Deuteronomy 15:7-10 teaches us, "If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren...you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be."
Yom Kippur is referred to in the book of Leviticus as sabbath of sabbaths, and the double use of the word communicates a completely restful Shabbat, the Shabbat of all Shabbats. Rosh Hashana, the 7 days in between, and Yom Kippur are a time of reflecting on our lives. We literally pause, stop in our tracks, to assess, and recalibrate. The prayers, songs, and time in community are all ways to support our process of deep reflection — and in that time of suspension, we experience what the Torah understands to be a Shabbat shabbaton, a time of complete rest.
The Fourth of July holiday heralds the height of summer — the time to hit the beach and fire up the grill. But it also provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on what is means to be an American—who we really are. The United States is in large part a country of immigrants and the residents who live at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Boston reflect the rich diversity of the immigrant experience.
As the admissions counselor for Assisted Living at NewBridge on the Charles, I frequently talk to families of seniors about the advantages of an assisted living lifestyle. While supports like meal preparation, medication reminders and bathing and dressing help can be brought into a senior’s home, assisted living communities offer residents the added benefit of living among a community of peers and caring staff members.
For many Jewish elders, fasting on Yom Kippur is a religious and cultural imperative as well as a life-long tradition. In fact, many seniors who may not be traditional in other ways continue the practice of abstaining from all food on this holiest day of the Jewish year, the Day of Atonement.
But is it safe for seniors to fast? And what does Judaism have to say for those whose health issues may make fasting dangerous?
Last year, just around this time, I started laughing to myself as I drove to my job as a marketing specialist for Assisted Living at NewBridge on the Charles, part of Hebrew SeniorLife’s continuing care retirement community just outside of Boston in Dedham, MA. Halloween had recently passed, and as my thoughts turned to Thanksgiving, I remembered a calendar quirk I had first noticed on the back page of a Jewish calendar 2013 distributed by Combined Jewish Philanthropies.
At Hebrew SeniorLife we recognize that for many of the seniors we serve, a sense of spiritual wellbeing is just as important to transforming the experience of aging as providing good medical care and innovative supportive living communities. As the Director of Religious Services, I work with a team that is devoted to providing spiritual support to our residents, resident families, and staff that responds to a broad spectrum of secular and religious traditions.
I joined over a hundred volunteers who streamed into Hebrew SeniorLife’s Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Roslindale on a cold, damp and grey Sunday morning December 2 to distribute Chanukah Mitzvah bags to over 500 seniors in the greater Boston area. The atmosphere inside the building was the opposite of the day outside: warm, bustling, smelling tantalizingly of Sunday dinner.