense Department with its expenditures that Kevin just mentioned.
No, the John F. Kennedy international legacy is found in the Peace Corps where the flame—indeed that Towering Task—has been passed over the decades to a series of deeply committed Americans, among them our own Kevin Quigley, much revered by his contemporaries and by that older generation of Kennedy and Sargent Shriver disciples. And if you have doubts about the importance of that legacy to Kevin, just ask him to show you the socks he’s wearing today!
AND…it is now 1:15 PM. In exactly 5 hours and 58 minutes the Jewish New Year will begin. Is this auspicious or what? So let me invite Lynette up her to help us, after the blessing, to welcome the New Year just a bit in advance with the traditional blowing of…what is it? I believe it’s the horn of a goat!
Susan, would you come forward and join Kevin up here? And let me ask our former presidents: Tom, Paul and Ellen, and also Jeffrey Hendrix the son of our founder, to come forward. I ask you, and the assembled eminences here on the platform, to place a hand on the shoulders of Kevin and Susan as we offer this ancient invocation. While it comes from the Jewish and Christian traditions, it has analogues, as our Professor Latif can attest, in the Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and Secular Humanist traditions.
Yivarechecha Adonai viyishmirecha
Ya'er Adonai panav elecha veechuneka
Yisa Adonai panav elecha viyasem lecha shalom
May you both be blessed by all that you deem sacred.
May you both be protected and shielded by all of us who surround you and by all of us who are present here today.
And may you go forth, carrying on your shoulders these grand legacies, as we begin this new and exciting chapter together.
Now go forward you Magnificent Goats, you Rugged Intellectuals, you Global Citizens!
T’kiah g’dulah – [Shofar is blown.]