The wise Abraham Joshua Heschel did not live to a ripe old age. He passed away in 1972 at 65 years old. Yet, wisdom does not necessarily depend on direct personal experience. It is born as well from a thoughtful, sensitive mind.
Heschel employed that sensitivity in his article To Grow in Wisdom. “The years of old age,” he wrote, “[are] rich in possibilities to unlearn the follies off a lifetime, to see through inbred self-deceptions, to deepen understanding and compassion, to widen the horizon of honesty.”
Heschel’s sentiment is critically important, for we tend to dismiss the elderly. The Psalmist captured this concern when he plaintively wrote, “Al tashlicheini l’eit ziknah. Do not cast me aside in old age!” (Ps. 71,9). This disregard for the elderly is generally true within our own families and throughout our society.
Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation is countercultural in that sense. We are multigenerational community that values our very young and our quite old! We observe the Torah’s injunction to “rise before the aged” (Leviticus 19,32).
This Shabbat we are thrilled to honor Goldie Brandhandler, who will turn 100 on Sunday, August 26. Goldie is my friend and a true treasure within our community, as was her husband, Cantor David Brandhandler z’l who passed away a couple of years ago at nearly 103 years old!
Thank you, Goldie Brandhandler, for sponsoring our Shabbat kiddush and we wish you and your family the MAZAL TOV of the century!
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill