Growing older and wiser
What an excellent article by Norma Baumel Joseph (“Happiness may never grow old, but I do!” Nov. 30).
Happiness as one ages is like a yo-yo – up and down and even sideways. I would imagine most seniors reflect on this topic and many will struggle with how to deal with aging.
As Joseph states, “How does one age with dignity?” Simple question, difficult and complex answer, in my view. Personally, at 78, I have now entered this stage in my life and I hopefully will come to some understanding in how to deal with aging.
It will take some work to find the necessary comfort(s) to live a meaningful and happy life. Easily said, most likely difficult to achieve.
Norma Joseph has painted a very unhappy picture of aging, and the most depressing part is her assertion that old people are all the same. She is wrong. There are commonalities among old people, but some remain as sharp as they were in their 30s. Old people can be as different from one another as the young.
Yes, we seniors have a problem with short-term memory loss and cannot physically do what we were once able, but we adjust and make the best of our 70s and 80s, and some of us, but not all, are respected for our experience in the vagaries of life.
In questioning the importance of funding day schools, letter writer Susan Steinberg (Nov. 23) notes that 26 per cent of UJA Federation’s budget goes to day schools, and then asks, “Do you want money taken from the poor, Israel or the elderly, to name a few?”
We are constantly being told that Israel is hugely successful, booming and an economic miracle. By perhaps as early as 2020, most of the world’s Jews will be living in Israel. It is time for us to ask whether we should be exporting our resources to Israel at the expense of local needs.
As Steinberg correctly notes, there are no guarantees, and many of the day school alumni do not follow a Jewish path. However, the odds that they do are considerably improved if they attend Jewish schools.
If we don’t support the schools now, there will be no future community to care for the poor or for us when we are elderly.
I was delighted to read the remarks made by Rabbi Catharine Clark about Parshat Vayishlach (Nov. 30). She expressed thoughts that I have had for years, but never dared to express. After all, I am not a rabbi, and certainly not a biblical scholar.
Rabbi Clark addressed the injustice and violation done to Dinah, daughter of Jacob. I – and I suspect most other women – find that the rape of Dinah is an inexplicable sexual violation, no matter how you look at it, which she did not bring upon herself, and the perpetrators should have been punished accordingly.
Upon reading this particular, well- known recorded violation of Dinah, my mind was immediately brought to recall another biblical account concerning a woman, Vashti, wife of King Achashverosh of Persia.
It is not the expulsion and divorce of Vashti from the king’s court that bothers me. To my mind, the request by the king, as he was drunk and revelling for many days with his many court subordinates, to have Vashti dance naked in front of these men should have had a different outcome. However, not a word is said in that regard, while I expected to see an alternative solution, such as admonishment for the king’s lewd behaviour.
Both Dinah and Vashti faced the shortcomings of the times they lived in. These deficiencies need to be recognized and pointed out as we retell the stories each year. The dominance of males over females needs to be constantly addressed and corrected. Not pointing out the wrongs is similar to condoning these actions.