Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Young and Dynamic and 124/78

As Arnold Fine used to say, “I remember when…” In this case, I remember when I was young and dynamic.

Among the absurdly overworked laudatory cliches used to describe and address rabbis –“tireless,” “thankless,” “I’ve heard such wonderful things about you” etc – one of my favorites is “young and dynamic.” As in, “Our young and dynamic rabbi is very involved with our youth group, our basketball league, our Hebrew school…”

I kid you not: A Google search for rabbi and “young and dynamic” yields 604 results. The first page alone includes:

Rabbi Elad-Appelbaum and three of her female rabbinic colleagues are emblematic of the face of today’s Masorti movement: young and dynamic role models

But the young people see that she is young and dynamic and gives something up of herself. She brings what a rabbi is into focus

It was a Reform (liberal) synagogue and there I met a young and dynamic Rabbi who showed me that Judaism could be open, wonderful and loving.

another young and dynamic rabbi, who was soon to become famous (from Jonathan Sarna, no less!)

The Siyum (conclusion of the writing of the Torah) was heralded by Rabbi Alex Mondrow, the young and dynamic spiritual leader of Congregation Birkat Shmuel

Rabbi Kanefsky is a young and dynamic orthodox rabbi, with a strong sense of social justice

…and so on… Even the phrase “dynamic young rabbi” yields 206 results.

And is theres any shul out there seeking a rabbi that doesn't put "seeking a young, dynamic rabbi" in their search description?

I am only 36, and I’ll challenge anyone to find an aspect of our shul or community to which I don’t devote serious time and energy, but I don’t feel like “young and dynamic” makes sense as a description for me anymore.

Maybe it’s because I have four kids.
Maybe it’s because I am starting to get visible silver on my temples.
Maybe it’s because I’m no longer in the “young” set at the gym.
Maybe it’s because doctors no longer say, “I’ve never seen such a young rabbi” when I visit their hospital patients.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been a rabbinic mentor for three years now.

Or maybe it’s because I gave blood on Sunday and they took my blood pressure and it was 124/78. For many years I was a 110/70 guy, so I looked this new number up on-line and found out that this was once considered safe - but no longer; now it’s called “prehypertension.”

To quote the folks at the Mayo Clinic, Prehypertension is a systolic pressure from 120 to 139 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or a diastolic pressure from 80 to 89 mm Hg.

In truth, it could be that I scored high because I get anxious about having people stick long needles into my veins. Or it could be a blip from Shabbos food. Or it could be from my anticipation of a day that included running storytime programs for toddlers, teaching a class, being on basketball duty for the kids, preparing two classes and attending our shul Chanukah concert. But my prehypertension is making me tense.

Still: They can take away the “young” from me, but they can’t rob me of “dynamic.” I wonder whether any shuls look for "old and dynamic rabbis."


  1. you're as young as you feel like feeing ;)

    BP will change - did you "rush in" to your appointment - that makes a huge difference...has it been going up over time?

  2. Hi Shorty,

    I don't know whether it's been going up. I should check it in the supermarket or CVS every once in a while, I suppose, but the thought of seeing someone I know while doing that... it's almost enough to make me shell out for my own machine.


    How to Cope When You're Feeling Old

    enjoy! :)

  4. most people don't take blood pressure correctly (even in doctors' offices), so i wouldn't get worried about one (probably incorrectly measured) reading of 124. for example, did they take once or 3 times? at what level where they holding your arm? where you sitting, standing or lying down?

    and did they use the gold standard (mercury sphygmomanometer)

    and was your fluid intake different that day? or did you drink coffee?

    there is also a phenomenon called white coat hypertension.

    (this comment was left not for purposes of רפואה למעשה and obviously you should consult your local primary health care provider for further guidance.)

  5. Larry,
    Great link; thanks. I was in Chicago for a visit last year, when I thought I might be moving; is that what you meant?


    Good points, all of them. This was certainly only a casual, "let's make sure we don't kill him when we take his blood" check. I know I should go get it checked for real... but I'm afraid to find out it really is an issue.

  6. Lion is right. 124/78 is totally not a blood pressure to worry about. I've seen much worse. And if it inspires you to improve your daily habits (exercise and diet), it might actually be a good thing.

  7. Mrs. Pom-
    Thanks for visiting. If you are whom I think you are, you know my diet is all right...