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Article Rise Before the Elderly - Greet Everyone Friendly Face

Values - Rise Up Before the Elderly
and Greet Everyone with a Friendly Face

By Sue Catler and Joel Cohen
January 2011 Menroah Newsletter


As a result of the Tifereth Israel Retreat, the Congregation will be working on two important values in the coming year - lifnei seivah takum  (rise up before the elderly) and mekabel kol adam b'seiver panim yafot (greet everyone with a friendly face).  The retreat, held the weekend of November 5-7,  and coordinated by Rabbi Bob Saks, focused on Mussar,  a Jewish ethical, educational and cultural movement that developed in 19th century Eastern Europe. The program culminated in the selection of these two values to integrate into our actions and programming in the next year.

First, a fuller explanation of these two values.  "Rise up before the elderly" emphasizes the respect we are to show to the elderly.  "Greet everyone with a friendly face" asks us to be friendly to those we encounter, encouraging us to extend words of peace and greeting to those who cross our paths.

Second, how we plan to implement this charge.  At an institutional level we are asking all of the entities within the Congregation to consider these values as they plan their programs and activities for the coming year.  We have also created a committee to look for ways to implement these values.  Joel Cohen will chair the Mussar Committee.  The initial members of the committee are Loretta Saks, Michelle Sumka, Alan Landay, Sylvia Horwitz, Ben Finkelstein, Sheri Blonder, Bev Lehrer, Joseph Martin, Aviva Blonder and Ariel Davis.  Others who would like to be on the committee should contact Susan Catler.

What kind of institutional changes will be considered?  The Board has already agreed to take on being the Greeters at Shabbat morning services.  The Adult Education and Programming Committee is working on increasing the opportunities for our older members to participate in programs at TI and looking at additional programs that might be of interest.  Our membership committee is working with a local senior community to arrange for bus service for residents to attend our Shabbat morning services.  The Mussar Committee will be looking for new ways for us to greet each other and to respect our elders.

On a personal level, we hope that members of the Congregation will take up these values with enthusiasm.  Why not decide to say hello to a new person, someone you have never spoken to before, each time you come to TI?  How about getting to know our older members better - one of the best ways to begin to "rise up before the elderly" is to sit down and talk!

We will be keeping the membership posted of efforts on these two values as the year progresses.  If you would like to learn more about Mussar, Rabbi Saks suggests the following websites:  www.mussarinstitute.org (Alan Morinis' approach.), www.phillymussar.org, www.madrega.com, and www.ayeka.org.il.