Zack Bodner
Seeker | Writer | Storyteller | Community Builder | Doer

2015 Graduation Message: Don’t Wait!

I have always wanted to be invited to give a speech at a commencement ceremony. And since I am not sure it will ever happen, I decided to use my remarks at our OFJCC Leslie Family Preschool Graduation Ceremony to deliver that speech. Enjoy!

How many of you have heard of Winston Churchill? No. How about England – who here has heard of England? No. How about the Queen? Okay, how many of you have ever dressed up as a Queen?

Okay, so for those of you who have heard of Winston Churchill, you may also know the legend that he gave the shortest commencement address in history?

And who remembers what his three famous words were?

That’s right: NEVER GIVE IN. He delivered that in 1941 at Harrow School.

Well I am going to one-up Winston Churchill. For my commencement address is only going to be two words. And they are: DON’T WAIT.

Okay, yes, for those of you counting, I’ve already gone over my two-word limit. And since I have, I am going to say a few more words. But, by the way, so did Winston Churchill. It is only an urban legend that he said no more.

This past year was a tough one for me, having gone through what I did with my dad. But I learned that important lesson: DON’T WAIT.

And that’s what I want to say to all of you today: DON’T WAIT.

If there is that trip you have always wanted to go on, say, to Disneyland or Lego Land, kids – take your parents now: DON’T WAIT.

If there is that new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, the one that serves chocolate fudge sundaes for breakfast, kids – go tomorrow: DON’T WAIT.

If there is that new movie you’ve been meaning to see, the one where Batman and Spiderman team up with Wonder Woman, kids – make your parents take you tonight: DON’T WAIT.

If there are those words you’ve been waiting to say to your loved ones, like to your big sister, “Hey, I’m sorry I flushed Barbie’s head down the toilet”: DON’T WAIT.

If there is that old friend you’ve been meaning to get back in touch with, that one from Ulpanon Aleph that moved back to Israel, kids – take your parents to Israel to visit them now: DON’T WAIT.

If there is that dress you’ve been holding onto for the right occasion, the one your mom put up too high in the closet because she didn’t want you to get chocolate pudding on it, tell her you want to wear it to bed tonight: DON’T WAIT.

If there is that sporting event you’ve been dying to go to, maybe the NBA finals with the Warriors, it doesn’t matter that you may fall asleep during the game and your dad will wonder if it was a good investment to buy you a ticket, kids – tell your dad you want him to take you with him this time: DON’T WAIT.

And to you parents out there, if there is the real, human interaction that someone you love is dying to have with you – the question about the birds and bees, the very gentle and reasonable request to bake cookies at midnight, the demand to not go to bed, the temper tantrum on the grocery store floor – please enjoy those moments with them now. Put away your distractions and be present: DON’T WAIT.

And lastly, if there are causes and organizations you care about, that you want to see succeed, don’t put off supporting them until you have more time or more money – give meaningfully now: DON’T WAIT.

So as we send these graduates off into the real world … of kindergarten … whatever it is you’ve been meaning to do, please: DON’T WAIT.

Thank you and good night.

About the Author
Zack Bodner is the President and CEO of the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, CA and the Founder of the Z3 Project, an effort to reimagine Diaspora-Israel relations. He is the author of "Why Do Jewish: A Manifesto for 21st Century Jewish Peoplehood," a #1 Amazon New Release in Religion and Philosophy. Learn more at Zack lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and three kids.
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