Editor’s Wrapup: Before Sunset
The late fall and winter holidays that most societies observe are ways of telling ourselves that even as the year wanes and darkness encroaches, we can celebrate what we have around us and even create our own light. a Unlike the seasons, which are re- newed, our lives are finite. But as we live longer, we discover, or rediscover, ways to infuse the waning years with comfort—much like our Novembers and Decembers. Three articles in this issue examine strategies for dealing with age.
Joanne Kenen looks at caregivers, the people—usually family members—who invest the most time and energy in supporting the elderly, and the growing network of Jewish community institutions that offer support and, often just as important, recognition to the caregivers in their midst. The experience can be emotionally draining but, as one caregiver told Kenen, “There is something very healing about seeing a parent off in the style they want…something you can carry around with you for the rest of your life.” Kenen’s report begins on page 34.
One of the challenges of advanced age is quality of care. As Leora Eren Frucht writes (page 28), an increasing number of Israelis are opting to spend their last years in kibbutz retirement homes. The facilities tend to be small, and because most residents are elders from the kibbutz where their friends and family still live, the atmosphere is more personal. Another plus is that the added-value care of kibbutz retirement costs the same, or slightly less, than city care.
There are those, of course, who seemingly refuse to get old. One prominent Jewish elder who shows no sign of slowing down is 83-year-old Theodore Bikel, whose international concert schedule looks as busy as it did 30 years ago. Rahel Musleah caught up with the veteran entertainer and activist (page 62) who refers to himself as “the flying Jew” and who doesn’t seem to realize that it’s already November.