As Americans we are all connected to the rich history of our nation, and Black History Month gives us the opportunity to honor the particular contributions African Americans have made to our uniquely American culture. We celebrate their achievements and recognize their central role in U.S. history.
Hali Diecidue, Senior Staff Chaplain at Hebrew SeniorLife, has a simple motto, ‘serve G-d with joy.’ That motto has lead Diecidue to add a unique introduction to her Friday nondenominational Sabbath service.
It’s the summer of 2017 and a new group of students has arrived on Hebrew SeniorLife’s Boston campus. They are part of HSL’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program, and all are eager to learn about spiritual care as it relates to aging, illnesses of aging, family caregivers, bioethical decision-making, dying, and bereavement and share their newfound knowledge with their local communities.
On Saturday, June 10th, Hebrew SeniorLife was proud to celebrate inclusivity and equality by participating in the Boston Pride Parade. About 30 HSL staff, their family members, and seniors marched under beautiful blue skies and with spirits high. HSL was honored to participate – and to sponsor the LGBT Senior Pride Coalition’s annual Silver Party for LGBT seniors earlier in the week – as part of our commitment to celebrating diversity and honoring LGBT elders.
April 4th marked 49 years since Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. During his lifetime, Dr. King was pastor of Ebenezer Baptist church in Atlanta, and I had the honor of hearing the current Ebenezer Baptist pastor, Dr. Raphael Warnock, speak in Memphis at the American Jewish Aging Services Conference earlier this month.
Dr. King lived to the age of 39, and often spoke of not living to see 40. Forty is a big number in Jewish lore. It is the number of years the Israelites wandered in the desert, and the number of days Moses stayed up on the mountain. Big things can happen within 40 years.
When it comes to LGBT elders, “most 90-year-olds have lived silent hidden lives.” This is one of the reasons that Rev. Mary Martha Thiel created a one-of-a-kind chaplaincy education unit, Spiritual Care of LGBT Elders. It’s part of the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program she directs at Hebrew SeniorLife. “We’re not aware of any other CPE program with a unit focused just on the needs of the elder LGBT community,” says Mary Martha.
Hebrew Rehabilitation Center has a large Haitian American staff that largely provide front line nursing care and food services for our residents and patients. Over the years I have gotten to know many of these staff members and shared good and challenging times together. I have not, however, learned enough about Haitian culture and religions, and so I jumped at the opportunity to be a visitor at a local Haitian Church.
On July 2, 2016 we lost Elie Wiesel, world-renowned survivor of Auschwitz, author, and voice of conscience. A week later, I went to Germany with a group of Boston-area rabbis, sponsored by the Boston German Consulate. While I blogged recently about that trip, I continue to process the experience and also to hear the reflections of my fellow travelers.
There are a number of survivors of the Holocaust and victims of Nazi persecution among the many seniors who live and are cared for throughout HSL.
Last month, the Boston German Consulate hosted a group of twelve Boston-area rabbis on a trip to Germany. The trip was entitled, “Remembrance and Hope.” It began in Munich at the Dachau Concentration Camp and concluded in a suburb of Berlin at a refugee settlement organization, followed by Shabbat in the community.