July - Senior Rights


July – Senior Rights


Aging in Judaism

In Judaism, an elder is not just an older member of society but is a person with a high and unique moral ranking among community. Jewish history has placed specific emphasis on elders and the wisdom that they bestow (Hillel International). Leviticus 19:32 states that “you should rise before the elderly and honor the aged" meaning that we, as Jews, should treat seniors in our community with the upmost respect and reverence. Another instance in the Torah where significance of elders is placed is in the Book of Numbers. According to the passage, Moses was instructed to find seventy elders in order to help him with a burden (Numbers 11:16-17). A midrash that pairs with this Torah portion states the regulations and responsibilities towards elders in our society – thus laying out the foundation of the Jewish community and its’ seniors. The Jewish Theological Seminary states that “Even today, the honoring of elders by the wider public — and the recognition of elders that such honor not be abused, can help educate people of all ages that mutual obligations benefit all members of society.”.

Social Justice Issues and the Senior Community

According to the United States Census Bureau (2015), seniors make up roughly 15%, around 47.8 million, of the population. With aging, depending on the individuals’ health and financial status, social justice issues vary among senior populations. Factors including illness/disability, family or loved one access, life fulfillment, and race/gender all play important roles in the senior community within the United States. However, some underlying social justice issues revolve around poverty, hunger, elderly abuse, access (to healthcare, court, voting, etc.), and equity. Aging Today published a provides a clear and reflective article on what social justice means as we age: 'A Sweeping Vision for Justice in Aging'.



  • Film:
    • The Passage of Time (2013)
      • “Full length documentary about growing older. Opinions of men and women of all ages share their views on various aspects of aging.”
    • Hunger in the West End
      • “Isolated seniors by definition are difficult to find, that's one of the big takeaways, and people are reluctant to offer themselves up as examples of poverty or hunger."
    • Fleeced: Speaking Out on Senior Financial Abuse (2013)
      • “A new WFYI-produced program looks at financial abuse of adults over age 65, how policy changes can protect them, and explores what can happen to older adults when they’re scammed and what can be done to prevent financial abuse.”
    • Up (2009)
      • “Carl Fredricksen, a 78-year-old balloon salesman, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. Tying thousands of balloons to his house, he flies away to the South American wilderness. But curmudgeonly Carl's worst nightmare comes true when he discovers a little boy named Russell is a stowaway aboard the balloon-powered house.”
    • Kings Point (2012)
      • “Documentary explores the lives of America's senior citizens, focusing on their desire to live independently yet still be part of a community.”
    • Rage Against the Darkness (2004)
      • “A three-part series introduces two elderly sisters who are separated into different nursing homes after 30 years of living together; Gert Stevenson, a positive, bright nursing home resident and the details of the relationship with her daughter; and two seniors Phillip Rowley and Helen Beck who continue to live alone at home rather than move into facilities.”
    • Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
      • “Daisy Werthan, an elderly Jewish widow living in Atlanta, is determined to maintain her independence. However, when she crashes her car, her son arranges for her to have a chauffeur, an African American driver named Hoke Colburn. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start, but they gradually form a close friendship over the years, one that transcends racial prejudices and social conventions.”
    • Leftovers (2017)
      • “Discover why senior citizens are the fastest growing group of people going hungry in America, why we treat senior citizens as second-class citizens, why he never cared about this issue and what can be done to make a difference in the lives of senior citizens in America.”
    • The Bucket List (2007)
      • “Billionaire Edward and car mechanic Carter Chambers are complete strangers, until fate lands them in the same hospital room. The men find they have two things in common: a need to come to terms with who they are and a desire to complete a list of things they want to do before they die.”
    • For more documentaries on the subjects of ageing, nursing homes, elderly rights, and more - click here!
  • ELITalks: (Allows individuals and organizations to cultivate, transmit, and curate Jewish ideas and thoughts through digital conversations.)  
  • TED Talks:
  • Books:
    • “Ending Up” by Kingsley Aims
      • “A darkly comic 1973 British novel about a group of old men and women living together in a retirement home. But these old-timers have no intention of fading quietly into the sunset.”
    • “Letter to My Daughter” by Maya Angelou
      • “Contains simple observations that will have you reeling for months, reconsidering everything you thought you knew about being older and more mature.”
    • “Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge” by Mem Fox
      • “A small boy tries to discover the meaning of "memory" so he can restore that of an elderly friend.”
    • “The Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism” by Ashton Applewhite
      • “From childhood on, we're barraged by messages that it's sad to be old. That wrinkles are embarrassing, and old people are useless. Lively, funny, and deeply researched, this novel traces the journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-ageing radical, and in the process debunks myth after myth about late life.”
    • “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway
      • “Tells the story of Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman who struggles with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Cuba.”
    • “The Gift of Years” by Joan Chittister
      • “The world glorifies youth and degrades old age. This book flies in the face of this conventional wisdom. It is a wonderful celebration of the blessings of growing older, clear-eyed and unsentimental about the reality of the ageing process but showing us that our later years are gift, not burden.”
    • “The Coming Age” by Simone de Beauvoir
      • “How do we really treat our elderly? Beauvoir attempts to find out in this unsettling nonfiction account of what it means to grow old and more dependent.”
    • Younger Next Year by Chris Conley
      • “If you're a woman preparing for the 30 years following menopause, it is possible for you to eliminate 70 percent of the decay and 50 percent of the injuries and illness associated with aging. And if that sounds too incredible to believe, you need this book.”
    • For more books: 10 Must Read Books for Seniors
    • PJ Library Books – Honoring Elders


  • Locally:
    • Support
    • Events
      • On July 6th, in coordination with the Senior Lunch Chavurah, there will be a lunch and learn regarding digital inclusion for our community. Do you wish you knew a little more about digital culture? Join us for a Senior Planet presentation, created by Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), that aims to empower older adults as changemakers, use technology to amplify older adult advocacy, strengthen key leadership skills and analytical abilities, and apply theory of change to action. Temple will provide chicken and beverages; members are asked to bring side dishes and desserts. Please make your reservation today ONLINE or by calling Dollie Closna at 210-733-9135 ext. 126. The fee for lunch is $10 for those 59 years of age and younger. All those 60 and older are free of charge. Waivers due to financial need will be honored, if requested.
      • SAJSS - Calendar
      • Senior Resource Guide - Events
      • Senior Directory - Events
    • With friends or family:
      • Visit local senior communities:
        • Teach a lesson (yoga, fitness, art, music, etc.)
        • Bring food, flowers, or games
        • Spend quality time (listen, talk, go on a walk!)
  • Prayer/Spirituality

Stay Informed: