Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m 64?
By DAVID BREAKSTONE
Keep dreaming: When Paul McCartney first raised the question about being needed and fed at the grand old age of 64, Israel was just turning 18.
How old were you in 1966 when Paul McCartney first raised the question about
being needed and fed at the grand old age of 64? How far away did that seem at
the time? (For those not old enough to remember, sorry, but this column may not
be for you.)
Israel was just turning 18. How long ago was that! Hint: When the
song was released, the Six Day War wasn’t yet. But in the intoxicating ardor of
the passionate love affair between Israel and the Diaspora that ensued, who
could have imagined that there would ever be any question about the two of us
growing old together.
But lo and behold, this week Israel turned 64 and
the question begs asking. To the extent that we hold by conventional wisdom (not
to mention the assertions of sundry academicians, essayists and popular
pundits), many who were once enamored of one another have fallen out of love,
and others, who are only now coming of age, were never smitten by it in the
first place. On both sides of the ocean.
Then there is the question as to
what love has to do with need in the first place.
If anything at all. I
am reminded of a set of coffee cups I once received as an anniversary gift. They
were designed as man-andwife figurines with interlocking handles in the shape of
arms. On one it was written “I need you.” On the other, “I love you.” I remember
being struck by the imbalance of the relationship and wondering if any such
liaison could last. Concerning the case at hand, we might also ask which of us –
Israel or the Diaspora – is more in need and which more in love? In the spirit
of Independence Day celebrations, and the ever popular tradition here of
communal singing, I offer my reflection on the matter in a spate of nostalgia
set to the tune immortalized by the Beatles, dedicated to our brethren
The lyrics work if you can carry a tune.
So, “Lend me your
ears and sing me a song / And try not to sing out of key.” In the meantime, “Try
to see it my way / Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong / While you
see it your way / There’s a chance that we might fall apart before too long / We
can work it out and get it straight, or say good night.” Personally, I prefer to
keep dreaming of “getting by with a little help from my friends.”
that I’m older losing my shine Tarnished by the years Will you still be sending
me philanthropy Promising that still one are we?
If I’m still singing “hope to
be free” Though you’d hoped for more Will you still need me, will you still feed
me Now at 64?
You’ve your problems too But know you have my word I will stay
We can be cheeky, pushy and rude Still you know it’s true We will
always want you right here at our side Greeting you with arms opened wide
to meet you, welcome you home Opening the door Don’t you still need me, won’t
you still feed me Now at 64?
Every summer you can send your kids here To relish
their birthright, they will hold it dear
We and you shall pay Grandchildren come
for free We want them to stay
Send me your grievance, tell me your gripe Stating
point of view Indicate precisely what you mean to say Just tell me you won’t go
Give me your answer, tell me that you’re
Mine for evermore
That you still
need me, that you’ll still
Now at 64
Now though we’re older problems are
Challenges are vast
Will you still behold me with your love and awe
Understanding we’ve been at war
Facing the future, proud of the past
Need you to need me, need you to feed me
Now at 64
You’ve your problems
Answering questions like
How to stay a Jew We can be ugly, nasty and crude
But there’s more than that
From our common future we will never
land together we’re tied
Praying for peace but ready to wait
Unsure what’s in
Hoping you’ll need me, hoping you’ll
Now at 64!
Next year in
Jerusalem – a prayer that
Comes from within your heart, that you
love to say
though it’s not quite clear
What do you really mean?
Are you coming here?
you’re angry, I know you’re hurt
Over who’s a Jew
But I want to tell you there
Who sincerely wish you were near
Help us to change things,
Rather than be sore
’Cause you still need me, I that you
Now at 64
The writer is vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization
and a member of The Jewish Agency executive. The opinions expressed herein are