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Posts on the topic of "Aging"

New Zeidy!

Mar 23, 2012 at 02:22:33 AM

Yesterday, life hit a new high: My daughter gave birth to my first grandchild ― a beautiful, bouncy baby boy.

It is, in my estimation, life's greatest milestone.

When my wife and I got married and started a family of our own, we enjoyed every moment of this new and exciting adventure. Yet as the main characters in this script (and due in no small measure to our youth and inexperience) we did not appreciate it all from a deeper, outside perspective.

Now one generation later, as my daughter and son-in-law repeat the process, we are able to relive our own transition to parenthood, this time with a deeper appreciation. We know the dynamics, the pitfalls, the learning curve ― and the pure joy. We can step back and watch the thrill of this beautiful new family unfold.

Now here's why this strikes me as the peak lifecycle moment: Even more than the joy of having children is the joy of grandchildren.

Most creatures in the world have parent-child relationships ― whether a mother lion protecting her cubs or a mother bird feeding her young. Only the human being has a concept of grandchildren, of perpetuation beyond a single generation.

Our forefather Jacob, on his deathbed, blessed his grandchildren before blessing his children (Genesis ch. 48). It was a recognition that being a grandparent connects us to our future family line, an expression of our uniqueness as human beings.

And the reverse applies as well ― in my grandson's eyes, I am a key link to his past. That's why I've chosen to be called not Grandpa or Saba (Hebrew), or even Abuelo (Spanish), Dedushka (Russian) or Oupa (Afrikaans). I'm going to be called the Yiddish ― "Zeidy." Judaism is so steeped in tradition and this will be a link to our ancestral roots in eastern Europe.

Indeed, my own father would have wanted to be called Zeidy, had he lived long enough. This is my small way of honoring his memory. I only hope that I can be as good a Zeidy as he surely would have been.

My prayer is that our new (as yet unnamed) grandson will bring much nachas to his family and community, fulfilling the will of God with sincerity and joy, and always blessed with health and peace.

Visitor Comments: 8

(8) Abraham Seiman, March 28, 2012 8:37 PM

This is what our hearts tell us.

To you, Rebecca, Josh and Gina (please pass this along to your parents.)

(7) Anonymous, March 28, 2012 3:26 PM

Mazel tov!

Being a grandparent is SO much fun! It is very different than being a parent. It's strange & wonderful. As my rabbi likes to say, "If I knew having grandchildren could be so much fun, I would have had them first!" Enjoy and lots of nachos to the entire family!

(6) Joyce, March 27, 2012 5:47 PM


Mazal Tov Rabbi Simmons!! A big Mazal Tov to the members of your family too. Thanks for your wonderful blog.

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Glen Campbell: Forgetful But Not Forgotten

Feb 13, 2012 at 01:27:12 PM

Speaking of popular singers, this item caught my attention:

Glen Campbell, the five-time Grammy winner of "Wichita Lineman" fame, picked up a Lifetime Achievement award this week at the Grammy Awards.

And he has Alzheimer's disease.

Yet Glen is continuing to perform live in concert. When he has a spell of forgetfulness onstage ― losing his place in a song he's played thousands and thousands of times before ― the audience is totally supportive. They simply sing along in his place.

Glenn, at age 75, doesn't seem to mind.

"I just take it as it comes," he tells CNN. "I know that I have a problem with [forgetfulness], but it doesn't bother me. If you're going to have it handed to you, you have got to take it, anyway."

This got me thinking about how we treat people who have aged and are waning in their abilities. Judaism maintains a strong value in giving honor to those who no longer possess full mental faculties. As a recent article pointed out, the tablets of the Ten Commandments ― which Moses shattered ― were kept alongside the new tablets in the Ark of the Covenant. This teaches that we must always respect the elderly, even when they may be intellectually "broken."

As technology keeps us constantly focused on what's ahead, this news about the "Rhinestone Cowboy" is a gentle reminder on the importance of looking back, too.

on the yahrtzeit of my beloved Grandmother, Rose Gess

Visitor Comments: 2

(2) David Korman, February 14, 2012 3:21 PM

Thank you

Thank you for this commentary. As I deal with answering the same question for my father for the tenth time in an hour, may this column, and HaShem help me remain patient, understanding and appreciative.

(1) Michal, February 13, 2012 10:09 PM

just for you:

I really enjoy your blog!!! Your book I have ordered. Will come soon. How Judaism thinks about elderly, gives me a happy feeling.I once and again look into the mirror and get really frightened. Soo many wrincles.- But then I am happy that I can walk. And my voice comes back. I take my guitar and sing more often. D"sh cham to Keren.