Under the guidance of Rabbi Rosenthal, the leadership of Dr. Bill Friedel and Bill Sperling and participation of Howard Kaplan, TISMC, and the Tifereth Sisterhood spearheaded by Merle Lonstein, have embraced the tradition of Bikur Cholim by initiating a program to reach out to the homebound elderly of the Tifereth congregation.
There are many reasons that contribute to an elderly person’s isolation. Physical weakness, illness, loss of vision and impaired hearing are common causes. The most common consequence is the elderly’s loss of contact with people once close and with social acquaintances. Often times friends have passed away and children and family are not available. The elderly may believe that their lives make no difference to anyone.
In one instance, Howard suggested to a home-bound congregant that he introduce himself to the current generation of congregants by having a short biography published in the Shofar. His reaction was surprising, but revealing. He asked: “Who would be interested in reading anything about me?” His meaning was clear: he had lived so long, that his life’s moments would be unimportant to today’s congregant. Yet he is a man who had fought for his country in World War II against Nazi Germany, penetrated enemy lines and while under heavy enemy fire, single handedly rescued several wounded American soldiers. His bravery was recognized by his Commander and he was formally honored by the United States Government. In later years, he was a leader of our congregation.
Today he is too frail to attend our synagogue services or social events. There are many other elderly among our congregation living without meaningful social contact beyond their immediate family who are often lonely. On the other hand, once the hand of friendship is extended, any discomfort of the first meeting is quickly overcome and mutual appreciation and concern take over. It is the Men’s Club’s and Sisterhood’s purpose to let the home-bound elderly know that they are respected and treasured, to bring the spirit of comradery and caring to them, and to ease their loneliness. If you know of a congregant who would benefit from a visit by a member of our Sisterhood or Men’s Club or if you would like to participate in the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim, please contact Dr. William Friedel at firstname.lastname@example.org or Merle Lonstein at email@example.com.