Old need not be lonely

The Pesach seder is traditionally a family affair. But due to the deadly pandemic circling the entire world we had been advised not to include anyone, only immediate family members living together.

We have heard of two “violations” which must be understood. The first was Avner Netanyahu, son of our prime minister, a very fine and honorable young 25 year old who attended the seder with his parents and brother at the prime minister’s residence.

Prime minister Netanyahu cannot and should not be blamed. Avner lives in an apartment attached to his father’s official residence. Therefore he was not in violation of the order concerning visitors to the seder.

The second case, a more understandable “violation”, occurred at the home of the President of Israel, 80 year old and widowed Reuven Rivlin.

Since the death last year of his beloved wife Nehama his four children take turns at being together with him on Shabbat and holidays. It would be less than human to leave an old man alone on a major holiday.

Regrettably, several Israeli “judges” have judged both the President and the prime minister harshly.

One ignoramus wrote a letter demanding that our president submit his resignation at once !

There is no need for our esteemed and highly respected president to even consider such a bitter suggestion sent by a bitter man.

The seder has come and gone. For many it was a joyous seder. For too many others it was a very sad and lonely seder.

My heart broke when I read of the tragedy in the Beth Shalom Jewish old age home in Amsterdam, the largest old age home in the Dutch kingdom. Fifteen elderly Jewish residents, all over the age of 80, died from the coronavirus. Surviving residents attended the home’s seder.

There is no reason why old people have to be lonely ! Wherever they may dwell there must be other human voices to be heard and other faces to be seen. Elderly people must not be alone or unwanted, especially on religious holidays.

I can understand why many Israelis complained about Netanyahu’s “violation”, primarily because none knew that Avner was living in an apartment within the walls of the prime minister’s residence. That cannot be considered a violation. Those who accuse the prime minister are doing so only out of spite and hatred.

On the other side, I fail to understand how any decent Jew could dare to condemn our president for not wanting to be alone but to have one of his daughters with him for the seder. He is a lonely old man, deeply pained by the death of his wife. There is no earthly reason for him to be alone. God bless him and grant him more years to celebrate Pesach in good health.

I am angry, to put it mildly, to read the complaints of unhappy people. They are people lacking caring, compassion, understanding and feeling. They dare to condemn a distinguished statesman whose entire life has been devoted to the people and the State of Israel. Such ignoramuses bring disgrace upon themselves and earn the condemnation of every caring Israeli Jew.

“Al tashlichenu l’et zikna” is a cry that we recite on Rosh Hashanah and again on Yom Kippur.

Do not cast us away in our old age.

The ignoramuses among us will one day be old or older. They may have to experience loneliness in old age.

Elderly and old have seen generations and years come and go. They have suffered much pain and have rejoiced on happy occasions. Each one of them has stories to tell, to share with those willing to listen.

Listen. Be patient. Learn from the old. Look into your hearts and find compassion. The Jewish soul demands it !

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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