You all face several tough years, whether you are in school, college, or in the job market. The virus will persist. Vaccine will take years to be widely distributed; it will not be fully protective; and the virus, like others of its kind, will mutated, requiring new vaccines. The economic effects will linger for years. I tried to help each of you in one way or another, but this will far from enough to smooth to the road ahead of you. I hence wanted to tell you that hard work, which in turn requires dedication to a calling you consider meaningful, can help you cope.
I was a child when Hitler took over Germany. Most of my extended family, perished. Family assets were confiscated. We had to wear a Yellow Star, and thus were abused on the street. I had to drop out of kindergarten. My parents fled before me. My main memory is of fear, anxiety, and tensions.
When we arrive in Palestine, I went to school without knowing a word of the language. My parents tried to farm, though they had no preparation for such work. We were never hungry but I was never sure that my parents could pay next month bill. My mother dropped me at boarding school, at a young age. I dropped out of Hi School to go fighting — for three and half years. When war was over, no college would accept me because I was a drop out, and my parents could not contribute to my upkeep. This was my state on 1/1/1950.
Eight years later, in 1/1/1958, I got a Ph.D. at one of the best universities. Two years later I gained tenure at Columbia U. and served a visiting professor at Berkeley and Harvard. I served in the White House. Testified before Congress. I was heard some in the academia and in the public. I made enough money to support my mother (who was in as assisted living for 33 years) and the rest of my family, leading with five sons. I dedicated myself to my family, my best project. I believe I did not miss any graduations or birthdays or other such events and was always available to talk and support, though I am sure my sons may not see it exactly the same way. Nor was this a oneway street; I had a good, meaningful, lasting relationship with Hava, Minerva, and Pat and got a lot of joy from my grandkids though hardly quite the same from all of them.
The secret, at first, may seem long hours and dedication to task. (There is a better term in Hebrew, sticking to the goal). However, I could not have done that, if I did not believe with whole heart that what I was doing was meaningful, that dedication to family and the common good, are what compelled me.
So take heart. You can make it, each in your own way, and let me know if I can help.