In Parshat Kedoshim, we find many important laws. Two mitzvot that especially stand out after the very difficult year that we had with Covid-19 are: fearing our parents (Vayikra 19:3) and respecting the elderly (Vayikra 19:33).
Over the past year, the elderly population was hit the hardest by Covid-19. Many senior citizens passed away in nursing homes as the virus spread very quickly in facilities throughout the world. Family and friends were barred from visiting their loved ones. Those seniors who were living at home were very isolated as well as it was unsafe to go out into the unknown. Day centers, community centers and houses of worship were closed and many older adults had little human contact. Many don’t use technology so they were not even able to participate in online programs.
The vaccine has helped the elderly population tremendously but most are still being as cautious as possible. If there was ever a time to reach out to the elderly safely, it is now!
In 2013, Knesset Member Uri Orbach established Shabbat VeHadarta, based on the verse to respect the elderly from Parsha Kedoshim. The idea of the Shabbat is to show our appreciation for the elderly community members by honoring them with aliyot in shul, giving out flowers, cards, gifts or whatever will brighten their day.
This year more than ever, the senior community would appreciate our love and support.
Feel free to reach out to the elderly residents in your community and show how much you care and appreciate them. Drop off cards or gifts at your local nursing home which the staff can distribute even if they are not yet allowing visitors. Pick up the phone before Shabbat and take a moment to wish those who may be lonely a Shabbat Shalom.
Here in Jerusalem, we would like to distribute flowers in honor of Shabbat VeHadarta at our local nursing homes. Please be in touch if you would like to contribute any amount that you are comfortable giving and we will purchase flowers for the elderly residents. It will be a nice surprise that I am sure they will appreciate.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.