Transcript: A Centenarian's View of the Pandemic | Jun 04, 2020

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of George Drew and one of Walter Kronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a pale blue shirt and a checked blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "A centenarian's view of the pandemic. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says FOR ALMOST EVERYONE WATCHING THIS PROGRAM RIGHT NOW, COVID-19 IS THE FIRST SERIOUS GLOBAL PANDEMIC YOU HAVE EVER LIVED THROUGH. THAT IS NOT THE CASE FOR BERNARD BASKIN, WHO RECENTLY TURNED 100 YEARS OLD, AND WHILE HE MAY NOT HAVE VIVID FIRSTHAND MEMORIES OF THE SPANISH FLU A CENTURY AGO, HE DID LIVE THROUGH IT. MR. BASKIN WAS THE RABBI AT TEMPLE ANSHE SHOLOM IN HAMILTON ONTARIO AND HIS RABBINICAL CAREER IN TOTAL LASTED 60 YEARS. IN FACT, YOU COULD SAY IT CONTINUES BECAUSE HE'S STILL A FREQUENT LECTURER AT THE RUSSELL HILL RETIREMENT RESIDENCE IN MIDTOWN TORONTO, WHERE HE NOW LIVES. AND WITH THAT, WE WELCOME RABBI BERNARD BASKIN TO THE PROGRAM.

Mr. Baskin is 100, with receding white hair and a mustache. He's wearing a checkered blue suit and a white shirt.

Steve continues RABBI, SO GOOD TO SEE YOU. HOW ARE YOU DOING?

Mr. Baskin says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, STEVE. IT'S MY PRIVILEGE AND HONOUR TO BE HERE. YOU'RE A HOUSEHOLD NAME IN THIS COMMUNITY. TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH YOU IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER IS A RARE PRIVILEGE. SO I'M DELIGHTED TO BE HERE AND EXCHANGE SOME VIEWS WITH YOU.

Steve says RABBI, AS MY WIFE LIKES TO REMIND ME, I'M A HOUSEHOLD NAME IN MY OWN HOME. LET'S MOVE ON FROM THAT... THAT'S A VERY NICE THING FOR YOU TO SAY BUT WE'RE GOING TO MOVE ON. I WANT TO ASK YOU THE BIG, HEAVY QUESTION RIGHT OFF THE TOP BECAUSE THERE ARE A LOT OF VERY NICE, LOVELY, INNOCENT PEOPLE BEING KILLED RIGHT NOW BY A GLOBAL PANDEMIC THAT THEY HAD NO HAND IN CREATING, AND PEOPLE MAY BE ASKING THEMSELVES: WHERE IS GOD IN ALL OF THIS RIGHT NOW? HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER THAT?

The caption changes to "Bernard Baskin. Rabbi."

Mr. Baskin says WELL, AS YOU TRAVEL YOU REALIZE, THIS IS A VERY COMPLICATED, INTRICATE, EXTREMELY IMPORTANT QUESTION. I THINK MY ANSWER WOULD BE, IF I CAN ANSWER IT AS SIMPLY AS I CAN, IS THAT I CAN TELL YOU WHERE GOD IS. GOD IS AMONG THE DOCTORS. GOD IS AMONG THE CARE-GIVERS. GOD IS AMONG THOSE PEOPLE WILLING TO GIVE OF THEIR TIME, THEIR EFFORT, SOMETIMES THEIR LIVES TO HELP OTHERS. GOD IS IN LOVING KINDNESS. GOD IS NOT A NOUN, AS I UNDERSTAND GOD. GOD IS A VERB. GOD IS AN ACTION. AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTIVE IN TRYING TO SAVE THE LIVES OF OTHERS, TO GIVE OF THEMSELVES, SOMETIMES BY WAY OF HAND OR OF MOUTH, THESE ARE THE MESSENGERS OF THE LORD AND GOD WORKS THROUGH THEM IN THESE VERY DIFFICULT, COMPLEX, AND UNHAPPY TIMES.

Steve says I'M SURE YOU'VE HAD TO DEAL WITH THIS QUESTION IN THE PAST AS IT RELATES TO ANY NUMBER OF AWFUL TRAGEDIES IN THE WORLD, I'M SURE JEWS HAVE ASKED YOU, RABBI, WHERE WAS GOD WHEN THE HOLOCAUST TOOK PLACE OR WHERE WAS GOD WHEN WORLD WAR II TOOK PLACE? I'M SURE THEY WOULD SAY AT THIS MOMENT IT'S ALL WELL AND GOOD TO SAY THAT GOD OPERATES THROUGH DOCTORS AND NURSES AND TEACHERS AND FIRST RESPONDERS AND SO ON, BUT IF GOD REALLY CARED ABOUT HIS PEOPLE, WOULDN'T HE JUST MAKE SURE THIS PANDEMIC DIDN'T HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE? HOW WOULD ONE ANSWER THAT?

Mr. Baskin says I HAVE NO ANSWER TO THAT. GOD REMAINS A MYSTERY. WHY INTERPRET GOD IN AN INFINITE NUMBER OF WAYS, WAYS THAT GIVE MEANING TO US. TO ASK THE ULTIMATE QUESTIONS ABOUT GOD'S EXISTENCE, WHY NATURE TAKES ITS COURSE, WHY THE HOLOCAUST OCCURRED... THESE ARE TREMENDOUS QUESTIONS, BUT THEY ARE UNANSWERABLE IN A MANNER WHICH HAS INTELLECTUAL AND EMOTIONAL MEANING TO ME AND THE PEOPLE AROUND ME.

Steve says UNDERSTOOD. I AM GUESSING IF YOU ASKED 100 PEOPLE, IN THE STREETS OF ANY CITY IN THE WORLD TODAY, AND ASKED THEM WHAT'S THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IN THE WORLD, THEY'D SAY THE PANDEMIC. BUT I AM CURIOUS, GIVEN THAT YOU'VE SEEN MORE THAN THE AVERAGE PERSON IN THIS WORLD, DO YOU THINK IT'S THE NUMBER ONE PROBLEM IN THE WORLD TODAY?

Mr. Baskin says IT'S THE NUMBER ONE PROBLEM WHICH ATTRACTS ATTENTION. MEANWHILE, THERE ARE PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD WHO ARE DYING. DYING FROM LACK OF FOOD. DYING FROM THE CLIMATE NOT ACTING PROPERLY. DYING BECAUSE OTHER PEOPLE DON'T CARE ABOUT THE LIVES OF THESE MALTREATED, THE LIVES OF THIS UNDERCLASS AND THE CHILDREN INVOLVED. THERE ARE PEOPLE DYING UNNECESSARILY AROUND THE WORLD. AND OF COURSE, WE'RE MORE ATTRACTED BY SOMETHING LIKE THE PANDEMIC WHICH BRINGS WITH IT INTERNATIONAL TERROR AS WELL AS LACK OF COMPREHENSION AS TO WHY THIS IS SOMETHING WHICH HAS COME AFTER US TO TAKE FROM US OUR LIVES, OUR MEANING, OUR UNDERSTANDING, OUR RAISON D'ETRE, THE REASONS FOR BEING PART OF THE HUMAN EXISTENCE.

Steve says I'D LIKE TO TAKE THAT VERY LARGE LENS THAT WE'VE BEEN LOOKING AT THE WORLD AND GET IT TO BE VERY, VERY SMALL RIGHT NOW. I'D LIKE TO ASK YOU MORE ABOUT YOU. AND AS WE DO THAT, I'D LIKE TO ASK OUR DIRECTOR, TONY BURKE, TO PUT UP A PICTURE OF SOMETHING THAT YOU WERE VERY LUCKY ENOUGH TO PARTICIPATE IN NOT TOO LONG AGO AND THAT WAS A 100-YEAR-OLD BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION FOR YOU...

A picture shows Mr. Baskin surrounded by smiling people of different ages as a woman raises a knife to cut a large cake with white frosting.

Mr. Baskin says YES, INDEED.

Steve says AND THANKFULLY IT HAPPENED BEFORE THIS PANDEMIC HIT AND YOU WERE ABLE TO BE SURROUNDED BY FRIENDS AND FAMILY FOR THIS.

Mr. Baskin says WELL, THAT'S ANOTHER WAY GOD ACTED PROPERLY, STEVE, AS I UNDERSTAND IT. HE WAITED A COUPLE OF DAYS BEFORE HE BROUGHT ON THE PANDEMIC, SO MY PARTY WAS POSSIBLE.

Steve says SINCE THEN YOU HAVE HAD TO BE IN ISOLATION AT YOUR RUSSELL HILL RESIDENCE, AND I'M WONDERING HOW HARD THAT HAS BEEN FOR YOU.

Mr. Baskin says WELL, A RABBI IS NOT UNACCUSTOMED TO TIMES OF ISOLATION, TIMES WHEN HE GRIEVES, TIME WHEN HE STUDIES. IN A WAY THE TIME ALLOTTED TO ME DURING THIS PERIOD WAS A BOON. IT GAVE ME ROOM FOR CONTEMPLATION, FOR SPEAKING TO MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY OVER THE PHONE, TO DO SOME READINGS I WANTED TO READ, TO DO A LITTLE STUDY OF TRADITION. ALL OF THIS BECAME PART OF A NEW OPPORTUNITY. MIND YOU, I GET BORED SOMETIMES AND I WISH THE WHOLE THING WAS OVER WITH. IT'S ANOTHER AFFLICTION BROUGHT TO US BY THE LORD, BUT NONETHELESS, WITH A BACKGROUND OF STUDY AND LEARNING AND CONCERN AND FEELING, ONE REACHES A POINT WHERE EVEN THE HOURS GO QUITE RAPIDLY UNDER ISOLATION, THE HOURS BEING CONSTRAINED.

Steve says I'M GOING TO ASK YOU A BIT OF A PERSONAL QUESTION HERE. I'M GOING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FACT THAT I'VE KNOWN YOU FOR... NOT YOUR WHOLE LIFE BUT PRETTY MUCH MY WHOLE LIFE, AND THAT IS: HAVE YOU EVER BEEN AFRAID DURING THE COURSE OF THIS PANDEMIC?

Mr. Baskin says I'VE BEEN CONCERNED. I WOULDN'T SAY AFRAID. I'VE BEEN PROTECTED, YOU KNOW, MORE THAN MOST PEOPLE. I'VE BEEN PROTECTED IN A HOME WHERE THERE'S GREAT CONSIDERATION GIVEN TO SAFETY. SO I HAVE VERY LIMITED APPREHENSION. BUT I DO HEAR FROM OTHER PEOPLE WANDERING THE STREETS WHO DON'T HAVE MY KIND OF GOOD FORTUNE TO BE PROTECTED HERE, PEOPLE WHO ARE OPEN TO THE ELEMENTS, NOT JUST OF WEATHER, BUT THE ELEMENTS OF UNCERTAINTY AND DEATH AND CONCERN. I'M PROTECTED TO A LEARN DEGREE FROM THEM, AND OF COURSE I'M AMONG THE FORTUNATE.

Steve says LET ME TAKE YOU BACK TO THAT 100th BIRTHDAY PARTY, AND YOU GAVE A QUITE WONDERFUL SPEECH THAT NIGHT. I HAVE TO SAY, SPEAKING VIRTUALLY EXTEMPORANEOUSLY THE WHOLE TIME, RARELY LOOKING AT ANY NOTES OR ANYTHING TO JOG YOUR MEMORY. IT'S QUITE IMPRESSIVE.

Mr. Baskin says THANK YOU.

Steve says YOU SAID YOU MENTIONED YOUR THREE CHILDREN ARE ALL SUCCESSFUL IN THEIR CHOSEN FIELDS AND THAT YOU ARE, QUOTE, UNQUOTE, FRIENDLY WITH THEM ALL. I FOUND IT VERY INTERESTING THAT YOU USED THAT WORD "FRIENDLY" TO DESCRIBE THAT RELATIONSHIP. HOW COME?

Mr. Baskin says I'M NOT SURE I USED IT ADVISEDLY, YOU KNOW? IT'S A TERM THAT CAME TO MY WITS BECAUSE I'M FRIENDLY WITH MY CHILDREN. THEY'RE... I CAN CALL THEM IN I HAVE PROBLEMS. THEY'RE ANXIOUS TO MEET MY NEEDS. THEY'RE CONCERNED HOW LIFE IS TREATING ME. HOW I LIKE THE RESIDENCE WHERE I'M LIVING AND HOW DOES IT BEAR ON MY PERSONALITY AND ON MY TIME AND ON MY YEARNINGS. SO I'M FRIENDS WITH MY CHILDREN. OF COURSE, I DON'T WANT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A FATHER AND CHILDREN TO BE THAT OF FRIENDLINESS ONLY. THERE'S ALSO DEEP AND LASTING INVOLVEMENT THROUGH WHAT PARENTS MEAN TO CHILDREN. THE UPKEEP OF CHILDREN. THE EARLY YEARS OF CHILDREN. WHAT THE TRIALS ARE. CHILDREN ARE NEVER THE PROBLEM LIKE PARENTS ARE NEVER THE PROBLEMS OR TRIALS. SO WE ARE RECIPROCAL. SO I PUT THEM ON THE LEVEL OF FRIENDSHIP, MAYBE THE HIGHEST LEVEL, THAN THE LEVEL OF CONCERN AND NEED AND UNDERSTANDING AND LOVE.

Steve says I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU ABOUT YOUR LATE WIFE MARJORIE AS WELL FOR WHOM YOU HAD SUCH BEAUTIFUL WORDS AT THAT OCCASION. YOU CALLED HER AN ANGEL WHO CAME DOWN AND GAVE PURPOSE TO YOUR LIFE WHICH IS JUST A GLORIOUS WAY TO DESCRIBE SOMEBODY WITH WHOM YOU HAVE SHARED YOUR LIFE. WHAT MADE YOU TWO SUCH A GOOD TEAM?

Mr. Baskin says WELL, LET ME SAY A WORD ABOUT MARJORIE. SHE WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY PERSON. SHE HAD MANY GIFTS, MANY SKILLS. SHE WAS A MEMBER OF THE HAMILTON BOARD OF EDUCATION FOR SOME YEARS AND THEN BECAME THE CHAIRPERSON AND THE HEAD OF THE SOCIAL PLANNING COUNCIL. SHE WAS ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF THE DARTS TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM IN HAMILTON FOR THOSE WITH PROBLEMS OF GETTING ABOUT. SHE SERVED UNTIL THE END OF HER LIFE AS A PUBLIC RELATIONS DIRECTOR FOR THE McMASTER MEDICAL SCHOOL. SHE HAD A HOST OF FRIENDS. SHE WAS TALENTED IN MANY DIRECTIONS. SHE FOUNDED A GROUP AND THREE CONGREGATIONS IN HAMILTON OF WOMEN WHO WORKED TOGETHER. SHE WAS HEAD OF THE RELIGIOUS SCHOOL AT ONE POINT. MARJORIE... SHE WAS MY WIFE BUT I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT HER IS THAT SHE WAS A SUPERB, UNUSUAL, AND UNIQUE PERSON WHO I MISS AND WHO I'M SURE THE COMMUNITY, JEWISH AND NON-JEWISH, MISSES AS WELL.

Steve says YOU WERE MARRIED ALMOST 60 YEARS, IS THAT RIGHT?

Mr. Baskin says 56 YEARS.

Steve says 56. AS YOU LOOK BACK AT YOUR LIFE, WHICH I GUESS IF YOU'RE 100 YEARS OLD, YOU DO SOME OF THAT, WHAT COMES TO MIND IN TERMS OF WHAT YOU'RE PROUDEST OF?

