Grapevine: An age-old problem

Jerusalem has the largest number of senior citizens in the country.

Melabev organisation, Jerusalem (photo credit: MELABEV ORGANISATION)
Melabev organisation, Jerusalem
DURING INTERNATIONAL Senior Citizens’ Day at the beginning of this month, Israel Radio conducted a marathon broadcast from Herzog Hospital, which is one of Israel’s leading centers for geriatric and psychiatric health care. Among those interviewed was Herzog Hospital’s Director General Dr. Yehezkel Caine, who said that Jerusalem has the largest number of senior citizens in the country. He also stated that a very large number of senior citizens in all parts of the country will be hospitalized at one time or another, and some will require permanent nursing care.
However, the government is not preparing for such an eventuality, he said, noting that there is an acute shortage of hospital beds. Caine underscored that investment in hospital infrastructure comes from private sources and not from the government, implying more or less that the nation’s health depends on donations.
Caine and his colleagues also commended Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach for his efforts towards extending the retirement age so that people who are still capable of contributing to the economy can continue to do so. Remaining mentally and physically active and having a purpose in life delay Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses associated with aging, said Caine. He added that the government must open more hospitals and ensure a massive increase in the number of hospital beds.
SOMEONE WHO will be able to put pressure on the government in this regard is Zvulun Orlev, a former MK and minister for social welfare, who has been elected as chairman of Melabev, the nonprofit organization that runs a series of day centers in Jerusalem that are devoted primarily to Alzheimer’s care and to people with memory impairment.
Orlev has been a long-term member of the board of Melabev, following the retirement of former chairman Harry Sapir, who has been associated with Melabev from its inception more than 30 years ago. Orlev is familiar with government bureaucracy, having once been part of it, and knows which strings to pull to get things done.
IT’S NOT unusual for bar- and bat-mitzva boys and girls, especially those from the United States and England, to share or donate their bar/bat-mitzva gifts with a project in Israel. Sometimes it’s simply organizing a party or a field trip for economically disadvantaged youngsters in their own age group; sometimes it’s establishing a new facility, such as a special classroom for a specified subject in a school; and sometimes it’s sponsoring a concert.
Soccer enthusiast Tyler Edwards, who is a student at Immanuel College in London, is a staunch fan of the Barcelona soccer team, which accounts to a large extent for the gift that he gave to the youngsters of the AMIT Frisch Beit Hayeled children’s home in Jerusalem. He persuaded his parents, Graham and Gina Edwards, who were thinking of a donation to AMIT, to earmark it for a mini soccer field for the children at risk who are cared for at Beit Hayeled.
Last week, Tyler and his parents came to Israel on a lightning 24-hour visit which, in addition to the inauguration of the soccer field, included a barbecue with the children who will benefit from it. This was Tyler’s second bar mitzva party. He’d already had one in London. The Edwards family stayed to watch the opening game and thrilled the youngsters by giving them all new Nike sneakers, soccer balls, shirts and sweatshirts, as well as a bunch of toys.
An excited Tyler said he felt privileged to be able to bring some happiness to the children. Looking out at the soccer field, he said, “This is the biggest gift I could ask for. Maybe because of my bar mitzva, there will be a new Neymar or Messi.”
His mother said that the initial plan had been to hold the bar mitzva at the Western Wall in August, but the plans were changed due to the security situation in the country. Instead, they decided to add more value to the party and include the children’s home in the celebration.
“Together with Tyler, we decided to share our joy with children in Israel. Bringing joy to these children is the greatest bar-mitzva gift,” she said.
Tyler’s father said, “It is a lesson for life, sharing your good fortune with others”