Community’s commitment to elder care


Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh received a B.A. from Skidmore College and was ordained as a Rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is fortunate to be involved in so many facets of the community including serving as the chaplain for JF&CS and an instructor for CAJE. This will be her fifth year serving as the visiting Rabbi in Decatur, Ill. She has also served congregations in both Sydney and Perth, Australia. When not writing her weekly BLOGS, she can be found running marathons.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

Holidays are challenging. Some say there are more deaths at festive times of year or just afterwards. Holidays remind of us loved ones who are no longer physically with us or of how, in one’s own home, one cooked and cleaned and invited anyone who wanted to join in the celebrations.

Lately, a good number of residents have been telling me that they are finished with life and are waiting for “their time to come.” There is nothing left to live for or they can no longer stand what they call their “confinement.” They are tired that family members treat them like children and some facility workers are “mean.” They miss their independence.

When family members do offer to bring them home for a special dinner or holiday, most residents are fearful of leaving their comfort zone. They worry about falling or being a burden. They are concerned they may need help going to the restroom. The best they hope for is someone will bring them leftovers the next day.

I am usually confident that cheerful memories of Hanukkah will lift up spirits. Hasn’t been so this year. With the new secular year approaching, so many individuals are counting yet another year in a facility. The excess of non-Jewish holiday decorations is also a sore point with many residents. It is one more way of feeling isolated and alone.

As a Jewish community, I hope we can rededicate ourselves to caring for our elderly. Then we will be living the spirit of Hanukah.