Friday, October 21, 2005
That's where me and the kids went this morning. Along with a friend and her kid. I wanted my kids to see the beauty of reaching out to other Jews, I wanted them to cheer up the old people.
Not all of the people were "Hebrews." Some of them weren't so old. Some of them were plagued with obvious mental illness. One lady was cradling a plastic baby doll. I went up to her and said gently, "What's your baby's name?" and she told me. I felt sad.
We went to shake the lulav with them. My friend asked one resident if he was Jewish, and the man said "Yeah, but I've been trying to escape." My friend said to me, "Do you think he's really a Yid?" and I replied, "Of course! Only a JEW would say that!"
I met a little old man and I asked if he was Jewish, since he seemed bewildered by the lulav and esrog. He answered, "Am I Jewish? Shema Yisroel..." I was so touched that I went to stroke his little bald head. Then I stopped myself. "Oh wait," I thought, "I'm shomer negiah. I can't touch this man, even though he's a thousand years old."
Then I met this guy from Poland, he had one leg. He was so excited to see us, so excited to see the lulav and esrog. He told me in Yiddish that he had 4 children and 4 grandchildren. And when he heard my kids' names, he sighed. "Ah," he said, "Yiddisher nomen."
So it was beautiful, and it was sad. Rivky was a little weirded out by some of the old people, and I was too. I felt sad that the nursing home was so run down. But I felt happy to reach out to people, and happy to help other Jews.
Then - to escape the melancholy? - we went for pizza.