Elderly Survivors #general


I would like to add another voice to the topic. I think it is an
important mitxvah to hear what these people have to say. Not for
genealogical reasons but humanitarian ones. I urge those who work with
these people not to hasten their stories for data but to listen, for
that is what is most needed. A good reference book on talking for seniors
is Barbara Meyerhoff's book "Number Our Days". It is very important to
have a chance to review one's life, to recover, to remember in the sense
of restoration of treasured memories, to mourn, to be able to bear with
supportive respect what one will.

I remember the enormous pleasure it gave my grandmother to tell me
stories of her childhood, so that she could savor treasured recollections
of the past. Perhaps this one on one approach might be made availble for
volunteers who would like to tell about their lives; high school students
doing community service projects make excellent partners for listening
and recording/transcribing the stories.

Another way of doing this would be with trained volunteers or social
work group leaders who could run groups for seniors in centers, homes
and assisted living facilities. Some volunteers at my Temple (Temple
Reyim of Newton) have committed themselves to running Shabbat and holiday
services at a local nursing home. Perhaps congregants and mature local
students can run time limited groups (like 6 sessions) to give people a
chance to talk and then, after the series, offer those who wish to
participate, work with these people to record their stories of Jewish
life, introduce them to genealogy, and assist as needed. It's just a

Linda Rakoff
Newton, MA

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