Mr. Baskin says WELL, I THINK BEING A RABBI IS THE HIGHEST... TO HAVE THE HIGHEST REGARD THE COMMUNITY CAN HAVE FOR A JEWISH INDIVIDUAL, AND THE RABBI HAS RESPONSIBILITIES. WHEN I CAME TO HAMILTON, ONE OF THE THINGS I MISSED AS AN AMERICAN WAS A LACK OF ECUMENISM. THE JEWISH COMMUNITY CERTAINLY IN HAMILTON WAS NOT MINGLING WITH THE LARGER COMMUNITY. THERE WAS A KIND OF UNHAPPY, UNEVEN SEPARATION. I WANTED TO BREAK THAT DOWN. AND DURING THE YEARS I WAS A RABBI IN HAMILTON, I GAVE MUCH OF MY TIME TO ECUMENISM, BREAKING DOWN PREJUDICES, BRINGING GROUPS TOGETHER. I ESTIMATE I GAVE OVER 500 ADDRESSES IN THE COMMUNITY, TO ALL KINDS OF GROUPS, RELIGIOUS AND UNRELIGIOUS, WOMEN AND MEN'S AND YOUNG PEOPLE GROUPS, THEY CAME TO THE TEMPLE, HIGH SCHOOL, ASSEMBLY PROGRAMS, I SPOKE TO SERVICE CLUBS. AND MY AIM ALWAYS TO BRING BETTER UNDERSTANDING, BETTER ACCORD, A RAPPORT, AN UNDERSTANDING, A FEELING, AND IF I ACCOMPLISHED THAT, AND I THINK I DID TO SOME DEGREE, I AM VERY PLEASED. McMASTER UNIVERSITY GAVE ME AN HONORARY DEGREE. WHY DID THEY DO THAT? I BEGAN TO THINK ABOUT IT. THEY DID IT, STEVEN, BECAUSE OF MY WORK IN THE GENERAL COMMUNITY. SOME YEARS LATER A GROUP CALLED THE GALLERY FOR DISTINCTION IN 1990 MADE ME A MEMBER OF THAT GROUP, AND MY TEACHER FOR MANY YEARS WAS IN THE LIBRARY, AS WERE THOSE OTHER HONOUREES. SOME MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY CALLED IT THE GALLERY OF EXTINCTION. I WAS PLEASED TO BE PART OF THE GALLERY OF EXTINCTION. AND ONCE AGAIN I THINK IT WAS MY INVOLVEMENT. I WAS THE HEAD OF MANY, MANY GROUPS: THE LIBRARY, THE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA, UNITED NATIONS, BIG BROTHER. I WAS CONSTANTLY AT WORK. MY AIM ALWAYS WAS TO BREAK DOWN THE BARRIERS, BREAK DOWN THE MISUNDERSTANDING, BREAK DOWN THE TRADITIONS OF BOTH A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE AND SOMETIMES EVEN... TO BREAK THEM DOWN. AND I FELT AFTER ALL MY YEARS OF SERVICE IN THE COMMUNITY, 60 YEARS, 40 YEARS AS RABBI, I FELT IN THAT AREA, WHICH WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT AREA, BASIC AREA, I FELT I HAD ACCOMPLISHED WHAT I SET OUT TO DO TO MAKE FRIENDS OF THE GENERAL COMMUNITY WITH THE JEWISH COMMUNITY, TO BE ACCEPTED AS A RABBI AND ONE WHO SPOKE TO THEM AS A PERSON THEY COULD UNDERSTAND, A MINISTER, AND TO HAVE JEWS AND CHRISTIANS FIND A GREATER FELLOWSHIP AND DEALING TOGETHER THE NUMEROUS AND UNENDING PROBLEMS OF OUR SOCIETY.

Steve says NOW, MY MOTHER, WHOM YOU KNOW, HAS AN EXPRESSION, WHICH IS: NOBODY GETS THROUGH LIFE SCOT FREE. SO I DO WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT COIN AS WELL. WHICH IS, I'M SURE YOU'VE HAD YOUR SHARE OF DISAPPOINTMENTS AND TRAGEDIES AND WHAT DOES ONE THINK BACK AT THOSE WHEN ONE TURNS 100?

Mr. Baskin says WELL, YOU KNOW, I WAS THINKING THE OTHER DAY, STEVEN, IF YOU LIVE TO BE 100, THERE ARE OF COURSE PRIVILEGES IN LONGEVITY. BUT EVERY DAY, MY FRIENDS ARE DYING. MY COLLEAGUES ARE DYING. MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION ARE PASSING AWAY. YOU LIVE ON AND YOU BYPASS THEM. BUT THE MEMORY REMAINS. THE THINGS WE SHARED. THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THESE PEOPLE, IN THE CONGREGATION AND AS PART OF MY LIFE. HOW DOES ONE DISMISS ALL OF THAT? ONE DOES NOT. AND SO MY GRIEF IS NOT SIMPLY FOR FAMILY MEMBERS. MY GRIEF IS VERY WIDESPREAD: COLLEAGUES AND MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION AND THOSE I MET IN MY LIFE, IN MY NUMEROUS AND VICARIOUS ACTIVITIES IN THE COMMUNITY. THEY'RE ALL THERE. PART OF MY INDELIBLE MEMORY, MAYBE I GIVE MORE TIME TO SOME OF THE DECEASED THAN OTHERS, BUT FROM TIME TO TIME, LONG-FORGOTTEN FRIENDS COME TO MIND. ONE NEVER LOSES THAT. AND I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE DRAWBACKS OF LONGEVITY: MEMORY. WE'RE GIVEN THE BLESSING OF MEMORY, BUT SOMETIMES IT TURNS OUT TO BE A BIT OF A CURSE AS WELL.

Steve says I AM GOING TO LIGHTEN YOUR MOOD SIGNIFICANTLY HERE BY SHOWING A LITTLE CLIP FROM THE SPEECH YOU GAVE AT YOUR 100th BIRTHDAY PARTY. THEY SAY THAT CLERGYMEN ARE NOT FUNNY PEOPLE. I BEG TO DIFFER. TONY, LET'S ROLL THIS CLIP.

A clip plays on screen in which Mr. Baskin addresses a group of people.

He says MY CHILDREN HAVE NEVER FAILED ME. THEY RELATE HOW GREAT I AM. THEY GIVE THE NECESSARY HONOURS I BOTH NEED AND DESERVE.

[LAUGHTER]

The clip ends.

Steve says NOW, MOST RABBIS I HAVE MET IN LIFE ARE NOT FUNNY. DO YOU KNOW WHY YOU ARE FUNNY?

Mr. Baskin says FIRST OF ALL, I WANT TO SAY A LOT OF RABBIS ARE FUNNY IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. SOMETIMES INTENTIONALLY AND SOMETIMES UNINTENTIONALLY. I DON'T THINK I AM PARTICULARLY FUNNY. I THINK HUMOUR GOES A LONG WAY, YOU KNOW, IN LIFE. YOU BREAK DOWN BARRIERS WITH HUMOUR. YOU ESTABLISH RELATIONSHIPS WITH HUMOUR. HUMOUR BUILDS BRIDGES. HUMOUR IS SOMETHING WHICH EVERYONE CAN UNDERSTAND AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER. IT BUILDS A SENSE OF KINSHIP. AND SO HUMOUR MUST NOT BE UNDERVALUED OR OVERLOOKED. HUMOUR IS ONE OF GOD'S BLESSINGS.

Steve says I SUSPECT EVERYBODY WATCHING THIS OR LISTENING TO THIS RIGHT NOW WILL BE THINKING TO THEMSELVES: I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS MAN IS 100. HE IS ABSOLUTELY IN JUST FINE FORM, FOR ANYBODY OF 20, 30, EVEN 40 YEARS HIS JUNIOR. DO YOU HAVE ANY THEORIES AS TO WHY YOU ARE DOING SO WELL INTELLECTUALLY, PHYSICALLY, AT 100...

Mr. Baskin says YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN ME AT 90. THAT'S WHEN I WAS IN GOOD SHAPE. EVER SINCE THEN THERE'S BEEN STEADY DECLINE. EVER SINCE THEN, I'VE SUFFERED FROM A NUMBER OF PROBLEMS. I CAN'T REMEMBER EVERYTHING. I'LL SEE A FAMILIAR FACE. I'LL SAY HELLO. AND I'LL MAKE OUT AS IF I KNOW THIS MAN'S NAME OR THIS WOMAN'S NAME AND I REALLY DON'T. LIFE PLAYS TRICKS ON US. WE CAN'T REMEMBER EVERYTHING. WHEN YOU GET TO BE 100, YOU HAVE TOO MUCH IN YOUR MIND. YOUR MIND IS CRAMMED, YOU KNOW, WITH THE UNIMPORTANT AND WITH THE INSIGNIFICANT. SO GOD HAS GIVEN US THE BLESSING OF FORGETFULNESS AS WELL AS THE BLESSING OF MEMORY. NO INCIDENTS DRIVE OUT THE OLD AND MAYBE WE'RE LUCKY IN THAT REGARD. WHO WANTS TO REMEMBER ALL THE OLD MISTAKES, THE OLD MISUNDERSTANDINGS, THE OLD WHICH TROUBLE US FROM TIME TO TIME. IF WE CAN ELIMINATE THEM, SO WITH FORGETFULNESS, WE'RE A BIT AHEAD OF THE GAME. SO SOMETIMES I LOOK FOR A WORD, I LOOK FOR A PERSON'S NAME, I LOOK FOR AN INCIDENT... JUST THE OTHER DAY I WAS TRYING TO REMEMBER A QUOTATION FROM THE TEMPEST BY SHAKESPEARE, WHEN THE HEROINE OF THE STORY SAYS, OH, BRAVE NEW WORLD WITH SUCH WONDERFUL PEOPLE IN IT. I COULDN'T REMEMBER THAT. SO I HAD TO LOOK IT UP. ALEX HUXLEY WROTE A BOOK "BRAVE NEW WORLD" BASED IRONICALLY ON BRAVE NEW WORLD, THIS INNOCENT GIRL WHO NEVER EXPERIENCED HUMAN INVOLVEMENT. SO WE'RE CONSTITUTED DIFFERENTLY. SOME REMEMBER MORE, SOME REMEMBER FEWER THINGS. BUT IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE DON'T REMEMBER EVERYTHING.

Steve says MM-HMM. WELL, ONE OF THE THINGS YOU ARE PHENOMENAL AT REMEMBERING, AND I WANT TO FINISH OFF OUR CONVERSATION WITH THIS, IS THAT EVERY TIME I COME TO VISIT YOU, YOU TEND TO LEAVE ME WITH A BUNCH OF, WHAT SHALL WE CALL THEM, 20 dollar WORDS THAT I'VE NEVER HEARD BEFORE AND HAVE NEVER USED BEFORE AND TRY TO INCLUDE IN MY VOCABULARY. WOULD YOU CARE TO LEAVE US WITH A 20 dollar WORD TODAY, RABBI, THAT MAYBE WE COULD ALL HEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME?

Mr. Baskin says LET ME TELL YOU ONE LITTLE THING BEFORE I LEAVE. DURING BROTHERHOOD WEEK MANY YEARS AGO, THERE USED TO BE SOMETHING CALLED BROTHERHOOD IN CANADA, RABBIS WOULD SPEAK AND MINISTERS WOULD SPEAK IN SYNAGOGUES AND I WENT ON SEVERAL TOURS UNDER THE AEGIS OF THE CANADIAN COUNCIL OF CHRISTIANS AND JEWS, ONE TIME DURING BROTHERHOOD WEEK I WENT TO VISIT THE PRIME MINISTER, PIERRE ELLIOTT TRUDEAU, AND THERE WAS A CATHOLIC REPRESENTATIVE, A PROTESTANT REPRESENTATIVE, AND MYSELF. THE PRIME MINISTER WAS TO ANNOUNCE BROTHERHOOD WEEK FOR THE NATION, WHICH HE DID. WE DIDN'T SPEND TOO MUCH TIME. BUT AS WE LEFT, HE REACHED FOR ME AND STRETCHED OUT HIS HAND AND HE SAID TO ME IN A RATHER LOW VOICE, SHALOM, SHALOM. NOW, I NEVER GOT OVER THAT, STEVEN. HERE'S THE PRIME MINISTER, DEALING WITH MATTERS OF PRIME IMPORTANCE, A MINISTER UPON WHOM THE COUNTRY DEPENDS, AND HE TAKES TIME OUT TO SAY TO THIS GUY WHO HE HAS NEVER MET BEFORE, HE SAYS TO ME "SHALOM." SO I'LL LEAVE YOU WITH THAT. SHALOM TO YOU. SHALOM TO MY UNKNOWN LISTENERS. SHALOM TO A WORLD WAITING FOR NOT THE WORDS FOR PEACE BUT PEACE IN ITS TRUEST SENSE. THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY FOR BEING WITH YOU.

The caption changes to "Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin."

Steve says RABBI, YOU ARE ONE OF THE GREATS. AS LONG AS I'VE KNOWN YOU, YOU ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. WE WISH YOU LOTS OF GOOD HEALTH AND SHALOM TO YOU TOO.

Mr. Baskin says I EXCHANGE THESE GREETINGS WITH YOU AS WELL. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Watch: A Centenarian's View of the Pandemic