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June 24, 1988 - Image 130

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-06-24

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ceiv e

w Seniors Await
Your Letters

Usually in this space, L'Chayim
provides addresses of Jews around
the world, particularly Soviet Jews,
to whom local Jews can write.
This month, since its theme is
the elderly, L'Chayim found some
senior adults in the community who
wish to be pen pals.
Goldie Berofsky, Molly Levine
and Ida Cetron, residents at the
Prentis Jewish Federation
Apartments will be happy to
exchange cards and letters. Letters
may be sent to them at the
apartments, 15100 W. 10 Mile, Oak
Park 48237.
Letters should be warm and
cheery and should include
information about the writer's
interests, family and activities. To
give a more personal touch, writers
may want to exchange photographs,
birthday and holiday greetings.

By Ricki Levinson Dutton
Illustrations by Diane
Five tum-of-the-century families make their

different ways to Grandma's hous
versation. illustrations that invte e This book has
mportant con-

Check your synagogue
library for availability.








, ■

. •


Respect For Elderly



1 :.
,,, "I ki,

Continued from preceding page

19:32) enjoined the Israelites and
their descendants: "In the presence
of the aged you shall rise up and
you shall respect the elderly; you
shall revere your God, I am
Adonai." Deference to and for the
aged became a mitzvah, a religious
responsibility, "Mitzvat Amidat
Zakein when God 'stood' before the
aging Patriarch Abraham" (see
Genesis 18:1).
Rabbi Elazar taught: "It is the
norm that a human sovereign issues
a decree which is to be fulfilled and
then fulfills it or has others do so.



A Special
Grandparent Activity

Fresh Air Society will offer two Bubbie-
Zayde-Kinder weekends in 1988-1989. This is
an opportunity for grandparents and
grandchildren to spend time together away
from distractions in a recreational setting.
The FAS family camp staff will be on
hand to create programs and provide child
care and guidance for grandchildren and
This year's weekends will be Dec. 16-18
and March 10-12, 1989. For information, call
Carol Parven, 661-0600.


L-2 FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 1988

With the Holy One, be praised, it is
not so. Rather, God only issues a
decree which God already has
fulfilled, as it is written, 'In the
presence of the aged you shall rise
up and you shall respect the
elderly; you shall revere your God, I
am Adonai,' and I am the One who
first fulfilled the mitzvah of standing
for an older person" (Leviticus
Rabbah 35:3).
We are responsible to emulate
and to revere God by performing
Mitzvat Amidat Zakein, the duty of
standing for an older person. Jewish
Law defines the older individual
before whom we should rise as one
who is at least 70 years of age
(Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deiah
244:2). But chronological years are
not the crucial criterion.
The traditional explanation of
the word "zakein" is that it means
"Zeh Kanah Chochmah — this one
has acquired wisdom" (see Rashi
and Ramban on Leviticus 19:32,
based on Kiddushin 32b and Sifra),
and we are bidden to stand in the
presence of a wise person or a
scholar, regardless of age (Yoreh
Deiah 244:1; although a
"youngster" with wisdom still must
rise for an older person, Yoreh
Deiah 244:7). Nor is this merely a
question of religious identity. We

also are duty-bound to stand up for
an older individual who is not
Jewish (Yoreh Deiah).
Several textual sources contain
discussions by the talmudic Sages
of the details in which this mitzvah
is to be performed. For example,
they concluded that one must rise
and greet an older person within a
distance of four cubits (about six
feet) (Numbers Rabbah 15:17;
compare Kiddushin 33a.; Yoreh
Deiah 244:2). One also must not sit
in the accustomed seat of an elder
or interrupt his/her speech
(Numbers Rabbah 15;17). These
acts of deferential behavior actually
are manifestations of the attitude of
respectfulness with which older
persons are to be approached and
related to.
The fact is that older persons
have quite a lot to offer. Some, like
Golda Meir who became Prime
Minister of the State of Israel at the
age of 70, achieve and attain much
in their advanced years. Others,
whose accomplishments may not be
monumental, present a perspective
which we can ill afford to do
In an era characterized by rapid
and constant change, when
newness and novelty dictate not
only fad and fashion, but also

custom and practice, it is all too
easy to disregard and to devalue
our seniors. Yet, our Jewish heritage
and God's mitzvot remind us that
older persons are treasures who
must not be disdained or
In teaching us Mitzvat Amidat
Zakein, the religious responsibility of
rising up before the aged and
showing respect to the elderly,
Judaism has instructed us in a
spiritual lesson which adds dignity
and sanctity to our own lives and to
the life of our world.
Among our ancient Israelite
forebears, it was proverbial that "A
crown of glory is old age, in the way
of righteousness is it found"
(Mishlei 13:31). May this saying
become a byword to us as well.



20300 Civic Center Drive

Suite 240
Southfield, Michigan 48076
June 24, 1988
Associate Publisher Arthur M. Horwitz
News Editor Heidi Press
Jewish Experiences for Families
Advisor Harlene W. Appleman
Illustrator Neil Beckman

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