Not every graduate is so lucky as to hear a commencement address from such an illustrious speaker as their JCC chief executive officer, but the preschoolers at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, California, were treated to a special message from CEO Zack Bodner as they – and their parents – prepared to move on from the Leslie Family Preschool to kindergarten.
We liked his message so much we thought we’d share it with all the rest of our JCCs. Whether you are a graduating preschooler, or someone a bit older (and perhaps wiser), we think you’ll enjoy it.
Good evening. Welcome to all the families here tonight. And to the graduates — welcome to the first day of the rest of your lives!
I have always wanted to be invited to give a speech at a commencement ceremony. That’s one of my bucket list items. And since I’m not sure it will ever happen, I decided to use my remarks tonight to deliver that speech.
I’m guessing that since you parents have kids who are preschool age, you probably don’t have kids who are old enough to also be graduating high school, much less college. So it may have been awhile since you heard a good commencement address. And if you can’t hear a good address, you might as well enjoy this one.
How many of you have heard of Winston Churchill? No. How about England — who here has heard of England? No. How about the queen? 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. 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 apologies 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 who 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 a 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 real, human interaction that someone you love longs 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.
As we send these preschool graduates off into the real world … of kindergarten … whatever it is you’ve been meaning to do, please: DON’T WAIT.