Decorations alone do not a holiday make


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

Remember the resident who loves to sit outside? I saw him last week. It was too chilly and overcast to visit outdoors but we enjoyed ourselves nevertheless. He was particularly alert. He often apologizes for falling asleep as he says his medications make him sleepy. I know it frustrates him.

This resident is over 90 years old. He misses his wife terribly. Besides sitting in the sun, I am not sure what else brings him happiness besides his memories. He is not overly interested in sports or activities. I have come to appreciate his sharp wit. He has a brilliant sense of humor that is accompanied with a great smile.

In the course of the morning, I asked him if he was looking forward to Thanksgiving. His response was, “No. It is just like any other day.” I should not have been surprised. Why would it be different for this man who is lonely, who sits day in and out with nothing to do? Yes, the meal might be a little fancier, but for most of the seniors I visit, they don’t have much of an appetite, or it doesn’t taste like their wives or mothers made, or they were capable of cooking themselves.

Most of the facilities I visit are very successful in decorating the halls with seasonal effects. Soon the construction colored leaves and pumpkins will come down and be replaced with snowflakes, Christmas lights and trees, and, hopefully, a menorah. But I learned last week that these residents need more than exterior decorations. They need caring souls to talk to or to have a holiday meal with them. Otherwise, it is just like any other day.