web analytics
April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Parent’

Honoring our Parents: Can We Learn from China?

Monday, August 26th, 2013

It is well known that millions of elderly Americans are neglected at their most vulnerable time. Jewish law, however, requires multiple times and in multiple ways that we honor our parents (Exodus 20:11, Exodus 21:15, Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 19:3, Deuteronomy 27:16).

The ancient exhortations to honor one’s parents endure into our age. As of July 1, 2013, China has required that adult children take care of their parents. The amended Law for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly states that adult children must visit their elderly relatives, and they are prohibited from insulting, mistreating, or abandoning them under pain of lawsuit. Wu Ming, the deputy department head in China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs said, “Family members should not ignore and isolate the elderly. And they should come often to visit.” Today, millions of Chinese workers live thousands of miles away from their parents, families are limited to one child per family, and the tradition values of filial piety have become more challenging to put into practice. But those who fail to take care of their parents will now be fined. This act may be in recognition of the aging of the Chinese population: There will be 221 million elderly (age 60 and older) in the country in 2015, and the percentage will reach about a third by 2050.

In Japan, another country with the longstanding value of filial piety, modern legislation assists families in paying for hired caregivers (although they cannot be family members). Elsewhere, many nations mandate some level of care for the elderly. While the Soviet Union no longer exists, some of its policies survive in the areas it used to control. For example, in much of the former Soviet bloc, the elderly can sue their children for child support, and siblings can sue each other to make sure the money is raised and the burden shared. In Western Europe, eldercare is typically ensured through social insurance programs. The most inclusive policy for the elderly can be found in Norway, where all of the elderly are guaranteed long-term care.

How does the United States, which has traditionally been reluctant in implementing social welfare policies taken for granted in Europe, compare with rest of the industrial world? Currently, nearly 10 million adults age 50 and older care for elderly parents, with little governmental assistance. This number has tripled in 15 years, so now about 1 in 4 adult children provide personal or financial care for their parents. A study conducted by a group of insurance, caregiving, and policy think tanks concluded that, taking into account wages and Social Security and pension money, the average adult who becomes a caregiver for an aging parent spends nearly $304,000. In addition, caregivers undergo tremendous stress, and suffer higher rates of cardiovascular disease and alcohol abuse, among other illnesses. On top of this, Social Security benefits here do not increase when personal care costs rise, as they do in some European nations.

One bright spot is that many adults can now take up to 12 weeks off from work to care for an ill parent (or any other family member) without losing their job under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Unfortunately, this does not go far enough, because this leave is without pay and therefore an unaffordable option for nearly all working Americans. Medicare may help pay for some short-term care, and Medicaid can cover expenses for those with in adequate resources, although these are dependent on individual state requirements, which are constantly under attack today. Currently, as the Medicare website notes, private funds are used for eldercare: “About half of all nursing home residents pay nursing home costs out of their own savings. After these savings and other resources are spent, many people who stay in nursing homes for long periods eventually become eligible for Medicaid.” In other words, if you want nursing care as an elderly person, be prepared to lose all your resources. Other programs, such as Meals on Wheels, are also dependent on state funding (with some federal aid that is also under attack), and we cannot assume that it will continue as is in the current atmosphere of austerity. Other options usually rely on independent insurance or health plans that require additional payments.

While the United States remains a wealthy nation, and many can afford their own care, we should heed Jewish law and truly honor our parents. The rabbis tell a story which is codified as law (Shulkhan Arukh YD 240:3).

They inquired of Rav Ula: “How far does honoring/dignifying parents extend?”

He said to them: “Go out and see what one [non-Jew] did in Ashkelon. His name was Dama ben Netinah. Once the Sages sought merchandise for a price of sixty myriads, but the key was resting under his father’s head, and he did not disturb him…. When Rav Dimi came, he said: Once he was wearing a gold diadem and sitting among the greats of Rome, when his mother came and tore it off him, and hit him over the head and spit in his face, but he did not humiliate her” (Kiddushin 31a).

Even when mistreated and shamed by a parent, many demands to honor parents still remain. To be sure, there are limits too!

