Reform Rabbis Urged to Protect Senior Members of Their Congrzgations

American Reform rabbis were urged to undertake active assistance to senior members of congregations to protect them against “the exploitation and victimization of the older person in our communities.”

The recommendation was contained in a report by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform rabbinical organization. Rabbi Norbert L. Rosenthal, chairman of its Committee on the Aging noted in the report that the CGAR convention this year received a special report on “creation of an effective service program for the older persons in our congregations.”

The goals cited in the special report were to arrange provision of companionship and new friends for the elderly, to help members do things for themselves and for others, to stimulate new interests and develop new skills and to create “whole some and positive attitudes toward the process of aging.”

Rabbi Rosenthal also reported that the committee considered “the more outlandish customs and practices developing around funeral and burial services” in Reform congregations. The committee proposed. “as a means of simplifying or even eliminating the trappings and appurtenances surrounding the bier, that a simple casket covering or pall be acquired by our Temples for utilization” during funeral services.

“Every congregation could design its own special pall, or perhaps one unique to our movement could be commissioned by the Conference for standard usage,” the report said. “In any event a return to more traditional simplicity in our funerary customs is manifestly called for.

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