The tradition of Tikkun Olam, the repair of the world, is among Judaism’s greatest gifts to humanity. My life has been shaped by a culture dedicated to healing the sick, protecting the weak, and providing for the needy. But our tradition teaches us that the work of Tikkun Olam may never be finished. Certainly one life span, however long, is in the end not a very long time. We can hope, however, to leave the world a little bit better than we found it.

My work as a trauma surgeon has taught me that one is never too young to have a will. As I prepared mine, I thought carefully about providing for those I love. I also thought carefully about providing for the world they would inherit. Would that world provide the same resources and opportunities that I enjoyed? The institutions that had made my life more meaningful – the schools, synagogues, and charities – would they be there for my loved ones and for future generations? Would there even be future generations of Jews in a hundred, or five hundred, or a thousand years without secure Jewish institutions tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that?

I will not be there to ensure the strength of the synagogues, community centers, and agencies that will serve the Jewish world in five hundred years. What I can do, and will do through my planned gifts, is help to make sure that the Jews of the next generation will have the tools to create a vibrant Jewish life for their great-grandchildren, who will in turn become the great-grandchildren of that distant generation. We live as Jews today because our ancestors taught their children to see into the future and care about the world their great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren would inherit. Since I have no children of my own, I see the gifts I have arranged in my will as my stake in our shared future. They will be my next generation.