One whose mother or father breaks down mentally – He must make the effort to behave with them in accordance with their condition until [Hashem] has mercy on them; but if he it is not possible for him to stand it, because they have become greatly insane – he may go and leave them behind, so long as he commands others to treat them properly (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 240:10).

Jewish law wisely and prophetically notes the mental and physical strain that an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s or dementia can have on a family. However, the law also mandates that we provide some degree of proper care for them. We should not force families to go into bankruptcy in order to avoid placing their parents in virtual warehouses where their parents will be neglected and mistreated.

The thing is that this is not only an ossified, unrealistic demand based on an idealized or no longer extant religious society. We see models for contemporary implementation around the world today, in China, Norway, and beyond. Our parents sacrificed so much for our well-being throughout their lives, when we were not able to fend for ourselves. As a society, we must recognize this and provide for them when they are no longer physically independent themselves.

Fighting The Tuition Crisis With Financially-Driven Parent Volunteer Programs

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

A recent CNN Money article focused on how more students than ever are requesting need-based financial aid from the private schools they attend. “Private schools are getting flooded with financial aid applications, and a growing number of the parents seeking help are earning $150,000 or more a year,” the article stated. It also pointed out that “overall, the average cost of tuition at private schools across all grades is nearly $22,000 a year, up 4% from a year ago and 26% higher than it was in the 2006-07 academic year, according to the National Association of Independent Schools.”

To make matters worse for private day schools, the recession of the past few years has adversely affected the fundraising numbers in many of these schools, especially in the geographical areas hardest hit. And if that wasn’t bad enough, once again the Obama administration, for a fifth time has proposed lowering the income tax deduction for charitable giving. By decreasing the value of itemized tax deductions for higher-income taxpayers, the president’s proposal would weaken the incentive for the wealthy to give to private day schools and other non-profit organizations.

In light of these developments, schools must consider new and innovative ways to increase income and reduce costs in order to maintain financial stability and fiscal health. One approach that should be considered is to institute a parent volunteer program. There are many schools throughout the country that have established parent volunteer programs. However, the central purpose of many of these programs is to benefit the educational quality of the school. That’s the objective behind Three for Me, a national parent volunteer organization running in thousands of schools across the U.S.

While enhancing educational quality through parent volunteer efforts is certainly worthwhile, schools should consider making financial goals the primary objective of such a program. By using the time and efforts of the parent body, schools can effectively convert hundreds of parent-hours into thousands of dollars in revenue and savings – in essence, monetizing the massive amount of man-hours of the parent body.

Many school administrations are already overworked and understaffed, so in order for such a program to succeed it would need to be low maintenance and easy to manage. Further, in order to generate the necessary volunteer hours to have a financial impact, parent participation would need to be made obligatory (staff excluded). There is a case to be made for making participation voluntary for full paying families while making financial aid grants conditional on participation. It is not unreasonable to ask the beneficiaries of financial aid to give a small amount of their time back to the school each year. However, in many schools, the perceived disparity would be a non-starter.

A little over ten years ago, the school I manage instituted such a program. We made participation obligatory for all families receiving tuition assistance and voluntary for all full-paying families. Staff was exempt. The results of the program are compelling. From a pool of approximately 200 parent volunteers, annual gross revenue raised totals on average $170,000 while annual costs savings total on average $30,000. The program’s methodology has been fine-tuned over the years so that today not only has it become a vital part of our operating budget, it takes a relatively small amount of time to administer.

Either way, undertaking and implementing such a program is a serious commitment. While the program is not difficult to manage once it is up and running, it can be somewhat time consuming to establish. In addition, there is no doubt that many parents will be less than happy with this new obligation. But by having the parents give back a minimum of one or two hours each month, the increase in revenue and cost savings can bring great financial relief to the school especially in these very difficult economic times.

Finally, it should be pointed out that this is only part of an overall solution. Schools need to adapt many of the best practices in corporate management in order to grow and thrive. Foremost is implementing strong and effective internal and financial controls and then training the staff with the knowledge to execute these controls properly. This should be done in conjunction with establishing proper governance and long-term strategic planning with active parent involvement.

