- For many years Interfaith Caregivers provided a loose national network of local groups that trained volunteers to provide support services for seniors to enable them to remain in their homes as long as possible. This network became subsumed under the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Faith in Action program.\
- In the last several years the United Jewish Communities has encouraged local federations around the United States to seek federal grants to give similar social services to seniors living in their own communities to allow them to gracefully “age in place.” These so-called “Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities” or NORCs present the challenge of a large aging senior population. They also present the possibility of providing a wide array of supports and programs for these people to make their last years truly “golden years.”
Whereas the Torah instructs us “mipnei seivah takum, v’hadarta pnei zaken” (“rise before the hoary head and give honor to the face of the elderly”, Lev. 19:32 );
Whereas the Rabbis recognize the elderly as those with the wisdom acquired through life experience by interpreting “zaken (elderly)” as “zeh she-kanah hokhmah” (“one who has acquired wisdom”);
Whereas due to enhanced medical technology and healthcare people live longer today than at any other time in human history;
Whereas the percentage of seniors (those over 65 years of age) in the US has jumped from 4.1% (in 1900) to 8.1% (1950) to 13% (in 1997), with the “oldest old” (those 85 and over) the fastest growing segment increasing 280% from 1960 to 1994;
Whereas, as a result, our senior citizens have more need of support and services to enable their “golden years” to be truly a time of celebration and not increasing infirmity and isolation;
Whereas many Conservative congregations have established Hazak chapters under the umbrella of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism to serve the needs of its senior members; and
Whereas there are programs and agencies such as Interfaith Caregivers/Faith in Action and the United Jewish Communities-coordinated NORC support organizations –which provide services and offer such supports and create new opportunities to meet the growing needs of seniors with dignity and compassion.
Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage its members to explore forging interfaith coalitions under Faith in Action or similar programs in other countries;
Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage its members in the United States to work with or seek funding for further NORC support organizations;
Be it further resolved that the members of the Rabbinical Assembly encourage and support the work of their Hazak chapters; and
Be it further resolved that members of the Rabbinical Assembly involve their organizations’ members in performing this mitzvah of g’milut hasadim on a large scale to meet the increasing needs of this growing and important segment of our population so they may reach their last days in dignity.
Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, March, 2006