THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
. . and Me'
(Copyright 1984, JTA, Inc.)
JEWISH OBLIGATIONS: Our sages taught us that
the world stands on three pillars — Learning, Labor and
Good Deeds (Gemilot Hasodim). The good deeds include
helping the needy with free loans, spending a night with a
sick and helpless neighbor at his home and taking care of
him, and visiting ailing and lonely people to make them
feel that they are not isolated and that somebody cares for
The tradition of volunteering aid to the elderly and the
sick was part and parcel of Jewish life for many centuries. It
found expression in the formation of "Bikur Holim"
societies — groups of Jews volunteering to visit the sick.
There was not a town, large or small, in Russia, Poland,
Romania, Lithuania and other countries of pre-war years
where the inherited humanitarian custom of Bikur Holim
did not exist. These societies functioned in every locality
where Jews lived.
THE "BIKUR HOLIM" PROBLEM: The lack of
Bikur Holim is now developing into a nationwide problem
for the American Jewish community. The Federation of
Jewish Philanthropies of New York estimates that in
Greater New York alone there are about 50,000 sick, dis-
abled and homebound aged Jews on any given day who
would benefit from Bikur Holim visitors.
This requires an enormous effort on the part of Jewish
communities to motivate Jews throughout the country to
organize Bikur Holim groups, to recruit volunteers, to train
them and to make them conscious of the role they can play
in showing the needy Jews that they are not forgotten and
abandoned by the Jewish community, and that they remain
a part of the community.
There are today about 100 Jewish community non-
profit homes for the aged throughout the country, in addi-
tion to many hundreds of for-profit proprietary homes. The
latter operate on a non-sectarian basis but have a substan-
tial proportion of Jewish residents for whom the local
Jewish federations and their agencies provide special serv-
ice for their Jewish needs. The Council of Jewish Federa-
tions encourages such services.
In Greater New York there are approximately 260
proprietary nursing homes. The Jewish residents there
comprise about one-third of the total. Most of them are over
85 years old. Three-quarters of them are women, and most
are widows with no surviving family members. While some
may have children, in many instances the children them-
selves are elderly, or else they live in other cities. It is
estimated by federation experts that well over two-thirds of
the Jewish elderly in nursing homes never have any vis-
itors. Some are depressed, frustrated, angry and even hos-
tile. They feel completely abandoned.
The problem is of such magnitude that the New York
Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, in cooperation with
the New York Board of Rabbis, have established a task
force on Bikur Holim. There are more than 25 Bikur Holim
societies in New York City organized by synagogues and
communal agencies. The largest of them is the Bikur Holim
Society of Boro Park in Brooklyn. It has a membership of
A "MUST" FOR COMMUNITIES: The importance
of organizing Bikur Holim societies in the communities
across the country was emphasized at a session of the Coun-
cil of Jewish Federations' General Assembly in an address
by Rabbi Isaac Trainin.
He urged the lay and professional leaders of the federa-
tions in the U.S. and Canada to consider the Bikur Holim
programs as "must" for their communities.
2 Killed in Israeli Hotel Fire
TEL AVIV (JTA) — Two
person were killed and 11
were injured in a fire that
swept through the top two
floors of a five-story luxury
hotel on the slopes of the
Dead Sea. The Tourism
Ministry has appointed a
, commission to investigate
the cause of the fire.
The blaze broke out Sun-
day morning on the upper
floors of the Moriah Hotel.
Fifteen persons who sought
shelter on the roof were
trapped by the fire. Army
helicopters sent to rescue
them gave up their efforts
when it was found that the
downdraft of their rotors
was fanning the flames. The
15 persons were finally
taken off the roof by cranes
rushed up from the nearby
Dead Sea potash works.
The two persons who were
killed were a soldier and a
The soldier, 19, was re-
turning to his base from a
weekend furlough when
he stopped by the hotel
and volunteered to help
rescue trapped tourists.
He was badly burned and
was overcome from
The chambermaid, 49,
was trapped in flames on
the top floor.
by JTS in NY
NEW YORK — The
Jewish Theological Semi-
nary of America (JTS) hon-
ored Clarence and Marjorie
Unterberg in recent cere-
monies here marking the
renovation of the semi-
nary's Unterberg Building.
The building was originally
a gift from Unterberg's par-
ents more than 50 years
Meanwhile, the seminary
announced its annual
Florida Awards Presenta-
tion will be held March 4 in
Friday, February 10, 1984 19
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for information call
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