All text and Images used with permission from the author, Rabbi Barbara Aiello.
In 2009 I began a Jewish journey that led me to not only serve as rabbi to men and women in a Jewish retirement community but to live among the residents as well. I viewed my apartment in the Independent Living wing of the Aviva Campus as a stroke of convenience – not having to drive to work or even cook dinner – as my job description included eating my evening meal alongside residents in the community dining room.
What I didn’t understand at first, but what I came to cherish as the greatest benefit of all, was the opportunity to live among the residents, to share in their daily joys, sorrows, ups and downs.
With my residents I rode the bus to local events, danced at the New Year’s Eve gathering and met their friends and families in our beautiful common area, “The Rotunda.” As their rabbi, I adapted Jewish rituals, synagogue services, festivals and holidays to meet the needs of our most fragile. As their spiritual guide I visited them in the hospital and held their hands as they passed to “Olam HaBa” the world to come.
From all of these experiences – punctuated with sadness and joy, “tusris” and “simcha,” irony, sarcasm and great good humor, my new book, “Aging Jewishly” was born.
The selections were chosen from among my guest columns for the Sarasota/Manatee (Florida) Jewish News and although many offer a uniquely Jewish perspective, the selections are designed to appeal to readers of all faiths. “Aging Jewishly” offers a unique feature. For group discussions led by Activity and Program staff within retirement communities, “Aging Jewishly” offers audiences an opportunity to learn more about issues surrounding aging from the perspective of those who are living it.” –Rabbi Barbara Aiello