A Thousand Arabs For One Jew

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

I have three grandsons serving in the Israel Defense Forces. If any one of them were, God forbid, captured, I would demand that every Arab murderer be set free so that my grandson would come home alive and well. I would demonstrate, argue, demand, organize marches, cry, fight, and scream that my grandson be freed.

All of the Arabs lumped together are not worth the life of any one of my grandsons.

This was the approach of the Shalit family and it appears, as this is being written, that their son will, thank God, be coming home shortly.

If I were the prime minister of Israel, however, I would not free even one Arab murderer who might return to kill more innocent children or adults.

How could I decide that releasing even one Arab murderer of Jews was justified? How could I ignore the future tears of parents and grandparents of children who would fall victim to any one of these thousand terrorists being released? How could I forget the tears of children already made orphans by Arab terrorists? How could I stand quietly and watch the smiling faces of the murderers being greeted with such joy by their fellow Arabs?

The Israel government’s action of freeing a thousand terrorists to achieve the return of one Jewish son strengthens us morally – but weakens us physically.

As a parent, I understand the Shalit family and believe that what they are doing is right. But as an Israeli and a Jew – and as a parent, grandparent and great-grandparent of Jews living in Israel who will all now be placed in greater danger by these thousand freed terrorists – I cannot believe that any intelligent government leaders would agree to such a deal.

How soon we – and the world – forget what our Arab neighbors are capable of. The 9/11 atrocity is just a few years old. The monument to the thousands who were murdered is still being built, yet the world is already forgetting.

What do you think the Arab terrorists have learned from previous deals and from this deal? Murder Jewish men, women and children and then capture one Israeli soldier and negotiate for the release of any Arab murderers captured by the Jews. They can kill Jews, they realize, because Israelis are so compassionate and foolish that if the terrorists succeed in capturing even one Israeli, they can negotiate the freedom of many of the terrorist murderers.

To understand the Arab mentality, we need only remember the reaction of the Arab “man in the street” when Israel released terrorists in the past and when news came of the destruction of 9/11 – the dancing in the streets, the distribution of candy to children, the granting of pensions to families of terrorists. And then there were all the celebrations, videotaped for the world to see, glorifying the murder of innocent Jewish children and adults.

What does that say about the national character of the Arab world?

I am impressed by the Jewish compassion for even one Jewish soul. But I am appalled by the foolishness of our Israeli government. Jewish leaders are required to be concerned about all Jews. When we free a thousand terrorists – many with Jewish blood on their hands – we are again proving to the Arabs how weak and fearful we really are.

They understand that by capturing an Israeli boy or girl they can generate a huge amount of public pressure among Israelis to trade a thousand of their terrorists for one Jew. We also quickly forget how many soldiers sacrificed their lives in the attempt to capture many of these Arab terrorist prisoners.

If Prime Minister Netanyahu can no longer take the heat of the righteous pressure applied by families and friends of Jewish captives, he should resign and let someone stronger take his place.

It is not easy being a leader. It is very difficult being the prime minister of a Jewish nation. But it is wrong to free a thousand Arab terrorists to roam the world looking for more Jewish victims. Does anyone think Gilad Shalit’s freedom is worth more than the lives of those who, God forbid, will be murdered by these freed terrorists?

The Shalit family left the protest tent in Jerusalem they had occupied for more than a year and headed home after news of the impending release of their son was broadcast. One commentator suggested that they not dismantle the tent because it may, unfortunately, soon be needed by another Israeli family whose son will be kidnapped and held hostage by Arab terrorists demanding the freeing of other murderers.

I am happy for the Shalit family. (As mentioned earlier, this is being written before the actual finalization of the deal for Shalit’s release; I only hope Netanyahu was smart enough to make sure Shalit was alive before freeing any terrorists.) But I am sad for the rest of us. We may yet end up paying an even higher price for their son.

Dov Gilor is a longtime Jewish Press contributor and columnist.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-thousand-arabs-for-one-jew/2011/10/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: