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Scheduled & Proposed Book Discussions => Number Our Days ~ June - July Book Club Online => Topic started by: ginny on May 02, 2017, 01:13:36 PM

Title: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on May 02, 2017, 01:13:36 PM
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

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They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it in NYC, and let the subjects speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us June 15!



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on May 02, 2017, 01:27:39 PM
Welcome!

This extraordinary book was recommended in one of our other book discussions. I had never heard of it, but I sure am glad I have.  I can't put it down.

I recently saw the movie Going in Style with Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, and Morgan Freeman.

It's funny and cute but  you know what I liked about it the most? It accurately portrays the attitudes the aging have to put up with  at the hands of most of the public.  Michael Caine spoken to by a bank manager as if he were a somewhat slow 5 year old. The assumptions of the people they meet and those they love about their capabilities. And the way life tends to treat those no longer 40.

Is 70 the new 40?

The book opens with Basha, 89. She lives in NYC. She wants to remain independent. Her daughter continually urges her to move to her area, to her house. She says her mother is "stupid" for staying there.

Basha speaks for herself:

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Join us June 15, and let's talk.

Everyone is welcome!

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on May 02, 2017, 11:04:22 PM
This is a wonderful book, and what a splendid excerpt, Ginny, to serve as an invitation to a good read and a good discussion. Basha, at 89, is so articulate. Let's let her take us to the Center:

'...always there's something doing there.'
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on May 03, 2017, 10:32:09 AM
Oh Ginny, I can't wait til June to begin this book!  Just reading the excerpt has brought tears to my eyes.  My son's mother in law lost her husband in March, they immediately moved her into their home out of her's which she has lived in since a child, all the years of her marriage and raised her children there.  It is not in the best area of our city, but it is her home and neighbors have watched out for her knowing her husband had bad health.  She has confided in me that she is not sure she wants to leave her house to live with my son and her daughter and their three children.  She is on a waiting list for an apartment which will be at least a year.  My heart hurts for her.  How do we decide how to proceed in life as we age and lose our loved one?  I'm thinking this book will give us some insight.

"Here I have lived for thirty-one years, I have my friends."
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on May 03, 2017, 03:00:19 PM
Lots of insight, Bellamarie. And tons of hindsight, naturally. And of course, attempts at foresight...garnished with superstition. This from the back cover:

'When noted anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to explore the process of aging, she decided to study some elderly Jews from Venice, California, rather than to report on a more exotic people. The story of the rituals and lives of these remarkable old people is, as Bel Kaufman said, "one of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."

Here Dr. Myerhoff records the stories of a culture that seems to give people the strength to face enormous daily problems - poverty, neglect, loneliness, poor health, inadequate housing and physical danger. The tale is a poignant one, funny, and often wise, with implications for all of us about the importance of ritual, the agonies of aging, and the indomitable spirit.'

A very good read at any age.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on May 03, 2017, 04:00:21 PM
Wow!  Jonathan "insight, hindsight and foresight, garnished with superstition."  I can hardly wait!  I am going to buy the book instead of borrowing from the library, it sounds like a keeper. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on May 03, 2017, 05:55:04 PM
My library system doesn't have it, though the Portland, OR system does, so I got it from Abe Books.  They have a ton of them for less than $4.  I, too, am looking forward to it.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on May 03, 2017, 09:14:15 PM
Oh wonderful! So good to see so  many people already!

Welcome, Jonathan, and thank you for recommending it, I had never heard of it: what a treasure it appears.

Welcome Bellamarie, How do we decide how to proceed in life as we age and lose our loved one?  I'm thinking this book will give us some insight. I agree.

This subject is something we all probably have some  experience with, or we've heard somebody else's experiences,   in one way or another. If we live long enough, it might even be us.  Old age not being for sissies, I am also hoping to gain some insights and inspiration from their examples. I am already impressed with the 89 year old taking the bus to go shopping.

It's a mindset I hope to understand.

I had hoped we might be able to contact the author. Dr. Myerhoff, but she died in 1985, at the age of 50.

Welcome, PatH! I wish my book would come, I ordered it some time ago, and  still it's not here. 

This is wonderful insightful company with which to discuss such a book. I am tremendously  looking forward to it. 

Everyone is welcome!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on May 03, 2017, 09:21:16 PM
I think Bellamarie has identified here an issue that happens a lot: they immediately moved her into their home out of her's which she has lived in since a child, all the years of her marriage and raised her children there.  It is not in the best area of our city, but it is her home and neighbors have watched out for her knowing her husband had bad health.  She has confided in me that she is not sure she wants to leave her house to live with my son and her daughter and their three children.

And there you have it, actually: a dilemma in which you can see both sides. From both perspectives. It raises so many questions...about a lot of things. This is going to be a good one.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on May 04, 2017, 10:19:18 AM
Ginny, indeed it is a dilemma and is ongoing.  My son was over the other day and was so distraught, he has anxiety issues and takes meds for it. He confides in me when he feels very stressed, and he just does not know what the best solution is for everyone in this situation.  He loves his mother in law, but knowing she could be living in his home for a year is not what any of them expected.  He and his wife are very health conscious, the mother in law is diabetic and overweight so they try to encourage her to do the things to manage her diabetes but she refuses and sneaks sweets into their house.  Her doctor recommended grief counseling and also for her to go to a podiatrist, but she refuses to go.  I'm thinking everyone in this situation may have acted a bit too hasty, even though it was out of the goodness of their hearts.  They are young, active and healthy, she is aging, not so active or healthy.  To add to the mix, they are Catholic and she is Jehovah Witness, so they feel uncomfortable celebrating birthdays and holidays in their home now that she is living with them.  It reminds me of the excerpt from this book:

"Nobody talks Yiddish."

I may buy her a copy of this book when I purchase mine, on second thought I may buy my daughter in law a copy as well.

I found the paperback for only 2.00 plus 3.00 for shipping & handling at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.  I'm headed to Barnes and Noble today so hopefully they will have it in the store and I can save on the shipping & handling. 

PatH.,  What is Abe Books?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on May 04, 2017, 12:51:51 PM
It's an online used book store. 

https://www.abebooks.com/ (https://www.abebooks.com/)

They seem at least partly to act as a clearing house for many little used book stores.  If you search a book, you get a list, by increasing price, of available copies, from different bookstores.  So you can pick by description, price, and bookseller.  Look at the location of the seller; a few are in the UK.

Bellamarie, I had some similar thoughts about your son's MIL, but I'll save them for the discussion.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on May 04, 2017, 05:12:03 PM
To all who are thinking of reading and talking about Number Our Days: Indulge yourselves in great expectations. Without a doubt, you will be thrilled to have lived to enjoy it.

I am sorry to learn that the author died not too long after writing this gem of a book. Here is some information  from the back cover:

'The chairperson of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California, Dr. Myerhoff collaborated on a film about her work while she was doing the research for Number Our Days. It won the 1977 Academy Award for best short documentary.'

Where could one find this film? Does anyone know?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on May 04, 2017, 05:18:39 PM
Youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aZY1IZc2MU

If this is it. I am not sure I want to watch it before I read the book, if some of you do, let me know how it affects the book.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on May 05, 2017, 09:06:31 AM
PatH.,  I can't wait to hear your thoughts.

Jonathan, Did you watch the documentary? 

Ginny, Thanks for the link.  I can't believe she died at such a young age.  I may check this out.


We have had heavy rain, wind and cold temps for the past few days.  I went out to do my daily walk inside the mall yesterday and ran out of time to stop in at Barnes and Noble to look for the book.  May venture back out today. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on May 05, 2017, 02:51:53 PM
Shucks! It won't come up for me. But thanks, Ginny. It's good to know it's out there, and I will get around to it. This cranky old computer of mine...it's days are numbered. Oh, gosh. Are mine also numbered? Just what is suggested by the  title? Look back? Take stock? Look forward? As in 'Come my friends, 'tis not too late to seek a newer world.' A front page headline in my newspaper yesterday: The elderly now outnumber the children. Over 65, or under 15.

But I was determind to watch something, so I dug up Going In Style and enjoyed it immensely. The old version, with Strasburg, Art Carney and George Burns. Sad and funny. I hope I never lose my knowledge of right and wrong. But what an encouragement to go out and try one's luck in Las Vegas. Not that I need it. I can afford a creamed cheese and jelly sandwich any time I like. And that's often.

Good for you, Bellamarie, on doing that daily walk and what a fine place the Mall turns out to be on a rainy day. Part of my daily ritual is clearing my throat. I do that by reading aloud with all the feeling I can muster. I'm alone and not disturbing anyone. Currently I'm working my way through two books: Churchill's wartime speeches in the House, and George F. Kennans Diaries. Both great stylists.

But for now, it's off to the Center to see what Basha and her friends are up to. They're off to rediscover an Old World, methinks.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on May 05, 2017, 09:02:44 PM
Ginny that link you posted is only 1 minute 25 seconds long.  Under the comments section they mention how they can not find the entire interview. 

Jonathan I plan to find that movie this weekend and watch it, I might be able to find it on Netflix.  No, your time is not running out, but you do need to consider getting a new computer.  I had to purchase one last year,  Windows 10 is so frustrating.  I've learned it but hate it!!! 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on May 07, 2017, 03:01:53 PM
George F. Kennan, the diplomat and historian, lived to be 101. He was a compulsive writer, and  everything he wrote is a pleasure to read. Including his diaries. Anything and everything serves as subject matter. A hot summer day in Bagdhad, or the message in last night's dream: 'Someone was trying to say something to me. But what?'

And what does he write in his diary at 94? How is this for an active mind:

May 3, 1998: 'Fell to reflecting on Christ's profoundly deep-seated conviction that he was the Son of God, as well as 'the son of man.' But of what God? What was God "like?" Where was he seated? Had Jesus ever really been there? Of all this, we are told nothing. And since he was born of woman, must have passed infancy and childhood in this world, and since there are no evidences of long absences in his life as a youth, how and when could he have known God? Have been recognized by the latter as his son, and assured himself of the filial relationship?

'They are of, course, silly, inept questions, ignoring and sidestepping the elements of divine mystery, without which there could have been no real Chritianity. And they could easily be misinterpreted. But they and similar questions suggest to me that the God of whom Jesus spoke was, whether or not he himself was aware of this, a concept of his own creative imagination. This sounds, of course, as though I were saying that his God did not really exist, that he was only a figment of his imagination. But things were more complicated than this. The vision Jesus had of God was one not only of imagination but of intuition and of super-conscious conviction, and it was a vision of such power and magnificence that he could see only some deeper meaning in his very awareness of it - that it must have had some ultimate reality, and that he was in some way selected as the conveyor of it to the life of his time.'
(p663)

On March 8, Kennan had written:'The scandal of Mr.Clinton's relationship to his Jewish girl intern is  grinding, more and more sordid and wearisome every day...no one can help him now.'

Feeling outrage at 94! Good for him.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on May 07, 2017, 03:19:45 PM
A deep thinker indeed!  Wonder if he believed in God, and if he followed any organized religion/faith? 
So he had an opinion on Mr. Clinton.  Can only imagine what he would have felt about Mrs. Clinton and all her scandals throughout this past election year.  It probably made him roll over in his grave!   ;D
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on May 10, 2017, 06:07:07 PM
'Growing old is not for sissies.'  The author saw it as a high wire act as she watched her elderly friends maintaining their balance in difficult situations.

Shall we switch. I have two interesting alternatives. Somehow it's not surprising that there is little interest in this book. 'Been there. Done that.'? The experience put a guilt trip on the author. Simply for being only half their age. But she was fascinated and spent five years on the research. Permit me to quote her:

'But I would be  a little old Jewish lady one day; thus, it was essential for me to learn what that condition was like, in all its particulars. As a society, we are increasingly cut off from the elderly. We do not have them in the midst of our daily lives, and consequently have no regular acccess to models of successful old age. How can we do anything but dread the coming of age? I consider myself very fortunate in having had, through this work, an opportunity to anticipate, rehearse, and contemplate my own fortune. This has given a temporal integration to my life that seems to me an essential  ingredient in the work of maturing.' p19

How sad that she never had an 'old age' of her own. She died at 50. 

I brought home two prominsing books yesterday: No Place For A Lady, Tales of Adventurous Women Travellers, by Barbara Hodgson. Lavishly illustrated with quaint travel pictures and portraits. And the second one:The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age. Also known as the witch of Wall Street. I read an earlier bio of her, years ago. The Day They Shook the Plum Tree, by Arthur H. Lewis. Is that familiar to anyone?

Rereading Number Our Days twenty-five years along is a whole new experience. Now I'm almost Basha's age and I'm full of admiration at her spunk and spirit.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on May 11, 2017, 04:19:29 PM
Jonathan: Shall we switch. I have two interesting alternatives. Somehow it's not surprising that there is little interest in this book. 'Been there. Done that.'?


Switch books? Not me. I'm here if you all are.  I have a lot to learn from these strong survivors.  Been there? I'm not 89 yet and when I am I hope I can take,  if I want to,  a bus to get groceries.

WE are the Greatest Generation. WE are the generation who walked across Europe after WWII. Give up this book discussion? Please.   If there is anybody here at all,  we'll make a HECK of a great discussion, especially with the people now assembled. It IS a month off.

There is a lot to learn in this book, news WE can use, to our advantage. It's how you live not that you live.

Just two days ago on the BBC App (strongly recommended for anybody for news) they featured a 105 year old physician still seeing patients and his exercise regime for the day. Very inspiring. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on May 12, 2017, 05:40:34 PM
A wonderful response, Ginny. Yes, we will make a great discussion out of this book. It's a thriller. It is a world to discover. A great scene. We soon realize that there are more players than even Shakespeare conjured up in his 'All the world's a stage.'

Have a good time in Barcelona. I'm sure you'll have a good time at the soccer game. Or the bullfight? I must tell you sometime why Barcelona is a good place to look for a husband.

Still practicing medicine at 105!!! My hero is also 105. I have his picture on my fridge, on his two-wheel racer, setting new records. Going in style.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on May 13, 2017, 08:57:39 AM
Shall we switch?  Oh heavens NO!  I am all excited to read, discuss and learn from this book.  Jonathan don't take people not seeming interested as a judgement to the choice of book we are reading.  The participation in posting comments has dwindled regardless of what the topic of the book is.  I just finished the discussion led my PatH., and Joan the book Hidden Figures and was shocked at how few seemed to post and yet we had a book that I felt would really spur on conversation.  I'm not sure why so few are posting anymore.  I like Ginny's enthusiasm,  "WE are the Greatest Generation. WE are the generation who walked across Europe after WWII. Give up this book discussion? Please.   If there is anybody here at all,  we'll make a HECK of a great discussion, especially with the people now assembled. It IS a month off."

We are indeed the Greatest Generation, and I fear there will be no greater generation to come after us!  We are the Baby Boomers, we have lived it all, and are still living through the changes with technology, politics, the millennials, and heaven only knows what the next generation will be called.  Our generation never gives up!  So onward we will go with this book, not to mention we have two of the most highly spirited conversationalists already present in you my dear Jonathan and Ginny. 

I think about the age of Basha, 89 years young.  I will be turning 65 in July and I only pray I will be blessed to live to be 89.  Yes, it is sad the author did not live to experience old age.

For all you mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers out here I wish you a very Happy Mother's Day!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on May 13, 2017, 01:44:01 PM
I agree with both of you, this is going to be wonderful.

I am entranced by reading the reviews on Goodreads. How many young people were assigned this in Anthropology classes and how much everybody of every age enjoyed it.

Who here is not getting old? What's the alternative? I like the thought of being a Boomer, but I'm too old, but from what I'm reading this should be required reading for every Boomer, who may be finding it hard to adjust to being...gasp..."old." 

There's nobody on this website  who can't discuss the issues in this book from personal experience, either by  knowing somebody or having lived thru it themselves. I feel there's SO much to learn from these folks: the grace with which they handled it or the lack thereof. Who was it that said do not go gentle into that good night?  Rage, rage against the dying of the light? Which are we? Which is the best approach? And the reviews just intrigue me more:
 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/546095.Number_Our_Days

I hope we can take this one slowly and just discuss the issues to our heart's content. I have a LOT of questions I would love to hear everybody's opinions on. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on May 13, 2017, 02:42:05 PM
My book has come, slightly yellowed paper, but clean and in good condition, so I'm ready to go.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on May 13, 2017, 08:09:45 PM
YAY, Pat!! So good to see you here!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on May 14, 2017, 09:07:33 PM
'Old age should burn and rave at close of day.'

Young Dylan Thomas didn't know what he was talking about. Or did he? Citing him, however, is a good indication of where this book might take us. Thanks, Ginny.

I just checked out the Goodreads reviews. What a lot of enthusiasm. I'm not surprised that the book is on many college reading lists. Let's give it a whirl. It was over the horizon for me, the first time I read it. You don't have to know Yiddish. It's all explained. Let's go for groceries. The shopping list  will be provided.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on May 16, 2017, 08:17:54 AM
I'm heading out for Barnes and Noble today to see if they have the book before ordering it.  I especially like this quote. 
(Please feel free to resize to a smaller pic I haven't figured that out yet.) 

(https://www.quotemaster.org/images/ac/ac9fd2c32128383b9b4bc4fc3284dbf9.jpg)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on May 18, 2017, 09:51:37 AM
PatH.,  Thank you for the info on Abe books, I just ordered my copy today for only $3.65.  I tried all the used book stores and no one has it. Barnes and Noble checked and said they could try to track it down and my local used book store offered to also but I decided to just go through Abe online.  They said it is out of print so the only way to get it now is online. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on May 18, 2017, 10:56:33 PM
Very pleased to hear that you've ordered the book, Bellamarie. Pat  already has her copy, yellowed by days, which will only add to its charm. And Ginny is waiting for hers to arrive, with anticipation.

'I hope we can take this one slowly and just discuss the issues to our heart's content. I have a LOT of questions I would love to hear everybody's opinions on.'

I agree wholeheartedly on that, Ginny. I'm looking forward to this. How high can you count? How high do you want to count? At 85, I decided to make a U-turn and retrace my steps. After hearing the reports of a second childhood, I decided to recapture my first. Y'all remember 'trailing  those clouds of glory' when you  arrived on this earth? (Wordsworth?) Listen to the story these people have to tell. The author felt that she might have picked a more exotic branch of the human family, but that was hardly possible.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on May 19, 2017, 04:24:22 PM
I too agree, I hope we can take this slowly.  There is no hurry, we can discuss any and all thoughts and issues til our hearts content.  Jonathan I love the U-turn retracing your steps.  I feel like I find myself doing that more and more lately.  I have a lot of what ifs, or if only I would haves....
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on May 29, 2017, 10:30:43 AM
Ollie, Ollie, Oxen free......where is everyone?  Our discussion begins in just a few days.  I got my book from Abe Books online for $3.65 and no shipping and handling.  Came in perfect condition and waited just a week for it to arrive.  Thank you PatH., for the info.  See ya'll on June 1st.  Having the kids/grandkids over for swim/bbq today.  Happy Memorial Day!!!
(https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/e0/9a/b6/e09ab6d9b9932de99288bc5c10ca3568.jpg)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on May 29, 2017, 02:08:51 PM
It starts the 15th.  Ginny, the leader, is still off admiring Roman ruins.

JoanK and I are still recovering from a magnificent family wedding, and I guess the rest of us are celebrating the start of the swimming season.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on May 29, 2017, 07:21:23 PM
Thanks for letting me know PatH., I guess I missed seeing it starts on the 15th.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on May 30, 2017, 05:54:11 PM
It might be nice to hear more of the magnificent family wedding, Pat, as it will be to hear about ancient Roman ruins when Ginny gets back. And the mention of Memorial Day, Bellamarie, brings back many memories of Memorial Days my wife and I spent, vacationing in the U.S. We always enjoyed the parades. In a small village on Cape Cod, or in Gettysburg, the Civil War shrine.

What a book. And what a good author. Imagine my surprise, finding her anthologized in The Oxford Book of Aging. She has some wise words about a very curious 'developmental task of old age.' She does keep her old folks busy, as we shall find out.

It was just for fun that I mentioned the subject of recapturing one's childhood; but Myerhoff gets serious about it. The talk is about 'magical Proustian moments;' but then she gets serious, as in this:

'Often such moments involve childhood memories, and then one experiences the self as it was originally, and knows beyond doubt that one is the same person as that child who still dwells within a time-altered body. Integration through memory with earlier states of being surely provides the sense of continuity and completeness that may be counted as an essential developmental task of old age.'

And I can't get over her disagreement with Dr. Freud:

'Freud has suggested that the completion of the mourning process requires that those left behind develop a new reality which no longer includes what has been lost. But it must also be said that full recovery from mourning may restore what has been lost, maintaining it through incorporation into the present. Full recollection and retention may be as vital to recovery and well-being as the forfeiture of memories.'

I find that very consoling. And true. I was under the  impression that Ginny was going to Barcelona, Spain. Of course the Romans scattered their ruins all over the place.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on May 31, 2017, 10:34:06 AM
Oops.  You're right, Jonathan; I forgot she said she was going to Barcelona.  but knowing Ginny, I feel sure there will be Roman artifacts somewhere in her trip.

I agree with you that it's wrong to say that mourning includes making a reality that doesn't include what was lost.  That's part of you, and it isn't going to go away, and shouldn't.  There is a kind of rearranging, life is different, but the past is not lost.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 01, 2017, 04:27:18 PM
Well now, could we see this as a Freudian slip?  I can't imagine thinking we must develop a new reality which no longer includes what has been left behind.  My lost loved ones remain in my thoughts, heart, memories and prayers.  I could never leave them behind.  They are a part of who I am, it is impossible to leave them behind.

I have a friend trekking through Europe with a group of college students and teachers.  She has been posting the most amazing pictures on Facebook.  I feel as if I am traveling along with her. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 03, 2017, 05:07:02 PM
A Freudian slip. That's an interesting way to see it, Bellamarie. Dealing with memories, as with dreams, is a tricky business. But isn't psychiatry all about chasing memories and dreams? And doing things with them. Then the anthropologist comes along and a new dimension is added. Of course this disagreement never comes up in our book.

Interesting that you should bring up prayers. There are some lovely Jewish prayers spoken on remembrance occasions. Here are a couple:

'But if we were to  let remembrance of kindred and friends vanish like smoke, they would die in us a second death.'

'In praying Thee to remember the dead, we plead that our remembrance of them be not merely a passing flutter of regret, but a spur to nobler living.'


How to make a new life for oneself? Isn't that an interesting proposition for the elderly?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 09, 2017, 10:43:10 PM
5 - Counting the days. The numbering with its wisdom will come later, hopefully. I'm thrilled at the prospect of making it to Venice. With an ocean view! I propose we meet on the boardwalk - early - to get one of the benches.

'As the morning wears on, the benches fill. Benches are attached back to back, one side facing the ocean, one  side the boardwalk. The people on the ocean side swivel around to face their friends... it's like a village plaza, a focus of protracted, intense sociability.'

What's this Lower East Side crowd doing in California? Let's join them and find out. We're few in numbers, so one bench will accomodate us just nicely. Who needs a minyen. The new dispensation goes - where two or three are gathered together for a serious purpose....it's all about choosing the right bench:

'The women's benches are given more to talk about immediate personal matters - children, food, health, neighbors, love affairs, scandals, and 'managing.' '

Why does the author have them 'numbering' their days?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 11, 2017, 02:31:46 AM
Ginny, due to moving to my new villa (that's what they call them)😄😄! On the 15th and will still be moving on the rest of the month, I am not going to have much to say.  Probably nothing! I have read about the fist half but don't have time to finish it.  Sorry about that!  Hope you all enjoy it!🤓❤️🙏
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 11, 2017, 09:02:48 AM
Well I can certainly understand that, Ann, and I hope in the excitement of moving you may still find some time to drop by since you are actually living the very theme of the book, your reflections will be of great interest.

I found on my trip that I myself am suddenly and somewhat unfortunately also living the theme of the book. I'm surprised at the number of people who want to suddenly carry my bags, who ask in a concerned manner,  "are you OK?" (what, do I appear to be dying?)   People who, kind souls that they are, I hope they are all blessed 10000 fold, but why are they grabbing my bags and taking them on and off trains, plains, and buses?  Can't they see I'm 29? And perfectly fit? That last woman in the airport I swear was  older than I am. Have I, overnight, become "elderly?"

I found that I can't keep up with two 40 year olds and a 10 year old all day long and I mean all day, (all of whom are in splendid shape but guess who was not and thought she was?) and suddenly it's really been evident to me when it wasn't before.

This is going to take some adjustment.  Should I sign up now for a physical Olympic Training for the Elderly  course? Whither?  It's really quite a shock, nothing like international travel to reveal it, and I think at any age that's what we ask ourselves as we, perennially young in spirit,  (I'm about 29 like Jack Benny, right?) begin to realize that maybe we're not.

So is this it?

On the trip I picked up Margaret Drabble's new book The Dark Flood Rises. Perhaps you've heard of it. I don't like Margaret Drabble, never did, but she CAN write, I don't admire  her feud with her sister A.S. Byatt for one thing (which is none of my business) but the first lines caught my eye: "She has often suspected that her last words to herself and to the world will prove to be 'You bloody old fool,' or perhaps, depending on the mood of the day or the time of the night,' you f****ing idiot.'"

Now there are some opening words.  Drabble, who herself is no Spring Chicken, is being honest here, perhaps something we've all thought, or maybe you haven't, I've had people say something very like that to me before, and I sometimes wonder what IT means, and so I'm reading it in tandem.

She said she chose to write about this age group and issues because nobody else was.  How can it be that there are so many of "us," or what appear to be "us," (as I apparently am now in that category?) and yet no books for our experience?

Well Myerhoff has written a humdinger about "us,"  and knowing Drabble,  (who is writing fiction and Myerhoff is not) there will be some differences in opinion expressed. How could there not be? I think this is a wonderful opportunity to be honest about aging and I'm tremendously looking forward to  our opening day Wednesday.

(If the green ink bothers you, please say so. I'm used to doing it, I do it in the Latin classes, and it seems odd to leave it out. I note the new issue of Consumer Reports taking up issues in aging  puts their text in white ink on a light green background. Really? Who can read that who is interested in those issues? So if the green offends, it's out, let me know?)

Everyone is welcome!

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 11, 2017, 10:01:37 AM
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/NumberourDayscover.jpg)


They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it on subjects in the USA, and let them speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us June 15! 

Questions to Ponder on  Chapter 1

Chapter 1 is a scholarly defense of the subject matter....hard to read... if you don't like these questions, add your own:


1.   a. Who is this a study of?  b. What makes it a unique sample?

2.   How  would you characterize the elders in this study?  Are they high-functioning?  Well-off?

3.   What does the Center fulfill for the men and women on the Boardwalk?

4.   What made for successful aging among the elders?

5.   How does the Jewish faith affect the men and women's approach to aging?  How do they envision old age?

6.   What do you think the psalm "So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom" mean to you?

7.   What do you think of these elders?  Do they impress you, annoy you?  Do they remind you of relatives?


I'm going to add some non stock questions  I think are important, too, in fact they are what jumped out at me, what jumped out at YOU?

1. What seems to be the most important thing to the people she is writing about? What do you think the most important thing to YOU would be?

2. What function does the "Center" have for the community of elders that use it?

These two questions, in my mind, are not related, but they may be, in yours.


Ginny!  Well the green doesn't offend but, for me, it's harder to read than black.  I stopped using teal or green which I sometimes even used in bold.  But I decided that just plain black is best for my eyes.

I have never read a Drabble offering.  I think reading her fiction at the same time we are discussing Number Our Days might be an interesting undertaking.  I might order The Dark Flood Rises from my library.

Well I must return to packing my books for library who are glad to have donations. I have an emotional attachment to my books and giving them away is excruciating!!!😢😢😢😢😢❤️❤️❤️❤️🙏🙏🙏❤️🤓!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 11, 2017, 12:10:08 PM
Welcome home Ginny!  I am like Annie, the green text is difficult for my eyes.  I have been having dry eye and irritation for about a year now and I notice certain brightness and color of text does irritate them more so than plain black text. I also noticed my eyes are more irritated if I read from my ipad vs a book, so I am happy to keep purchasing my books to add to my library.  Our member Barb St. Aubrey has been less active in the discussions due to her eyes giving her some problems. I have spoken with her and she is going to try to drop in from time to time. I guess it's an aging thing..... I wonder if our character discusses the changes in her sight as she gets older.  Guess we'll find out soon!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 11, 2017, 01:08:13 PM
I am passing by and seeing the mention of dry eye. Dry eye bothers me from time to time and also bothered my father, but during a lunch a couple of weeks ago, one of my friends told me that Dr. Korb in Boston is having some good advice on treating dry eye. I haven't got chance to investigate into this and experiment with myself yet, but thought just paste the links here if any of you might be interested in reading:

http://www.neco.edu/news/entry/dr.-donald-korb-lectures-about-dry-eye

http://korbassociates.com/eyecare-services/dry-eye.html?_ga=2.42328099.74229380.1497200305-50103585.1497200305

My friend has known Dr. Korb for a long time, he said Dr. Korb invented a new type of contact lens and sold the patent to Bausch & Lomb for $25 millions which he invested now into his research on dry eye. So seems he had some track record for innovative research, but I don't know him myself and you will have to judge yourself. I only hope it does work!


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 11, 2017, 04:55:29 PM
Good luck on your sorting and moving, Annie.  Take care of yourself as much as possible.  :-*
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 11, 2017, 05:08:10 PM
Welcome back, Ginny.  I've found that people's offers of help increase in jumps, not linearly, and I'm never sure what change (if any) in me sparks a jump.  I'm guessing that the efforts to keep up with a 10 year old, plus the fact that you probably couldn't always take breaks when you needed, made you look rather tired, and that was what they responded to.  If you went back on your own, you might not get so many offers.

Regardless of whether I need the help offered, take it or don't, I always try to say something to make the person feel good about having offered.  They deserve it, and they won't be scared off from offering help when it's really needed.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 11, 2017, 10:38:12 PM
Pardon me, Ginny, that I should be laughing after reading your splendid post. It would look good in any color. And I thought we would be hearing about Barcelona! As it is, it's a grand portal into the book we are about to read. Do we, in fact, need the book? As they relate to your experience, people will be posting.

Just look at all the experience and good sense Pat has picked up in all her travelling.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 12, 2017, 10:03:54 AM
Hongfan,  thank you for the links and info on dry eye.  I will be bringing this to my eye doctor's attention my next visit.

Ginny, I had to giggle at your post, indeed we do not see ourselves as our age rather 29 as you choose for yourself, and we all have a number we have stuck our self on.  I'm not sure what age I am stuck on, but I do know it's not my present age of 63.  I can say when I was at my son's house yesterday on their deck by the pool getting up and down to dangle my legs in the water surely told me I am not my imagined age in my head.  Oh how I hate when reality hits me in the face.  Now that school is out I will be having my two grandkids 6 and 9 yrs old, three days a week.  They are so active and my hubby and I are exhausted by the end of each day.  They keep us young, but our body says is it rest time.

Annie,  Good luck with your move.  My hubby and I have tossed around the idea of moving a little closer to our kids now that they have bought homes 30 minutes from us.  They think for some reason it's time for us to move into a condo close to them.  First off, we are completely contented and capable to keep up our home we have lived in for 35 years.  Secondly, we are not yet ready to downsize into a condo, and thirdly even though the drive to each of their houses is hectic expressway, we do still like being in our end of town.  I do have to admit I love the quaint little town setting of Perrysburg where my one son is moving to this week, and I could easily see my hubby and I moving there one day.  Oh but, just the thought of going through our attic things horrify me.

PatH.,  I am with you, when ever someone offers me help I graciously thank them with an, "I'm good."  As my Mom always said, "Don't look a gift horse in the house." 

 
 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 12, 2017, 12:06:21 PM
Ooops I meant in the "mouth"
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 12, 2017, 01:45:50 PM
Oh how I hate when reality hits me in the face.

Yes, Ma'am, in any shape or form.

Thank you, hongfan, (and welcome!) for that interesting link and article on dry eye. Those of us with contacs who don't want to give them up even at this stage  need that information. 

Thanks,  Guys. I do hope that along with what remains of my dignity I still have some  manners. :)  No matter what I am privately thinking. I wish I had a movie of me struggling to "help" each person who wanted to just take the bags  and do it, I kept saying oh but you must not do it yourself, as we both did a pas de deux  with each bag.  Made a right fool of self, but hey, that's what it's all about, right?  In an elevator last year in the Louvre a young Japanese couple and I did such an "After you, Alphonse," that the doors of the elevator closed and we descended, much to the disgust of those behind us still trapped within.  hahahaha

James Cordon (the Carpool Karaoke Guy) said in one of those flight magazines that yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not come, be the best You you can be today. That's all you can do. I like that philosophy.

  But I wonder if he's right.

 Meanwhile Margaret Drabble continues a veritable drumbeat of controversial statements about old age, which I think we can, if you'd like to comment on THEM, consider here, too. I'll start with them once we really get under way.

Jonathan,  Do we, in fact, need the book?

Yes, we do.  I read the first chapter this morning and found:

1. This is a serious book, meant to be taken seriously.
2. It's full of what anthropology is and isn't.
3. The first chapter outlines the basis for the entire book from a scholarly perspective. I am surprised at what anthropology really is and is not, were you?
4. We should start with the 2nd chapter, the real stories, but since she didn't, then why should we? Let's attempt to mush thru the scholarly jargon and ferret out the nuggets.

Here are some "stock" questions ON Number our Days from the publisher which we can be pondering while we read chapter 1 for Wednesday's start. I'm not putting them in the heading, here is good:


 Discussion Questions for Number Our Days by Barbara Myerhoff:

1.   a. Who is this a study of?  b. What makes it a unique sample?





2.   How  would you characterize the elders in this study?  Are they high-functioning?  Well-off?





3.   What does the Center fulfill for the men and women on the Boardwalk?





4.   What made for successful aging among the elders?





5.   How does the Jewish faith affect the men and women's approach to aging?  How do they envision old age?





6.   What do you think the psalm "So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom" mean to you?





7.   What do you think of these elders?  Do they impress you, annoy you?  Do they remind you of relatives?


I'm going to add some non stock questions  I think are important, too, in fact they are what jumped out at me, what jumped out at YOU?



1. What seems to be the most important thing to the people she is writing about? What do you think the most important thing to YOU would be?

2. What function does the "Center" have for the community of elders that use it?

These two questions, in my mind, are not related, but they may be, in yours.


There's our opening salvo, hope to see you all on  Wednesday the 15th when we discuss chapter 1.

:)


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 12, 2017, 11:14:22 PM
Ginny
Quote
4. We should start with the 2nd chapter, the real stories, but since she didn't, then why should we? Let's attempt to mush thru the scholarly jargon and ferret out the nuggets.

Thank you for this post.  I thought it was just me feeling a bit overwhelmed with as you put it, "scholarly jargon."   As I was mushing through, I thought, oh my heavens what have I gotten myself into here, is this book over my pay grade?  I will muddle through chapter 1 and check back on Wed. for the beginning of the discussion to see what the rest of you could deduce from it ,and what nuggets you could ferret out ,as Ginny mentions. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 13, 2017, 08:31:59 AM
I personally think it's in self defense. She has to defend doing an anthropological study, not of the some exotic unknown culture, say,  pygmies in New Guinea, but one Jewish community in the US in the 70's  which, let's face it, you didn't  have to travel to Borneo to see, and which not only are many of her readers quite familiar with,  she herself has roots in. I myself have had recurrent dreams of Tennannah Lake House and the entire Borscht Belt thing  which I can't wait to talk about.

 I think her idea of subject matter is brilliant, I didn't need one word of rationale. I would rather have read this chapter at the end, if I still needed convincing of that. We'll see what the others think if they get far enough to talk about it. :)  I hope they can, I think it's worth it.

I am hoping once she has established her own credentials and the study parameters, sufficiently in her own mind,  we can get on with what really resonates: their stories and what we can learn from them. I think she has made some tremendously important points here for any culture and any time and I think that's maybe what anthropology  is about, I don't know. I hope to find out.

Everyone is welcome!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: CallieinOK on June 13, 2017, 10:40:54 AM
Marking a spot.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 13, 2017, 11:11:30 AM
Weill HEY there, Callie! Am I glad to see you!  Welcome aboard!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: CallieinOK on June 13, 2017, 12:34:10 PM
Thanks, Ginny.  I haven't participated in a Book Discussion for quite a while. 

Just finishing up a major retiling floor project (Messy!!!!!) - plus Granddaughter who moved to New York City last Fall is home for 3 weeks.  Probably be hit and miss with comments but I am interested. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 13, 2017, 12:41:58 PM
Well at least your floors are now retiled and I am sure, spotless, no seams in linoleum for you (I'm afraid to even begin tackling ours), and there's nothing like a grandchild!  We will be interested in your comments, I know they will hit the spot when you do make them. :)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 13, 2017, 05:57:39 PM
It's a mekhaye!!! Ginny is going to make an adventure out of this book. Being stuck on an elevator isn't so bad if you're having fun. Getting us past the preface and on to the borscht belt was a great move.

'Mekhaye': Pleasure, a real joy. Keep it throaty.

Thanks for the questions, Ginny. Already things are coming into focus.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 14, 2017, 10:32:56 AM
:) Jonathan, you always have such a way with words.

It's tomorrow, too. I am not the least afraid with this group so far assembled, and those I know are coming, to tackle anything. But this first chapter raised a lot of questions in my mind, and those "stock" questions, did, too. I think this is going to be a very worthwhile endeavor, with all of you  present.



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 14, 2017, 01:50:39 PM
I have not finished reading chapter one just yet, but from what I have read in the first ten pages it is packed with so much to ascertain about this elderly center in New York and all the residents.  I think I am going to have just a bit of an age gap here when discussing this book because already Ginny's comment,  " I myself have had recurrent dreams of Tennannah Lake House and the entire Borscht Belt thing  which I can't wait to talk about."  has me scratching my head, and yet Jonathan knows exactly what she is talking about.  I will confess to being raised in a very small, rural town in Michigan, not having much access to libraries, newspapers, or other forms of learning information about what was going on in the world as far as culture, politics, etc.  I came to love reading at high school age once we began reading in our English Lit class, and I had access to the school library.  History was NOT my strong subject throughout my school years, which left me void in knowledge of wars, places and cultures, especially Jewish communities.  So all of this in chapter one is  completely new for me.  In saying this, I look forward to learning from our anthropologist Meyerhoff, and ask you all be a bit patient with me.  I am like a duckling taking to water among seasoned ducks with this story. 

In all honesty I had to look up the word "anthropology" to see what it meant before delving into chapter one.

an·thro·pol·o·gy  (ăn′thrə-pŏl′ə-jē)
n.
1. The scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of humans.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 14, 2017, 02:18:16 PM
I know well the area where the Jewish Community in Santa Monica is located.  Most likely the center is gone. When I was there, the park and surroundings were covered over with the homeless folks.  I hope the people we are reading about were able to find a new place to live.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 14, 2017, 04:14:51 PM
Yes, Annie, these people were able to find a new place to live. Barbara Myerhoff gave them the chance. In her book. Now they will live forever.

7.   What do you think of these elders?  Do they impress you, annoy you?  Do they remind you of relatives?

 I love that. It may well be that some reader should find her or his roots. It's happening all the time.

Bellamarie, you're going to enjoy this book. I'm looking forward to your insights. Thanks for the definition of anthropology. I admire the audacity of the author. That the scientific mind should hope to make something of these unique, imaginative people seems like a fantastic challenge.

It's nice to have you show up, Callie. Keep coming back. With or without the book, there will be lots to talk about. I'm looking forward to hearing what Margaret Drabble has to say about life's last momentous stage.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 14, 2017, 07:33:42 PM
Ooops.... why on earth did I mistype and say New York.  This story is taking place in Venice California.  Sorry, I just finished a good book that was taking place in New York and got myself turned around.  I have been taking care of my two little grandkids the past six days and am pooped out, so maybe I can blame it on that.   ::)

Jonathan, I plan to stick around, but yes, this first chapter is a bit much.  It is so packed full of info I am using a highlighter to underline points I want to discuss.  I'm not too concerned it will ruin my book since it is a used paperback anyway. 

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 14, 2017, 09:36:50 PM
Bellamarie, I agree the first chapter is formidable.  Myerhoff starts off being so busy being an anthropologist, explaining what she's doing and why her fellow anthropologists should take her seriously, that you can drown in it before you notice that there's an incredible human story here, and that Myerhoff herself is taking a journey too, as Skloot did when she got involved with Henrietta Lacks' story, though not so intense.  Starting with chapter two, we get into the much more accessible meat of the story.

Like you, though, I found a lot of things to think about in chapter one.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 15, 2017, 08:47:08 AM
Well  a bright good mornming to you all as we meet htere to discuss anything and everything pertaining to the subject of Number Our Days. There are "stock" questions in the heading, which, on retrospect, are quite helpful with Chapter 1, and I can see why she wrote it but I still think it would have been better as a foreword.  Since it is not, it's clear she intends this subject to be taken seriously, so we'll give her that, and proceed to talk about what we also enjoy of the subjects raised in the book.

I think when people read, even when they read for information, they make connections to things. What I felt as a connection might not be what you did, that's the joy of a book club discussion, we can try to talk to each other and appreciate all elements.

Here I am doing the same thing she did. hahaha

So let's begin.

What struck YOU the most in the opening chapter? Why?
That's my question du jour but you answer any question you want or make up your own.

The floor is now open for all of your random thoughts.
Title: Here's to you, Tennnannah Lake House
Post by: ginny on June 15, 2017, 09:24:50 AM
I'm going to start with an unlikely thing: the benches. That's what stood out to me, the benches.

These elders (what shall we call them?) These folks liked to meet daily on benches and sit and talk.

The men talk about one type of subject, philosophy, etc., the women, another, children, etc...wasn't that interesting?

I found myself wishing I could hear the men...I wonder why?

Which group would you have wanted to listen to?

________________________________

But these benches, this gathering and grouping by gender,  hit me with a long ago memory.

In the US from the 1920's to the 70's if you said the words "Catskills"  and "Borscht Belt"  to any person in the NorthEast of this great country,  they immediately knew what you were talking about.

Here's Wikiwackia on it:


Borscht Belt hotels, bungalow colonies, summer camps, and קאָך-אַליינס kokh-aleyns (a Yiddish name for self-catered boarding houses, literally, "cook-alones") were frequented by families of middle and working class Jewish New Yorkers, mostly Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants. Antisemitism, particularly in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, meant that they were often denied accommodation elsewhere.

Some of the Catskill hotels were converted from farms that immigrant Jews had started in the early 1900's. As the area grew, it began to cater specifically to Jews, providing kosher food, synagogues, and other features of Jewish communities, including entertainment. The area became known as "The Jewish Alps", and the Sullivan County portion as "Solomon County".

From the 1920s through the 1970s, nearly all notable Jewish entertainers would hone their skills at resorts in the Sullivan County area. Fallsburg became the catalyst for American stand-up comedy.[4] Comedy legends Mel Blanc, Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Danny Kaye and Red Buttons made an early living at the night clubs here, as would Hollywood stars Mel Brooks, Billy Crystal, Rodney Dangerfield, Don Rickles, and Joan Rivers. Famed prize fighters like Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, and Muhammad Ali  trained here. Millions of tourists, especially New Yorkers, came to swim in the lakes and oversized hotel pools, to ski or ice-skate or take lessons in golf, tennis, and dancing. No fewer than 538 hotels sprang up in this area of Eastern New York



____________________

These mammoth resorts are hard to imagine now. The big ones like Grossingers (that second G is pronounced, like "Gross in GRRRs") and the Concord saw the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher (who got married there) and I remember seeing Slammin' Sammy Snead play golf there. Grossingers, who thought it would ever die? The Concord, Neveles. Gigantic places. Books have been written on their declines.

But the benches?

In the summer of 1961 I, a blond  blue eyed Protestant, before starting college,  worked the summer at Tennannah Lake House, (http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/TennannahLakeHouseRoscoeNYbest.jpg)a Kosher Jewish Resort   not far from Grossingers and the Concord. One of the "Paleys," (not the Babe Paley of Truman Capote, not the famous CBS Paley, one of the lesser brothers or relatives or something), ran it. It  kept Kosher like many of them did but was a lot smaller and less opulent, appealing  to perhaps a comfortable middle class, tho why I say middle class I have no idea. The staff (including members of the band who played for Johnny Carson's show in their off time making money  here) lived in airless top floor rooms which were so small they didn't even have  a closet but I never will forget the room rate on the door: $125 per night in the main lodge. For no closet. That was NOT Middle Class in 1961, particularly if you'd stay a month.

And believe it or not, that is NOT Tennanah Lake House in the photo, it's a smaller place they took down to build the real one, which sat back from the lake,  long gone in photos and memory except for those of us who stayed there. I always thought one day I'll come back here, but not as a staff member, I'll come back here and stay as a guest, but it fell almost immediately in the great 60's decline, to an Ashram and I believe it burned down. I won't be staying there, the mah jongg tiles will be silent forever.

The families would meet, year after year, at the great lodge,  and enjoy summer fun, concerts, swimming in the huge lake, the big  pool, billiards, anything and everything you can think of, these resorts offered. There were  big name comedians in the night club, and there was this  sitting, by the old folks,  on the porch on benches catching up with the other families who came every year and appeared to stay for months. Sitting and commenting on anything and everything. Something for every age to do in the Catskills in the summer.

 I picked up a lot of Yiddish here.  I also failed at every single job given me to do. Finally they gave me the job of "Receptionist," because I had such a "pretty voice, like singing," (they should hear me now).... which involved using one of those push  telephone  console things people make jokes about now, with all the wires and trunk tubes, you talk about difficult. ....that lasted until somebody called about fall accommodations and inquired "Are you open after the Holidays?"

"What holiday? " I asked.  Silence (about the same silence that occurred when I ordered a glass of milk in the dining room once, even tho we ate a long way back from the paying guests)...and then..."Is this Tennannah Lake House?" ... Me: "Yes." "Can I speak to somebody who knows what they are doing?"

hahahaa I miss that? I miss that entire way of talking and thinking.

I can hear the mah jongg tiles now that the Chinese kitchen staff would gather to play after hours in the dark. We were warned this was serious business and not to disturb or interrupt them in any way...just a wonder to be seen wherever you turned your eyes. It was like a United Nations, the wait staff came from Miami, the Maitre d' was Italian and brought up all his kinsmen to be waiters and lifeguards.

And like so many things of the past, particularly in this  area, that's all gone. That is the great resorts, how heartbreaking it is to see the ruin of Grossingers, whoever thought IT would die?  People discovered Florida, cars and planes took people to more exotic vacations, and the huge culture which was, is no longer.

 There's a DVD called Things That Aren't There Any More, of the area I actually grew up in, in PA,  and they aren't. The great amusement park Willow Grove Park, gone, the famous Ball Park. Gone.

But people still gather on benches, don't they? And the thing that I've been wondering, is.....I wonder how much of this is particularly Jewish,  how much of this is a particular Ashkenazi Jewish Culture, and how much of this is human nature?

These people don't seem exotic to me. Do they to you?

 They seem normal, they seem very strong (or are they?) Is it strong to want to live by yourself? Or is it something else?

I love this book and I hope we can talk from all our various backgrounds and understandings to see what we think.

But what do YOU think? What struck you?



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 15, 2017, 09:35:28 AM
Hmmmm.... what struck me the most in the opening chapter?  I think so far since I have not finished the chapter, what I find sticking out is the humanistic story of the elderly.  I have a friend of the family who recently had to be placed in a senior living center at the age of 80 yrs old.  She was very sad at first because she is very independent, used to taking care of her own home, driving, shopping, going out with her girlfriends and even driving herself up to her summer home on the lake.  She began having bouts of dementia and the family became concerned, so they decided it was the best thing for her.  She has now been in the center living there for almost a year and is very happy, gotten to know the other elderly men and women and is participating in all the activities.  The family is having a birthday party for her on the 21st of this month and it will be my first time visiting her at the center.  Reading this first chapter has shown me a new perspective on how the elderly can become their own community, can look forward to the familiar surroundings, the same schedules and the companionship of each other.  I found it interesting how Meyerhoff shows us the differences of the gathering of the men and women and their subjects they tend to discuss. 

pg. 4  Bench behavior is highly stylized.  The half-dozen or so benches immediately to the north or south of the Center are the territory of the members, segregated by sex and conversation topic.  The men's benches are devoted to abstract, ideological concerns__philosophical debate, politics, religion, and economics.  The women's benches are given more to talk about immediate, personal matters__children, food, health, neighbors, love affairs, scandals, and "managing."  Men and women talk about Israel and its welfare, about being a Jew and about Center politics.  On the benches, reputations are made and broken, controversies explored, leaders selected, factions formed and dissolved.  Here is the outdoor dimensions of Center life, like a village plaza, a focus of protracted, intense sociability.

Already this book is having an affect on me, the reality of life coming to a time I may be faced with these same situations.  My hubby and I are still healthy and capable of keeping up our three bedroom, two story home with a beautiful backyard I have turned into a sanctuary. We sit and just enjoy watching the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and various other animals visit each day.  We love watching the flowers bloom as the seasons change especially now that all the Spring flowers are bursting with color and the summer flowers are pushing up to take over as the Spring flowers will be done soon.  Our grown kids have asked us many times if we think of moving to a condo, and I can't even imagine why we would want to leave our beautiful home and yard.  Oh dear, I'm getting flutters just typing this.  One word  I will find myself using often in this discussion is,  "reality."

 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 15, 2017, 09:39:34 AM
Ginny, you and I were posting at the very same time and it seems good minds think alike.  I too as you can see found the benches to be what stuck out to me in the first chapter.   ;)

I absolutely love your story about Tennannah Lake House!  And this....  But people still gather on benches, don't they? And the thing that I've been wondering, is.....I wonder how much of this is particularly Jewish,  how much of this is a particular Ashkenazi Jewish Culture, and how much of this is human nature?

Yes, indeed we do still gather on benches, I crack up every time we go shopping at our mall and my hubby chooses to sit out a few stores and sits on the couches with other men waiting for their wives to be done.  I always laugh and say to him, "Okay what were you talking to those strangers about now?"  He laughs and answers,  "Oh about our time in the service or even sometimes politics."

For the record.....  I will join the men's bench, any day on politics, economy and religion!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 15, 2017, 10:25:36 AM
Well, I named the area Santa Monica but it turns out to be Venice.  We used to go there on the weekend just to watch the busy crowds but especially to watch an lady of about 70yrs old show her incredible talents on her skate board.  I will see if I can find the article about her that was in the LA Times. She was just fun to watch. There were many little tent shops along the boardwalk.  It was like going to an arts and craft show. And the benches were part the picture. Also many old men playing chess.  Just like they do in Central Park in NYC in the summer.
I thought the Ashkanazi was an Indian tribe out west. What is the name of that?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 15, 2017, 12:37:43 PM
Anasazi?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 15, 2017, 03:33:13 PM
Wow! What an experience, Ginny. To have been there in the Catskills, at the cradle of a good chunk of the 20th century American cultural renaissance. My own fascination with Yiddish was sparked in a second-hand clothing store, on North Main, during the Thirties Depression, when I was eight or nine and needed a jacket. To hear my Dad, with his German, and the proprietor with his Yiddish, haggle over the price, is something I've never forgotten. And I was so proud of my good-quality leather jacket. On another occasion  Dad got a very good quality overcoat in the same way. And he wasn't even terribly surprised to find several hundred dollars in an inside pocket. He always laughingly maintained it must have been intended as a mitzva (good deed) by the previous owner.

What struck you?

I can't tear myself away from page one, and the page facing it, with its solemn words about life and death. Life is a 'breath', a 'fleeting shadow'. Get yourselves 'a heart of wisdom'. Last rites. I can hear 'I am the resurrection and the life', 'Shall we gather at the river.' We're informed  that we'll be hearing the words again in Chapter 5. Is that a spoiler?

But first, on page one, we hear a few plaintive words from Basha in the midst of life: 

'Everty morning I wake up in pain. I wiggle my toes. Good. They still obey. I open my eyes. Good. I can see. Everything hurts but I get dressed. I walk down to the ocean. Good. It's still there. Now my day can start. About tomorrow I never know. After all, I'm eighty-nine. I can't live forever.'

Basha deserves a medal, and the author a literary award for such a remarkable beginning.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 16, 2017, 07:42:01 AM
What great responses, thank you all.

I am so glad you enjoyed that little segue, Bellamarie and Jonathan. :) They used to say, "Is this heaven? No, it's Grossingers." 1200 acres, 35 buildings, it doesn't look like heaven now, does it?

(https://dudo6el28sqqp.cloudfront.net/gothamistgallery/2016/3/16/acc489232-mobile.jpeg)

Nothing gold can stay. 

Bellamarie, and Jonathan, those were beautiful posts.  I especially appreciate both of you quoting from the book.  I don't type well enough to do that often and it's amazing to me as I read it yesterday how beautifully she writes. I agree, Jonathan, she should have won an award, and did for the film and was nominated I think for one for the book.

I HOPE in the book she is going to explain some things about this particular culture, so we can learn by comparison to our own lives, those of us not  Jewish,  as to how important a part the  Ashkenazi Jewish Culture plays.

It seems to me that we might try, lacking any explanation, to notice in which ways our own lives and those of those we know and have known, differ in the aging process and Bellamarie has started out already with her friend: She has now been in the center living there for almost a year and is very happy, gotten to know the other elderly men and women and is participating in all the activities.  I hope you'll give us an update after you see her next week for her birthday.

Apparently social contacts are very important in not only enriching our lives but actually in keeping people alive, don't you keep reading about studies which show that? But conversely, more people than ever want to stay home,  and not leave their homes and go to a center or group living, and society is moving to meet this need but at a cost. IS it the best way?

In YOUR opinion, how important IS social contact? Can we see any difference, can we learn from the examples given here and our own experience, what ARE the differences between the "Center" here and the benches and our own lives?

These questions in the heading also speak to this issue:

3.   What does the Center fulfill for the men and women on the Boardwalk?

4.   What made for successful aging among the elders?


5.   How does the Jewish faith affect the men and women's approach to aging?  How do they envision old age?


And I, lacking anybody telling me flat out (I hope Myerhoff will, but if she doesn't I hope one of you will know) what the difference is, and how that shared faith or cultural background is different. I really would like to learn. I would like to gain in this wisdom the Psalms speak of because I know with the rich and varied backgrounds here YOU do know and I'd like to learn.


The quote that Bellamarie put there: They talk about being Jewish, they talk about Israel.

OK those two right there subjects are not on my list for bench sitting, that's one major difference right there,  and I don't think I have ever sat on a bench and talked about being Protestant.  So there IS a difference. How important IS that difference and what IS it, actually? Is this something we can find out?

What's the KEY to successful aging, do you think? We're all old enough to have seen many examples, I just read about the woman who ran a marathon at 100, having taken it up at 90.

At 90?

Tough questions.  Nobody can deny that's successful at 90 or 100, why her and not us?

What's the KEY? What's the key for these folks? How are they different from us, we're all going to the same end, right?

Jonathan, that's a wonderful point about the prayer from Psalms on the facing page,

 Man is like a breath,
His days are as a fleeting shadow....

So teach us to number our days
That we may get us a heart of wisdom...

What does that mean? How can we do that? How does that relate to what is happening in the opening chapters and how is it different?

I really want to learn and I hope that you all will help us in this journey of understanding...

more...

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 16, 2017, 07:54:46 AM
Ann, that's a great point about the men playing chess in Central Park, it's not a regional thing, it's a human thing. And Bellamarie mentioned the men in the malls and stores, I've seen that, too, conversing... And I could not think of the Indian tribe but Pat has it. Somewhere tho there was something about a gene found in one Native American group which seemed to originate in the Ashkenazi, something about Columbus.

Jonathan, what  a lovely memory of your father, it's amazing and kind of frightening how these things stay with us. Frightening because I don't know what my poor children will remember. hahahaa

I've lately gotten kind of stooped, too much hunching over this computer and it seems to aggrieve my sons no end. I told one the other day, after being exhorted to stand up straight,  remember that old saw, what animal walks first on 4 legs, then two, then three? It's MAN of course, the 3 is the cane or walking stick.

But Douglas MacArthur, I just read yesterday, was "ramrod straight" at 70. And Queen Elizabeth is straight at 90.  Is it too late to develop whatever it takes to be physically fit?

 70 is now  supposed to be the new 40. We're not to give in to the vicissitudes of old age. We're supposed to be in the gym, tightening up glutes and abs  and cores and honing selves physically. These folks don't seem to be part of that thinking (tho this WAS written in the '70's, was anybody, then? Jack LaLanne, maybe )  And they also seem to be taking buses at 89 and wrestling groceries.

If you had to rate what was the most desirable thing you wanted to do in old age, or let's say between this minute and the end of YOUR days, no matter if you live to be 1000, what would it be? If YOU could only do 3 things, which one would be the most important?

Oh and let's not forget Margaret Drabble. In her new book on aging, The Dark Flood Rises, she through fictional characters makes some observations. Here's one: "I've got selfish in my old age. I live as a like."

She's big on this "selfishness" thing. She says in another place, "We live for our appetites. Or that's one way of looking at ageing. Old people are very selfish, very greedy."

Drabble is a writer of fiction, not an anthropologist. I'm including her here because she is not writing about  a particular culture or sample  in an authoritative way,  but about all of US. Do you agree with her?


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 16, 2017, 10:07:00 AM
Ginny,  To answer your question do I agree with Drabble's quotes on being selfish as we age, I have to give a resounding answer of NO!  I do not agree with her,  unless I have not yet got to the to point of "old age." I wake up each day thinking of my kids and grandkids, I am here for their every need, putting myself last on the chain of importance.  I suppose many would tell me I should not be this way, that myself should come first, but I have always put others before me.  In all fairness, I suppose when I am able to serve others, it is my way of gaining pleasure for myself, because it always makes me feel good to be there for them.
I've read a couple of Drabble's books and while I think she is an excellent writer, I find her books/thinking a bit quirky for lack of trying to use a more descriptive word.

You posed a lot of questions, and a lot of food for thought in your posts, and I'm not sure I can tackle them all, but what I do hope to help you with is this..
Quote
what the difference is, and how that shared faith or cultural background is different. I really would like to learn. I would like to gain in this wisdom the Psalms speak of because I know with the rich and varied backgrounds here YOU do know and I'd like to learn.

(Our bench meetings.....Every Tuesday morning Sept-May our church has a Bible Study group who meets for one and a half hours.  It consists of 60 yr olds and over.  Not that younger people are not welcome, but it seems so far we had only one younger lady attend and she drifted away.  I am thinking possibly due to work and scheduling is the reason or lack of wanting to learn more about their faith. We had it on Wed evenings for years and had more younger ones attend, but not enough to feel it hurt to change  the day and time.  Anyway,  when I read how these Jewish seniors are worried that their stories, past, and lives will be forgotten when they die off and how important it is for them to share their faith and family stories I connected with them immediately.  I am American/Italian/Indian and Irish and a Catholic.  I sat talking with my granddaughters last week sharing some stories with them and once they left I thought about how important was it for me to share what I talked about with them.  I wondered if they will even remember the things I shared with them years from now, and in wondering about these things it made me a little melancholy, because like the elderly Jews in this story, I too felt the sense of realizing once I am gone it will end.  My children, like the children in this story, are the next generation, and they do not feel the same as my generation or the generations before me, they have not lived what we have lived to understand the importance of keeping the past alive, or at least remembered.  I am extremely proud of the fact my three adult children and their spouses care about our faith, about the traditions that have been carried down from centuries. I am honored they are giving to my grandchildren the faith they were given, and that my husband and I were given, and they seem to realize that with God all things are possible, (Philippians 4:13 my favorite verse) and in the darkest moments to not give up and lose faith, but instead to trust in their faith and turn to God in prayer.  These Jews have these common threads, as do other ethnics and religious groups.  They have seen that in their darkest days, when war was at their door taking their loved ones that the only thing they had that no one could take from them was their faith.

pg.  36  Everyone wanted to leave a personal statement, wanted to be identified with an enduring record, some indication of what had happened to them, what they believed, that they had been here.

Generally a common theme emerged and clustered loosely around a set of broad topics:  memories of the Old World, the meaning of Being a Jew, being old, and life in America today.

pg.  37  I loved these classes and the style of the exchanges and stories.  Shmuel was right to call them grandmother's tales. for they were the rambling, bubbling, unfocused, running comments that a bobbe might tell her grandchildren without putting down her dough or her sewing.  Too busy to stop and shape a tale with grace and art, but too alive to imagination and verbal expression to be silent, so she might weave a kitchen tale that despite its crude surface, came from and went to a deep place.  This was "Domestic Religion,"  as Rachel once called it, and its roots were in the heart and bond and genes.


As much as Meyerhoff shows us how these Jews were desperate to hang on to their history past, present and future along with their faith it is really no different than we are today.  This book takes place in the 70's and talks of past history, but could just as well be written today.  Aren't we fighting a war today trying to hold on to our family & faith as well?  Every day we see where Christianity and families are being suppressed and killed for who they are, and what they believe in.  Again I will say.....it is our reality.  I do find myself talking on benches, or rather booths at restaurants, with family and friends about our faith and how we must protect it and preserve it.  I do chat with my friends and family on Facebook, about how important it is to not loose sight of the past, and to bring it to our next generations.  I realize the next generation may choose to ignore or reject it, but like these Jews in the center, I too want and need to at least attempt to keep it alive.

Jonathan,  All I can say to your post is.....  WOW!  You always find the most important and intricate things in our books.  Nothing gets by you. 

The picture of the ruins of Grossingers is so very very sad.  How could anyone allow it to become this?  It just shows again the reality of what happens when people stop caring.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 16, 2017, 03:12:46 PM
"I've got selfish in my old age. I live as a like."

That brings back such a vivid memory of my mother in the evening of her life. She told me as I sat at her bedside: 'I've become selfish. I think only of myself.' All of us, children and grandchildren, had heard her say many times, 'I pray for each one of you before I fall asleep.'

I'll be looking for the Margaret Drabble book. What a far-ranging discussion this could turn out to be. As one of us has said. 'It's a lovely book.'

It's significant that the author found words of wisdom in the Psalms with which to set the tone or mood of her book. Look for it here among these seniors, she seems to be suggesting. Not long ago I was looking through a Harold Bloom book: Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? The table of contents tells the reader where to look: Job, Plato, Homer, Shakespeare, Bacon, Goethe, Emerson, Freud and Proust. And others.

Why not let Basha, Faegl, and Gita have their say about getting on with life. I think I'll try Basha's way of beginning each day. I must get an ocean into my life. It's so meaningful for her.  The author is certainly being playful when she sees boats, birds, and leaves in her characters. Which would you like to be?

'The men are not so easy to categorize.' Haha.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 16, 2017, 04:05:10 PM
Wow, so many important issues right at the start, going off in all directions, it’s hard to know where to begin.  I’ll start with  the thing that struck me first, brought up in the  foreword, and mentioned less directly by Myerhoff: the three lives of an anthropologist, and the inevitable paradox of the profession.

The three lives: An anthropologist starts off being the product of his own culture and upbringing.  When he studies another culture, he has to understand it by getting into the mindset of the people, sort of becoming a part of this new culture, and the more thoroughly he does this, the better he understands them.

This changes him; he’s no longer the same person; he’s absorbed new attitudes and ideals, and even if he doesn’t believe them he’s changed.

Then he goes back to his original place.  It no longer seems the same to him, because he is different and sees it through new eyes.  So now he’s a third person, not quite back to where he started.

The Paradox:  the better a job he does of sinking into the new culture, the more he understands, but if he assimilates too perfectly, he loses his objectivity, and can’t see the culture clearly.  So he can’t ever do a perfect job.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 16, 2017, 04:23:42 PM
Why does that stuff I just said matter for this book?  Myerhoff has picked a particularly difficult job, because the culture she picked is part of her past.  It's what she has drifted away from, or never completely learned, but it's there.  So her study is also going to be a spiritual journey of rediscovery, finding out who she herself really is.

And we are privileged to watch.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 16, 2017, 04:27:00 PM
Ginny, you really cracked me up with your stories of your summer job at Tennennah Lake House.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 16, 2017, 04:46:17 PM
Oh lordy got my Wednesday's mixed up and had on my calendar this was starting next week - will get into this over the weekend and be back - sorry... but at least y'all have just started...
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 16, 2017, 05:13:20 PM
Without reading I laughed at the first sentence in the heading since I finally realized what happens after, probably for most, age 80 - You are entering a new city as if you moved miles away and were starting over.

Had an old client contact me to sell her home and enjoyed again the fun of the job so, decided that with the many condos in my neighborhood to specialize on the information that would help agents and the public - Trying to sort out what to do and how to go about it, talked to a Real Estate coach who suggested I should get back to basics, that gathering information was going down a rabbit hole. She made a plan with me to contact 3 old clients, friends, those who serve me on a regular basis where i shop etc. till I had 50 emails and then I could start an email campaign that involved sending information about gussying up a house and uplifting stories and remembering their birthdays by looking up what happened in history on that day and tying the positive attributes of the historical happening to the life and character of the one whose birthday I was remembering - sounded good

Execution: I was to do 3 a day - get 3 email addresses a day
First day - first 3 - all dead
second 3 - all in a nursing home
third 3 - needing to move near family or, into a smaller home which would only be available in other neighborhoods - I'm not up to physically handling the sale of a single family resident so all I could do is refer them to an agent I know and trust.

That was when it hit me - I did not want to be a referral base for others - sure I would receive a percentage but it is not about just making money - I want something that would challenge me - something I had not done

I also looked and realized that to go further with this 3 a day - all the places I shopped for year are either gone, or sold to a new owner or at minimum have new clerks - the only consistent is the place where i have my vehicle repaired - even this idea of specializing in Condos could not have happened as recently as 15 years ago because we did not have in the area as many multi-family living spaces.

That is just my experience and I bet it is similar for most of us that are aging - no wonder they say it is not for sissies - like it or not what happens as we age is we are in new surroundings and what we knew has been reduced to a bare minimum - it is reminiscent of being young, with a young family and being transferred or even buying a home in another neighborhood except, as we age even those who in the past were part of community organizations that we belonged are either dead or in nursing homes or have moved out of town to be near their children -

I also see that those who choose some sort of assistant living is like being a collage student living in the dorm - was this what we imagined for ourselves?

No matter it can be a challenge and in the words of Calvin and Hobbs - "Change is invigorating! If we don't accept new challenges, you become complacent and lazy!  Your life atrophies!"

P.S. realized for what I need to do, like moving to a new town, I would research the heck out of the area in order to learn about each area and so for me it is not going down a rabbit hole with no immediate dollar return - the information is valuable to anyone specializing or not, in the condo, townhouse, duplex community - I just need to figure out if I can make it pay and if not it has to be done if I want to go forward.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 16, 2017, 05:25:42 PM
Old people are very selfish, very greedy..

I think, there is probably a biological perspective to this, our behaviors are different when we are in a state of high energy vs. in a state of low energy. For instance, changing habit needs extra energy - just like what physics teaches us, to change the direction of a moving car, you need to exert extra force to make that change. So when people in a low state of energy, they tend to keep the same routine, same habit, because that consumes a low level of energy.

Love also needs energy. When we are tired, we are more likely becoming crankier and less a loving person. If you observe our computer, as the battery level goes down to some level, it will start to dim your display, slow down your computing, etc, it is calculating how much energy it has and tries to conserve as much as it can. We also have an energy calculator inside us. When our battery level goes down to certain degree, we adjust our behaviors to conserve our energy. Survival is the first priority, other things come in second, biology makes the call.

So it is not the age per se, it is the state of energy a person in.

I think?

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 16, 2017, 05:29:39 PM
rah rah I like that hangfan - it sure fits and know I have to try harder some days not to be cranky and want many more upbeat pictures and quotes to get through the day...
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 16, 2017, 06:03:56 PM
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/NumberourDayscover.jpg)


They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it on subjects in the USA, and let them speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us June 15! 

Questions to Ponder on  Chapter 1

Chapter 1 is a scholarly defense of the subject matter....hard to read... if you don't like these questions, add your own:


1.   a. Who is this a study of?  b. What makes it a unique sample?

2.   How  would you characterize the elders in this study?  Are they high-functioning?  Well-off?

3.   What does the Center fulfill for the men and women on the Boardwalk?

4.   What made for successful aging among the elders?

5.   How does the Jewish faith affect the men and women's approach to aging?  How do they envision old age?

6.   What do you think the psalm "So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom" mean to you?

7.   What do you think of these elders?  Do they impress you, annoy you?  Do they remind you of relatives?


I'm going to add some non stock questions  I think are important, too, in fact they are what jumped out at me, what jumped out at YOU?

1. What seems to be the most important thing to the people she is writing about? What do you think the most important thing to YOU would be?

2. What function does the "Center" have for the community of elders that use it?

These two questions, in my mind, are not related, but they may be, in yours.






"upbeat pictures and quotes"

The peak time of our vital force is when we are 6 years old (for girls) and 7 years (for boys), the time when we change to our permanent teeth. So to think about as we are that age again, what we look like, what state of mind we are in, what make us most happy at that time - that can help, too.

Meditation technique.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 16, 2017, 07:06:23 PM
"I've lately gotten kind of stooped, too much hunching over this computer..."

Ginny, in my workplace, we are moving to those height adjustable desks, so that we can change our position in front of our computer, alternating between standing and sitting.

If you like the idea, you can do similar things at home - for example, say you have an iPad and a desktop computer, you may use your iPad put on a higher surface area to stand and read, and then switch to your desktop computer when you need to sit and type. You get the idea, basically try to force yourself to change positions more often, and while you change between your iPad and desktop computer, you need to walk, which provides additional benefit?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 16, 2017, 10:37:24 PM
Ouch for some of us age 6 was not the best time of our lives - think I will focus on age 13 which was far far much better and the best in my late 20s

hmm I'm finding the Blake quote - "Labor well the Minute Particulars. And every Particulare is a Man," along with Myerhoff's perceptivenes, fidelity, and compassion rather boring - I really want someone who can view the live of seniors through the eye's of celebration, beauty, love, nature, sensuality, drinking, good fellowship, honor, and social life - the photo on the front of my book suggests that kind of perception but now after starting to read I am apprehensive.

Sure, when I get up in the morning I wonder if my knee will ratchet into the right socket but I want that to be a secondary thought that with a bit of tapping I will make the best of thing and get on to making the day beautiful - are the fawns still in the backyard - ah a good cup of black coffee after a tall glass of water while I take a look at the yard and ask what I can do to bring the guy next door, who just had surgery again for his cancer a bit of change from his pain, better take my walk before it gets too hot, don't forget my walking stick in case I fall or my phone that needs to be inside my shirt so that if I do fall it will not fly away from my reach, do my eye drops and drink the coffee and out the door - oh look at the red hawk perched on the school yard fence etc. etc. etc.

Do not want to think of a bunch of seniors bemoaning to each other their aging bodies and limited circumstance or their not-for-the-better changed neighborhood - it is what it is now, let's get on with celebrating fun, learning, caring and the beauty of it all rather than fighting for better conditions. No one is going to give anyone what they think is their right - the same with the idea anyone is gong to make power and justice common - all nice platitudes but my take is you do what you can because, you cannot change others. Even shaming them does not make a change in your favor - so all those placards and signs were to me a wasted effort that could have been used to make life for yourself and your other bench sitters a celebration of good fellowship.

I just do not understand this dreading of age - now dreading illness or disabilities I understand but even that - why dread it - if is not so, to dread is to put energy into something that may never be a problem and if it becomes a problem then you do what you can with what you have left. And what is this suggesting empathy - sheesh - I do not want empathy from the younger folks - I want to be engaged and have a place around the fire so to speak. 

Now if all these folks are in the nineties that is a different story but then - no - it isn't a different story - why waste the life you have bemoaning your circumstances this is silly - sorry I may be a stick in the mud to this book if it keeps on in this vain.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 16, 2017, 10:55:38 PM
I guess bottom line I think it is a waste of time to look for wisdom - look for ways to express life and in the doing you will experience all that will lead to wisdom - wisdom is defined as - the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; a body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period - you need to experience variety in life to know quality - a neighborhood that has deteriorated does not mean there is only negative experiences - it can be an opportunity - I think out of living is how we acquire wisdom - not this going on the trail looking for it.

I also think if we have expectations for our children or any other human to listen to our stories, we are measuring out life as dependent on the attention or appreciation of others - forget it - go do - if the past is what you want to pass along then write it down but get on with adding to your life - we are not frozen in the past even if they were great years - so you cannot walk as well or have the energy to walk a mile any longer or see the menu or even enjoy a movie and you cannot be too far from a bathroom but then there are fewer obligations so that you can do things with your time to satisfy your own liking not the requirement of others.

I am getting annoyed with this talk of survival - sheesh I think i better just be quiet - this is not going well as I read this stuff...
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 17, 2017, 08:12:13 AM
Barbara!! Is that really YOU? What a happy present to look in and see this morning. And hongfan, welcome back as well!! You can fill us in on how the Chinese see elders, what a wonderful boon this discussion is turning out to be.

I'm not seeing any kvetching, yet, Barbara.  Perhaps you're ahead of me in the book. .

But I have to say that I think to kvetch is part of the package here, it's part of the culture, the  way these folks on the bench may make sense of life, but I have NOT read Chapter 2, just from personal experience. Let's all proceed to Chapter 2 for Monday?  I'm talking out of my hat because I have NOT read Chapter 2, and I may change that.

 I always found it sort of refreshing, this kvetching, however. Shocking at first, but refreshing.  Reassuring, to everybody involved. It's part of what I thought was the Up Front Culture of the NE. Apparently it's the Up Front Culture of the  Ashkenazi.  If you address the Demon in the Room, whatever he is,  you conquer him, I think that's the thinking, but again, I'm talking way out of my hat.   I know I feel comfortable with it as a way of coping and turning things positive. Again perhaps we need to look at that question in the heading about how does being of the Askenazi Jewish Community influence their attitudes toward ageing?

Don't go anywhere, we need your perspectives on our Virtual Bench here, so we can have a real conversation.

You know when we started these book clubs, we did it TO provide what Myerhoff sees as important, a Virtual Center, a Virtual Bench.

The people on these benches are all of one ethnic derivation. One faith, one background, one area of Europe. Migration,  one commonality, they feel at home with each other. They understand each other, and the way they express themselves. It's part of the whole. WE may not be part of that, is that one way it IS a stand alone culture?

Don't we all feel more comfortable around people who are like us or who possibly grew up in the area we did or with whom we share a like history or catastrophe? Or even if we don't feel comfortable with them, or even like them,  we "understand" where they are coming from.

My DIL and grandson and I a couple of years ago went to NYC. He loved it, she loved it, but in one of the museums, I think it was the Natural History Museum, one of the guards was unexpectedly rude, and unhelpful. For no reason.  VERY. Nasty even. He was an old man, pure NYC as it used to be.  My DIL who lives in a small town in the south and who is a very considerate person with beautiful manners was shocked. She really was.

But I instantly understood  him, and where he was coming from and what he meant.  He was like a snatch of my own childhood, I have known many like him in Philadelphia. He was the norm where I grew up.

  We here on our Bench are not all going to have that feeling of recognition with these subjects, but I hope we can come to understand them and why they talk as they do, and I know you all are going to find something wonderful in this...and I'm so glad to see YOU, Barbara! Hope your eyes are  better? You're using drops?

 I just told her that's "old NYC," before they exhorted NYC to be friendly. I'm not sure she bought it but that IS  what it was: a slice of the 40's and it's dying out.

I loved all your posts and want to address them but let me talk about the topic du jour some of us have mentioned first:





Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 17, 2017, 08:46:11 AM
As we are leaving Chapter 1, I continue to be  very impressed with some of the concepts she brought up, and I think we need to refer back to them as we go. On page 6 of the paperback, for instance, she speaks of Howe's characterization of this generation  as the  "ragged kingdom of the spirit."

"They had strong early training in resourcefulness, and opportunities to develop sound survival strategies. Then, as now, they had been poor, politically impotent, and physically insecure. Then, as now, they turned to each other and their shared Yiddishkeit for sustenance."

That whole paragraph, outlining how difficult life was for the Jewish community in Eastern Europe and their will to survive, is beautifully written. We remark on the fall of Grossingers, but when I looked at that photo,  I also thought, some of that graffiti I am willing to bet is Anti-Semitic. That is what I thought. Even after all these years. And that's the saddest part of it all.

 We, most of us, certainly not I, have never experienced that, but it lives. Today.  You've got to be very strong and defiant to overcome it. We have not come personally, most of us, through the Holocaust. How did anybody ever survive that or get over it?  As  Shumell says, on page 26,

"You don't  understand. How could you expect to understand? You ask me all those things but you know nothing....How can you expect to understand?"

That's a good point in a very good book and I hope to understand SOMETHING when it's over because I AM trying.  Can we ever really understand, tho?

Where is it where she talks about what an amazing thing they did, in coming to this country,  skipping what normally takes three  generations to accomplish? I can't find it and I just read it!! OH I found it, it's on page 17: "these people achieved in one [generation] , as a result they were dubbed, 'The one generation proletariat.'"  But if you read on there, you can see the cost: the Old World Parents and the New World Children split. What a book this is.

 Page  7, "Their Yiddish world, built up over a thirty year period, is dying and complete extinction is imminent. Perhaps it will last another five or at the  most,  ten years.. Whenever a Center member leaves, everyone is acutely aware that there will be no replacements."

So that makes what happens at the end of Chapter 1 even more difficult for me to read because what they WANT, as I think bellamarie pointed out, is to be remembered. To make a mark.  There is no next generation to carry it on, they have only themselves as "witness."


And then there are the Three Invisible Protagonists, page 22, let's not forget them, either. The more I read her introduction the more impressed I am with it.

But at the end she says "Everyone wanted to leave a personal statement."

That's why it's really hard for me to realize that "Basha," is not "Basha," but someone else entirely. Would it have been so wrong to put her real name there?

And let her stand as she wanted to, to leave something of herself  behind  in a culture that fears "oblivion" more than pain or death?

Or is that "selfish" of me to want for her?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 17, 2017, 09:10:05 AM
Hongfan,  I love the analogy you used with the computer battery showing the dim screen alerting us to the battery running low.  Oh how I hate it when I get that alert and I am in the middle of something important, so is the same with life as I am aging.  I find I get myself all psyched up to go out gardening, I have planted a flat of annuals and look back to see I have a flat left to plant and the energy level is on low.  I have gotten so much more accepting of when my battery is running down and I simply tell myself and most importantly my hubby....Time to stop, tomorrow's another day. 

PatH.,  Reading your post about the three lives for some reason made me think of the Blessed Trinity.  I saw me accepting God first, then the Son and then the Holy Spirit as my journey in life which brings me through my spiritual journey.  I like this even though I know your post had nothing to do with my insight.

Barb St.Aubrey.,  Welcome!!!   I am so excited to see you made it here.  I get my days mixed up all the time since I retired and more so now that school is out and I don't have my same schedule for Bible Study on Tues., teaching CCD on Wed., volunteering at Heartbeat on Fri., and having the grandkids spend the night on Saturday.  I wake up each morning and ask myself....What day is today?  I like your quote from Calvin and Hobbs - "Change is invigorating! If we don't accept new challenges, you become complacent and lazy!  Your life atrophies!" So very true and in the spirit of his quote I am helping my son and his family move 20 minutes further away from us to a small quaint town of Perrysburg.  I may find myself needing the assistance of a realtor in the next year or so since my hubby and I are considering moving to this same town to be closer and settle into a less hectic town for our final home.  Change is good!!!  Just not now!!

Jonathan,  I may learn to get more selfish in a few more years.  I first have to learn not to feel guilty for wanting to do the things I want to do.  Maybe you all and Basha, and the rest of the characters can help me get there.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 17, 2017, 09:34:37 AM
Ginny,  Once again we were posting at the very same time.... we are people of habit.  I felt the same as you, why not put their names to their stories?  I do feel they wanted their names attached and said so.  These letters, stories, poems, experiences belonged to each of them, and to give a fictitious name seems a bit unfair.

She states on pg. 30  Nevertheless, privacy for individuals could be preserved, so I have changed all the names of people and groups mentioned here, this to allow myself freedom to record some of the unflattering thing I saw there, as much as possible to prevent the elderly from recognizing themselves and each other, to save them and their children any embarrassment that might accrue.  Certainly, I did not want to cause the old people pain that could be avoided, nor did I wish to jeopardize my welcome among them.

I suppose we may better understand her decision once we get further into the book, and then maybe we will agree with it.  As of now, I do wish the names could have remained with their stories so in fact they would see and know it was them.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 17, 2017, 09:55:29 AM
Bellamarie, I suspect the ethics of anthropology forbid using the subjects' real names.  And doing so could have unforeseen bad consequences.  But no fear about the members of the center recognizing themselves.  I bet they instantly identified everyone described.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 17, 2017, 10:04:46 AM
PatH.,  I was thinking the same thoughts.  They know their stories, letters, poems etc.  Myerhoff made it sound as if it were her own decision to not use their names, not so much an ethical forbidden rule in anthropology.  That's interesting, if so it would not be her choice at all to use fictitious names. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 17, 2017, 10:14:33 AM
Pat, :) I'm glad you enjoyed the Tennannah Lake House Adventures. hahaha It WAS a learning curve.

I loved your the three lives of an anthropologist, and the inevitable paradox of the profession.

Then he goes back to his original place.  It no longer seems the same to him, because he is different and sees it through new eyes.  So now he’s a third person, not quite back to where he started.

That part is what I'm hoping for us, the readers of this book,  as a consequence of this book and of this discussion.  That part is what happens to me every time I travel: this: This changes him; he’s no longer the same person; he’s absorbed new attitudes and ideals, and even if he doesn’t believe them he’s changed.

And I also think, in a slightly different way that the more cultures and things you are exposed to as a child or as an adult, is beneficial to you. College is supposed to do that, I am not sure it does.  Living in a big city you just have to accept that everybody is not like you and doesn't want to be, some are better, some are worse, and you have to find and create your own identity there. Somewhere.




Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 17, 2017, 10:52:23 AM
Bellamarie, that was a good post about the commonality in faith you share with those you also are on benches with, wherever you are.

On the "selfish," I wonder what Drabble means by "selfish." Jonathan, your mother said it too. I am pretty sure she meant she is thinking of herself to survive, and it worried her not to be thinking always of you children. Bless her heart.  I looked up "selfish" in Websters, I don't trust any of the others except Collins, and found:


1,  :  concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself :  seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

2
:  arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others a selfish act


So here the definition seems to say in disregard of, or without regard for,  others, but old age brings with it a lot of self concerns. Maybe we need a new word for "selfish." Look at how Basha wakes up. Does this move today? Does that hurt today? She has to go to the store, can she make it? Can she eat?  She needs this to survive, it's not an idle thought. Now we have Uber, could she afford it? What did they have in the '70's?

And then there's the Guilt factor, which we haven't mentioned, either.

It seems almost a survivalist thing. Children are said to be selfish. In the 3rd (or 4th) Age do we revert, then? The child is father of the man?

How much of what we say and do, especially as we age, is a direct throwback to or survival result of  our childhoods, do you think? Is that too loaded a question?

Hongfan, love that battery analogy, you're right on with that. And old age, again,  brings other drains on the battery. There ARE BP drugs and others for other conditions  which produce such lethargy you feel you need a train just to get out of bed or lift a hand.  What is saving us might be killing us, too, and many of us don't realize what's happening.

Oh and on the standing computer desk things? YES! I saw no end of ads for them overseas and some of them are very fine and cleverly done. Am definitely going to get one and stand as long as I can, standing uses calories and helps everything. I'm looking forward to it.

Pat and Bellamarie on the names, good points. But don't you see the irony in this?

But no fear about the members of the center recognizing themselves.  I bet they instantly identified everyone described.

And so...how many of them do you think are around today? Does passing it down as "Basha" achieve the same goal? Kind of makes it...a general trait or something?  I read once that the reason people write books (which I don't think is true) is to make a perpetual mark on history.

 The Romans were kind of obsessed with that, actually, Cicero wondered endlessly about his effect on history, how he would be perceived.  Atticus removed every single one of his own letters when he published Cicero's letters to him.  Augustus deleted every single word Caesar wrote that Augustus felt did not reflect well on Caesar, even his  books of jokes. (Apparently he had a sardonic sense of humor)...

Nothing gold can stay.  (Except gold of course, real gold never tarnishes, the Illuminated manuscripts glow today just as they did hundreds of years ago). That's a startling thing Christopher de Hamel once wrote and he's right....so....what is our hope of perpetuity?

Barbara, as always making great points:  I guess bottom line I think it is a waste of time to look for wisdom - look for ways to express life and in the doing you will experience all that will lead to wisdom - wisdom is defined as - the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; a body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period - you need to experience variety in life to know quality - a neighborhood that has deteriorated does not mean there is only negative experiences - it can be an opportunity - I think out of living is how we acquire wisdom - not this going on the trail looking for i

Love it!

The 3 email thing you describe was eye opening, wasn't it? I admire the way you're seeking new outlets and avenues.  One things is  for sure, if you don't try, it can't happen. 


Now if all these folks are in the nineties that is a different story but then - no - it isn't a different story - why waste the life you have bemoaning your circumstances this is silly - sorry I may be a stick in the mud to this book if it keeps on in this vain.

That's OK, you can be a stick in the mud, (you aren't).  I am thinking perhaps your reactions will help us get to the truth actually of what's happening. It's just so interesting because we all bring here different backgrounds and personalities, ages and stages, religious beliefs (which I do think make a difference)   and ideals, and theories about how life should be lived,   and really that's what you NEED for a really good book discussion. 

And I hate to say this but I'm not so sure that the kvetching is not bringing comfort and doing good  to the others on the bench. Let's read on and see.

It's interesting. When my husband and I were in our late 30's we took two cruises.  He hated it and said never again. One of them was on the QEII. One day I went up to one of the lounges to read a book and just sit and enjoy the ambiance and as such I was privy to a million conversations (I had to go back down to the room to read). Know what they all were about?

XXX's operation. YYY's procedure. ZZZ's reports....you don't know anything, why,  they said his XXX was the most...... that is ALL I heard sitting there for at least an hour and the people were relishing every detail. EVERY detail was of the greatest interest. What do I hear today in the grocery store? Same thing.  Exactly same thing.  What does that say about us?



On the college dorm idea,  I sure hope not!  What do we fear most about aging?

Really? What DO we fear the most?




Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 17, 2017, 12:09:31 PM
Ginny:
Quote
And I hate to say this but I'm not so sure that the kvetching is not bringing comfort and doing good  to the others on the bench. Let's read on and see.
Certainly it is.  For many people kvetching is a highly refined art form, enjoyed by both speaker and listener (unless the listener is the subject of the complaint).
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 17, 2017, 12:17:15 PM
Ginny:
Quote
And I also think, in a slightly different way that the more cultures and things you are exposed to as a child or as an adult, is beneficial to you.
Definitely.  I've lived abroad twice, and both times I experienced a mild version of the changes the anthropologists see.  And I've benefitted immensely by having friends from different cultures.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 17, 2017, 01:51:04 PM
I need to get the book and find the sentences but in the middle of too much just now for me to take that step - however, when I wrote I thought enough was enough and to go on with my thinking - from what i have been reading in chapter one is the one interviewing - the one describing is who I have a problem accepting as assisting the elders - it is her attitude that seems to be noticing and unearthing and even encouraging the ;) love it, the word 'kvetching' -

These folks are not alone - as you noticed Ginny on board the QEII a group who had nothing in common and who did not know each other intimately and who did not want to get into the emotional life of those they were socializing, so as you noticed their conversation was all about facts and factors. It is also a game I see many retired 'company' men play - they have lost their power as heads of companies or departments and so they regain some of that power by quoting facts and in monthly group meetings you'll notice they are the ones that 'must' arrange the chairs.

My gripe that I see so far in this book is the younger generation - with all good intentions want to use their opinion to explain and in some cases control elders - when folks are taking care of others, the 'cared for' cannot be of equal or higher status... it becomes a challenge if you are less physically capable, as Hungfan reminds us, to keep ourselves thinking of anything but ourselves and then, on top, it will be a challenge beyond easy to keep relevant in society - for many to stay relevant to who you are and not a stereo type elder within the family - one more excuse to have family members take over or talk the elder into their taking over, not just help but make the decisions. These decisions are seldom made with the elder's best interest the first and highest priority - entering in the decision is the convince, but far more, the emotional security of the helper.

Even last night watching the Tavis Smiley show interview Tony Bennett about his new CD with focus on the TV special for Tony Bennett's 90th Birthday - Tavis could not accept the comment Tony Bennett made about so much he has to learn in music - after some conversation he could accept that Tony Bennett did have a point that he had so much to learn in Art that has been a daily part of the life of Tony Bennett since his childhood. He is a very accomplished artist. Elders are stereotyped as having limited curiosity, capable of limited activity or adventures - there are so many platitudes - few community organizations encourage the ideas of elders whose ideas are not better or worse than someone in the forties and fifties, who many are not near as educated as the elder nor have the experience or know the history - I am not suggesting that the elder is more suited - I am suggesting they need an equal place at the table.

I recently came across a blog that out and out said elders cannot earn an income - phewy - lots of ways elders can earn extra and feel empowered to know they can contribute so they are still a valuable asset - but there are few who encourage work or show and list the ways that elders can earn an income - e.g. blogging with contact to a product or company that will give a small sum for each blogger or a blogger who will order a product - some cities have shops with hand made items made by seniors - those with good mobility can dog walk - I've seen some who put on puppet shows at the library and as a result they are hired for children's birthday parties - I've seen many a guy who knows how to fix things be in great demand - there are so many singles now that have no training how to do simple tasks as the upkeep of a house - just starting a few trays of seeds that are sold from your driveway or the assistant living location could allow an annual sale day of products made by the elders - there are those who were accountants and can from their bed if need be get on the computer and keep the accounts for a small group - I know a lot of Real Estate agents who would love to pay for just that assistance that the bookkeeping assistance make into a bigger and more comprehensive job that is less affordable - elders can develop writing skills to write reseme's - on and on - that is the kind of brainstorming that to me benefits the elders rather than documenting their 'kvetching' over their current circumstances and how it relates to their past trauma. 

Just look at the housing that is available for seniors that are downsizing - the living room, kitchen with dining area included, bathroom and one or two bedrooms - where is the 'doing' room - sure in the living room or dining area you can read and knit but any project has to be pushed aside in order to eat a meal - why do we just eat and not dine - oh it is too much work - or is it because we do not think of ourselves as worthy - If society is by passing us our own thinking becomes, we are sidelined - well if we do not take ourselves in hand and treat ourselves as special no one else will and no one will get the impression they should. Many of us get rid of all our good china, crystal and silver - phewy - use it daily - so it breaks - and where today can you sell it for any decent amount of money - oh yes, the grandkids - no they won't - once dead they will 'simplify' and get rid of it - so enjoy the beauty you saw when you picked your pattern and relish the joy of dining - another quote -  "What you allow is what continues"

But back to the 'doing' room - where does a guy pull out his tools or make his model planes or the doll house for his grandniece - where do women sew or make a quilt or spread out all the photos and start the research to create a family book with pictures and background - where are packages beautifully wrapped or art boxes made or holiday decorations created - all on that one dining table in the middle of everything so that there is no place to dine or for company to sit over some coffee or a glass of wine - where does the piano go or the cello - where is the space for a small group to gather and have a sing-a-long - even retirement communities that do have a large 'doing'/activity room there are no individual lockers for each to store their material for their doing. It is as if elders are supposed to only sit on benches out-of-doors, eat and watch TV or read a book - heck there is no place unless, you incorporate a desk in the living room to even layout your finances and where oh where is the computer to be set up - usually a little corner or a converted closet - nice - said with all the sarcasm you can muster  - so we are supposed to feel uplifted by being in some tight corner that is not even decorated in an uplifting way just to communicate that each year there are fewer and fewer with which to communicate - yep, I'm kvetching

Yes they are right, no one understands the horror and trauma of Holocaust survivors - just as no one who has not been raped or persecuted, or tortured or seen children blown up or their bus full of fellow classmates buried for days till they were found - there are many traumatic experiences that to each has their special pain - to place in an order of experience is only done by those who hear of the trauma's and try to imagine - but as elders are we identified by our past or is it a day to experience life rather than react to the day as if we are stuck in the camp, place of rape, cell or torture room or in a buried bus or watching our child swept away in a tsunami or by disease.

The wisdom of many elders is because of those traumatic life experiences but to weed through and find uplifting books and examples of living a full life is not easy - it reminds me of how everyone used to run, bike ride as fast as you could to watch the disaster and the traumatic past of elders is now the stuff of wanting to either acknowledge or even comfort but not lift into today.

Oh if you have money all is possible - but how to live a full life without others vying for control over your life while on a reduced income - that is the stories I like along with, the untold stories of those who still accomplish like Tony Bennet and Audrey Evans age 92 a doctor who specialized in children with Cancer and started the Ronald McDonald house - even the interview of Audrey Evans included a question why she should have been upset if not angry that she was the only female among her fellow doctors - the interviewer was not prepared for her to simply say, she thought it was amusing - Yes, they are big name folks however, they get the press and always have - that does not mean there are lots of average elders, who can be encouraged to be relevant as a contributing part of their community.         
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 17, 2017, 04:45:53 PM
Wonderful to have you back, Barb. What fun to read your posts. "A waste of time to look for wisdom." I've come to that conclusion myself, and was saving it for later in the discussion. A new generation is not interested in the wisdom, that we spent such a long lifetime gathering.

And such an honest confession on your part in an earlier post: - "sheesh I think i better just be quiet - this is not going well as I read this stuff..." Don't be modest. As I read, I suddenly realized, this is the greatest kvetch I've heard in a long time. Wonderful.

Just like I sense the high drama the author is promising us with her three 'protagonists': death, the ocean, and guilt. This is going to be awesome. Who would have guessed there could be so much to cope with at the end our days.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 17, 2017, 09:14:27 PM
Two cultures saying similar things:


In the evening he is cut down and withers.

   So teach us to number our days,
   That we may get us a heart of wisdom.


Fiftieth birthday:

        From now on,
  it's all clear profit,
       every sky.

               Issa  (1763-1827)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 17, 2017, 09:21:42 PM
 :) thanks Jonathan - as I read further the story becomes what i hope - rah rah Basha and your linen handkerchief - and great to read how Joscle handled the crazy lady - people after my own heart and I am neither a Jew or living in NY - I am thinking, this attitude about handling life is not necessarily Jewish in origin but rather from those who lived through the depression - I notice my younger sister, who is 15 years younger does not share these values. The book is redeeming itself so that we are not reading about helpless, dependent elders who can only, as was said a thousand times to me and not the most polite expression, "stop your bitching and do something about it!"

I am still annoyed with the interviewer scientist, who is now brining in the holocaust - sheesh - I bet the folks in the Center are NOT asking "Why me Lord? How do I deserve this?' - my thoughts are not kind but there are those who take satisfaction by living vicariously through the pain and suffering experienced by others. Thank goodness they proved her wrong and did not have crippling survivor's guilt. Her effort to justify a search for meaning as the result of the holocaust is minimizing any search for meaning among this group of elders - it is simply a part of life for many - it sounds more like she is wanting to prove a thesis learned during her formal education.

I still do not understand why study folks rather than, enjoy a lifestyle that is different than your own - page 31/32 hints at things to come and yes, I agree we see all that is included through the eye of this woman. 

aha Pat you posted while I was writing...
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 17, 2017, 09:58:46 PM
the younger generation - with all good intentions want to use their opinion to explain and in some cases control elders

haha, is this a "revenge" - when we are parents and raise our children, do we have those moment "with all good intentions want to use their opinion to explain and in some cases control" the children?

I think this is a situation that we all know where it comes from, there is a social norm and then there is a individual preference, some times, they don't go along with each other, what do you do?

A year or two ago, one of my closest friends called me, her my was diagnosed with cancer and had to start chemo immediately. Her mom didn't want to do it, she felt life was good, she was content, she felt that it was the time to just let her go. My friend, her sibling and their father were trying to convince her to go through the chemo. When she told me this, I had to work hard to swallow down what I really wanted to say - why not let her go, if THAT is what makes her happy? But I knew I couldn't say those, because I am not SUPPOSED to say this, and I guess my friend, no matter what she thought privately, she felt she should do everything to 'save" her mom.

Was her mom selfish wanting to go, "leaving" her family behind? Was my friend selfish "choosing" to let her mom go through the ordeal against her will? I don't know, selfish is rarely that clearly defined when each other are so deeply connected. If our beloved one's "selfish" actions make her/him happy, aren't we supposed to be happy too? And if we are happy, too, then those actions are not "selfish", aren't they? I don't know. I think the selfish concept is problematic, it is based on the notion that there is a clear cut of "self" vs. "other", do we really have such a clear cut? Where is the line between "self" and "other"?

when folks are taking care of others, the 'cared for' cannot be of equal or higher status

Kings and queens are "cared for" and they have higher status, aren't they? :)

Ginny asked how Chinese see their elders. In China, the culture is more of a hierarchical one compared to western culture, so traditionally seniority is a huge asset. In old days, Chinese all lived together - four generations in the same house was a typical scene, and the eldest had the highest social status in the house - it goes the same whether you were a commoner or you were the emperor. Chinese culture deems filial piety as the foundation of all virtues, so whatever the elders wish is the order to follow.

Having said that, China has lost it tradition in a big way, sadly. So today maybe in rural area, you can still see a good portion of the traditions have been kept (I hope), but in big cities, you don't see much of that retained any more. It is still hierarchical, but it's more likely completely upside down, the spoiled one child is the head of the family and whatever he/she wishes is the order to follow.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 18, 2017, 12:14:59 PM
Aren't we all caught in the web of time. Life can be wonderful at any age - or it can be a worrisome thing. To predict from your posts, this is going to be a lively discussion.

So let the play begin. I think the author saw it as such, with Chapter I serving as prologue. She certainly tells us what to look for, doesnt' she? Even sets the stage - on the boardwalk, beside the ocean, one of the three protagonists. The other two being death and guilt. This sounds epic. And the cast? Our Moms and Dads.

Many years ago I found myself on Fifth Aveue, NYC, on ST. Patrick's Day, with many others. Among us was a man peddling shamrocks and buttons with an Irish motif, himself covered with them. 'But you're not Irish', someone said to him. 'Today, we're all Irish.' was his reply.

Are you perturbed at the prospect of the Angel of Death appearing on the stage? Well--offstage, to be correct - don't be. I have it, on good evidence that he's a very kind and helpful being.

I have in my possession a small book, with hard covers, designed to fit into a breast pocket - A Book of Jewish Toughts, issued to Jewish servicemen, fighting in WWI and II. Mine was issued to F/L I...M... What caught my imagination was I M's own inscribed thought on the inside front cover:

'From  her eyes shines the stillness of the woods as the sun sets behind the trees.'
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 18, 2017, 12:21:27 PM
Not sure hongfan if revenge so much as fear of what is to come and the need to take control but then for each instance it is probably different and personal - but perfect - you nailed it!

Here we are as parents, when our kids are little and not capable of expressing their opinion so that, we at least attempt to explain for them and teach them how to control their behavior followed so quickly, we helped them learn how to offer their opinions and have a say in their choices so that if nothing else, at least by the time they are age 16 and 17 they can write all those collage entry essays where they have to explain 'who they are' and 'what are their goals in life' and 'why they would like to attend that particular collage/university' as well as many of our children during High School marched and protested based on their opinions that sometimes did not agree with our own - then these very children, grown into their 40s and 50s treat those aging caring parents as if they were pre-schoolers, whose choices are questioned or at times even ignored - shameful isn't it...

That was one of the things I admired about the children of my best friend of 45 years who died 2 years ago at age 96 - she wanted to live out her life and die at home and they supported her wish - so that yes, there was the tragedy of a fall that had her unconscious on the floor for nearly a full day and only discovered by her daughter, who called everyday and with no answer after repeated calls finally called a neighbor - but then, just as the last 3 years we, her three children, myself and two other friends, were there taking turns visiting, bringing meals, taking her to church etc. we also gathered to care for her those last 6 weeks of her life, 2 of which were in the hospital. But her wishes were honored That to me is loving someone - I still have the sharp memory of her 2 girls bending over their Mom to care of her body so that their hair met and then her son, who did have a rocky relationship with his mom, flew in from New Mexico and had the sweetest visit with her just 2 days before she passed.

Your close friend with the mom who has Cancer is a difficult situation isn't it - we each handle this dreadful disease differently - not sure it is so much about providing 'happiness' as a quality of life - here is one way this women chose to live with the diagnoses - I found her facebook account after she was on the road for about 4 months just about when they hit Texas and then over to Florida and up the east coast, across to Pittsburgh where they spent more time than usual - they then went back home to recoup before they started the western side of their trip - so many including myself followed it daily - it was such an uplifting story and she had the time of her life - I plan on getting the book next month...

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/91-year-old-inspired-thousands-skipping-chemotherapy-to-go-on-end-of-life-road-trip-dies-a7345951.html  

Here is the Amazon link to the book - Driving Miss Norma: One Family's Journey Saying "Yes" to Living
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062664328/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_8?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

A diagnosis of cancer is a difficult choice isn't it because there is no guarantee with treatment and then if you accept treatment you end up spending months in misery being so ill and weak from the treatment - then if it does not work there were months of anything but quality for your life - I remember my Mom who had serious heart issues spending 6 months in the hospital and finally getting a few week reprieve that she could not even go home but a good friend took her in and then she had a freak accident less then a week later, fell and died - so different then my good friend.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 18, 2017, 12:31:00 PM
Oh Jonathan just saw, we were posting at the same time - the quote inside the book is lovely - calming and full of love for the world we live in isn't it - 'From  her eyes shines the stillness of the woods as the sun sets behind the trees.'

As to this concept of the Angle of Death - not so sure but then I quit thinking about what is next and decided it will be whatever it is - maybe nothing and maybe an adventure but since I have no memory of myself before birth I suspect I will have no memory or active consciousness after death.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 18, 2017, 08:29:45 PM
What some of you are saying leads neatly into Ginny's question: what do older people fear the most?  I think it's loss of control: not being to make your own decisions, or do things the way you want, whether it makes sense to anyone else or not.  The people in this book have mastered this; they are faced with cruel decisions because of finances or frailty, but all their decisions are theirs.  They have managed to carve out a life that suits them, keeps them interested, and doesn't put them somewhere stuck with nowhere to go and nothing useful to do, tiptoeing around needs of another household's routine, or worse, stuck in the routine and cuisine of some institution.  Myerhoff sees this clearly, and in chapter 1 you can see her admiration and respect for them.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 18, 2017, 11:19:25 PM
WOW!  Some very good posts here and even though I am exhausted and every inch of my body is aching from helping my son and his family move into their new home yesterday, and painting my three granddaughter's bedrooms, I will try to get a few thoughts in before falling off to sleep. 

Barb,
Quote
But back to the 'doing' room - where does a guy pull out his tools or make his model planes or the doll house for his grandniece - where do women sew or make a quilt or spread out all the photos and start the research to create a family book with pictures and background - where are packages beautifully wrapped or art boxes made or holiday decorations created - all on that one dining table in the middle of everything so that there is no place to dine or for company to sit over some coffee or a glass of wine - where does the piano go or the cello - where is the space for a small group to gather and have a sing-a-long - even retirement communities that do have a large 'doing'/activity room there are no individual lockers for each to store their material for their doing.

I personally created a "doing room" for myself so I can do things such as exercise, sort pictures, sew, or work on the book I am writing, and leave it right there to return to at a later date.  I am fortunate to still have our three bedroom home with a finished basement as a family room and a computer/library which my hubby enjoys to hang out since he has a big screen tv to watch all his sports and shows on, so I converted one of the spare bedrooms into my personal "doing room" or meditation room because I put all my favorite things in there such as music, book shelves, doll collection, treadmill, and rocking chair etc. I think everyone should have a "doing room."

Kvetching.... now isn't that a fun word!  When I read that it made me think of the saying, "shooting the breeze", but then when I looked it up according to the Merriam Webster dictionary it means: to complain habitually.  Now that is NOT fun at all.  But for some reason I just like the way the word sounds.  I have a friend who constantly complains, she has a good life, a wonderful husband, three sons and an adoptive daughter, nice home, she never had to work outside the home because her husband made a good income, yet she complains incessantly.  I told a mutual friend that it got on my nerves, because she should be so much more grateful for all she has.  Do you think some elderly people fall into the habit of complaining, and don't even realize they are doing it?

Ginny asks what to we fear the most about aging.  I fear not being able to take care of myself and get around.  I am not a confident driver and over the past couple of years I have developed anxiety driving on the expressway.  I don't drive very often at all since the hubby always does, but I still don't like the expressway, and wouldn't you know it, all three of my adult children and their family now live a distance away that requires us to drive the expressway to visit them.  I simply hate it!   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 19, 2017, 08:38:55 AM
I am absolutely loving all the posts here and the points made, such a rich panoply (I can't think of another word this morning) of topics and ideas, and thank goodness we're talking TO each other, that's an art in itself.

Where to START?

Barbara's dorm room idea and the "doing room," also struck me, Bellamarie, and those are serious considerations, too.

If we all think of our own lives and spaces...are we saying our "doings" have to be out of sight because they are all over the place and more comfortable to us hidden?  What an interesting topic that is, alone.  There was a movie/ documentary a while back and I can't remember but one thing about it: when the police went to interview a renowned scholar, and were cordially received, they had to move stacks of books and reviews and journals off seats just to sit down and one of them opined later to the camera, "I've never seen anything like it."  If any of you have been in the Carl Sandburg home which is maintained just as he left it you will have the idea.

But why wouldn't a scholar be surrounded by his books and why would his wife who received the detectives be embarrassed about it? To some people books are riches.

And then what do we fear, that was super, Pat. Are there any other fears you all can think of that might be influencing some of the people in the book? (As well as us?)

What about the fear of being forgotten? Of having even existed at all? Is that real for these folks in CA? They have children.

There's complaining and then there's kvetching. As Pat said, I agree it's an art form, but I feel comfortable around it, that is, listening to it. It's a method of communication, it's an established bond from the very first sentence.... It's hard to describe how it's different.  When WE hear complaining  we want to remonstrate, oh look on the bright side, always on the sunny side, keep on the sunny side of life..... like the song says, oh count your blessings, for heaven's  sake.  But THIS type of thing is, to me,  different.  I am not sure how, but it is.

Just looking back over the posts, they do say that losing your license, the ability to drive, is BIG. I can see how it would be, especially if you live out a ways and have to take the pike or expressway or interstate to go anywhere.  Those Interstates you have to keep driving on,  they, as Bellamarie expressed, scare you to death. I hadn't driven on one for a month, after making several trips a week during the year,  and the infamous I-85 corridor last Thursday nearly scared me to death. I had to force self continually to stay ON the thing, ran below the speed limit which everybody else was exceeding by at least 10 mph, way up in the 70's  and not take the side roads which would have added an hour to the trip.   And the kids are out of school and it's like a raceway, literally, like Formula One racing cars.  Accidents everywhere. I had the wheel gripped with white fingers which I had to pry off when I got there, no joke. But this morning I'm doing it again at 11:00, and I bet the feeling is different tho those much younger than I am who take it every day shake their heads over it, it's the most traveled stretch of road anywhere or so they claim. At least in LA they are moving 10 mph! hahaha

All of a sudden? Everybody is too fast for me. Moving too fast, walking too fast. Too fast.

Perhaps Uber and the driverless cars will offer US a solution before it's over.

And I did like Barbara's story of her friend who did stay home with the help of others who formed it seemed to me their own little  "community" until she died.

And I appreciated hongfan's look at the Chinese way of life and how the elderly are treated, at first the same as Pearl Buck so memorably portrayed in The Good Earth and then different. I wonder how much the one child per family decree has  changed that?

So even ancient cultures can change and some patterns wear out, as we can see happening in our group here on the beach.

I do like Jonathan's keeping the other protagonists in mind as Myerhoff calls them, it will be interesting to see they part they play in this. They must play some part or she would not have named them such.


The cancer situation is quite difficult, isn't it? It needs the wisdom of Solomon, particularly in the light of the recent report by the BBC on the reason doctors can't give prognoses about the efficacy of chemotherapy in such cases.

I think maybe what Barbara is reacting to about the narrator is something I also thought initially, about the clinical sort of dissection of these folks, the role  of the 4th Protagonist, the anthropologist herself.  I had an initial like reaction.

It's hard to say why, for me. All I can think of is the old Walter Winchell show in which they would show a person going about their day and then this voice over would begin solemnly intoning  "XXX doesn't know it but today will change her life forever."

I absolutely HATED that show.  Just let me live out my own life without analyzing me. There's something about that analyzing and psychoanalyzing  which drives me wild.

However I do acknowledge the beauty here of the writing, and that I know nothing of anthropology,  (is it judgmental? Somebody somewhere has to come to some conclusions), or that the anthropologist apparently has to get close to and life with or like the subjects to do a good job. Will we agree this time with those conclusions? Is Myerhoff too close despite the disclaimers, to be objective?

So  I agree with Jonathan that we all are in for a real treat if we can stick it out.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 19, 2017, 08:49:18 AM
Sorry to arrive so late, I had to cope with a "family emergency".  I finally made it.
I don't have the book yet, so it is harder to comment on the content. 
I read the comments up to now and one stuck me as being so actual here in Israel.

"on page 17: "these people achieved in one [generation] , as a result they were dubbed, 'The one generation proletariat.'"  But if you read on there, you can see the cost: the Old World Parents and the New World Children split. "

That is exactly what happened with the new immigrants from Ethiopia.  In their home country, the father or grand pa was the authority of the family and was receiving the highest respect from all (as in Chinese culture) and was the one advising wisely about anything concerning the family.
When they came to Israel, the children were enrolled in school with the Israeli kids who are the less disciplined on earth: familiarity with teachers, elders, even disrespect is the rule.  As a result the elders felt useless, had nothing to offer in this new culture they knew nothing about.  So they walk aimlessly around or sit passive and morose in a corner.  They are not used to "benches" and the females members are busy with running the household, running errands, cooking etc.  They at least have something to do.

The bench meetings for elderly  is still a reality for the Ashkenazi men, who also bring chess games with them.  The Sephardi prefer to meet on cafe terraces with their backgammon sets and they discuss about the daily news and politics in general.  On those terraces women also meet, on different tables and comment on their life or their visits to the doctor.

So, not much difference even if it is across the ocean.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 19, 2017, 08:59:01 AM
But today we move on to Chapter 2, Shmuel, "Needle and Thread: The Life and Death of a  Tailor."

The Jewish Tailor, how symbolic of her to start with a tailor.  I don't have any ready made questions specific on this chapter, and I'm leaving up the general ones in the heading as they may inform us yet, I hope but I have some about this chapter, myself.

1. What did  you think of Shmuel (Samuel) in Hebrew: strong. Did he live up to that name? What one thing in his story stood out for you? Once you read his story do you feel you understand the culture better?

2. I don't personally understand the attitude of the Center Folks to Shmuel. Especially after his death. Even the Romans held to the concept of De mortuis nihil nisi bonum. Perhaps out of superstition, perhaps not.

He wasn't a Zionist, was that the cause? They called him a "linkie." I may not have the true definition of that word but if they were using it for what I think it means, it's a fool who thinks he's special, is that right?

Was that your impression of him?

 I spent a lot of time yesterday looking up some of the things alluded to here. Zionism. The Six Day War.  What was it they used to say when I was a child, "next year in Israel?" Do I have that right? Planting a tree? Those are old old memories which may in fact have no meaning here,  and I hadn't thought of them in years.

3. What seems to be the one most important thing to those folks in the Center? What did Shumel provide for them and what was their reaction to it? He would laugh, his wife was outraged and didn't understand why he went. What would you have said to your own spouse if this were happening it him/ her?

Why DID he go, do you think?

And what beautiful thoughts he had about his childhood town and the importance of that experience.

4. It seems he died shortly after his interview with Myerhoff.  This is a very dramatic chapter, what was your reaction to it?

5. What did you think of his philosophy of life which we would call, "What Goes Around Comes Around?" Do you agree with it or not? (page 65). "This is my incurable wound with me all of my life since then."

6. Which, in all the poignant stories he told, did you find the most memorable and why?

7. Even tho Shmuel said he perfected the word "Jewish" instead of "Yiddish," were you confused at the end by the use of the term?

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 19, 2017, 09:01:00 AM
What some of you are saying leads neatly into Ginny's question: what do older people fear the most?  I think it's loss of control: not being to make your own decisions, or do things the way you want, whether it makes sense to anyone else or not.   

You are so right Pat!  That and the loss of independence.  I hate it when the children think they know best what I should do or what would be  the best for me. I tell them I still have a sane head on my shoulders and my thinking faculties are still intact. :)  But of course body reactions are slower, the strength for doing things is ebbing. Still, our preferences and choices should remain ours to decide.

 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 19, 2017, 09:08:28 AM
SOAP!! You're HERE, from Israel, yet, we were posting together! Welcome, welcome!!!! Welcome!

And how interesting on the Ethiopian immigrants and how their move to a new country changed their own way of life.  Shmuel says in this chapter the rabbi told his father, "to move is to change your luck." His father apparently  had an awful time leaving the place of his father and his father before him.

"The bench meetings for elderly  is still a reality for the Ashkenazi men, who also bring chess games with them.  The Sephardi prefer to meet on cafe terraces with their backgammon sets and they discuss about the daily news and politics in general.  On those terraces women also meet, on different tables and comment on their life or their visits to the doctor."

Now here you mention Ashkenazi men and Sephardi, and I guess I am wondering how they are different? Is it country of origin or beliefs, and would I know in looking at these benches other than the cafe terraces and backgammon sets (my father played a lot of backgammon, I have never tried), them apart? From looking, or perhaps talking to?

I hope your book comes, I really want to hear your impression of Shmuel.

Welcome!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 19, 2017, 09:58:41 AM
Ashkenazi    and Sephardi differs not only from the country of origin, but also in the language they speak.  Yiddish is exclusively spoken by  Ashkenazi  while Sephardi speak Ladino, which apparently is the medieval Castilian spoken then in Spain. Some religious traditions are different and the synagogue   tunes for  prayers not the same.

 You could recognize the difference in the way they used to dress, Ashkenazi  men with dark caftan and felt or fur hats and their woman folks with sober long dresses,  opaque stockings, hats or wigs.
 Sephardi men do not limit themselves to dark suits, they often have just their white shirt, often with turned up sleeves.  The woman have long skirts of any color that cover their legs and most don't bother with stockings. Head cover would be a bright kerchief.  I am sure the differences are influence with the climate of origin.
Sephardi are usually louder too and most jolly :)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 19, 2017, 10:07:28 AM
Shmuel would fit very well in Israel even though he is not a Zionist.  Many here share his ideas, so he is not atypical.

I have read this chapter only from the extracts on the net and I have nothing for the rest of the book, so I hope the book will arrive by the end of the month.

What Shmuel said about speaking Jewish versus Hebrew is what some orthodox Jews believe to this day: Hebrew is for the sacred content only and Yiddish is for every day use.  When I first came to Israel, people asked if I talked Yiddish and when I admitted my ignorance they replied: Then you are not Jewish!  Until the mid 60s, Sephardis were very much the underdog of the society.

Shmuel comes from two Hebrew words, listening or hearing and God. So the meaning would be God-heard.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 19, 2017, 11:40:05 AM
Barbara, thank you for the links, I have not checked into them yet but will do later. To complete on my friend 's story, her mom went through chemo twice I think and seems she has been reacting well. My friend and I will both fly to Shanghai in July and I plan to see her mom then.

Back to the book, I read through the chapter quickly yesterday and haven't got a feeling that I have absorbed them yet. So ignorant I am on Jewish culture, I have more questions in my mind than answers.

I like Shmuel a lot, particularly his attitude towards not harming ANY life. But I don't know where had he drawn from. Isn't there an element of holy war in the old bible? Wasn't Abraham asked to sacrifice his only son? Wasn't Mosis punished by death because he did not follow the instructions to talk to the rock but instead he stoke the rock? My memories are wrong? How to see those and Shmuel's attitude together side by side?

I don't understand why Shmuel or maybe the author thought the Center people needed Shmuel? It didn't strike that, on the contrary, it seems to me they would have been happier without him being among them. Was there a self-assured importance to "teach" those "uneducated" Center people although he knew what he said hadn't made an impact in them. Was he treating his people like pre-schoolers?

And why he thinks wrong or sad if the son gives the father money? What was behind this attitude?

I am so ignorant on the culture and that's why I am here!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 19, 2017, 12:16:04 PM
Welcome so P Bubble!!!   I am so excited to have you here with us to help us have a better understanding of the Ashkenazi and Shephardi, and having you living in Israel is such an added gift for us here in the discussion.  This part of your post really got my attention:

Quote
That is exactly what happened with the new immigrants from Ethiopia.  In their home country, the father or grand pa was the authority of the family and was receiving the highest respect from all (as in Chinese culture) and was the one advising wisely about anything concerning the family.
When they came to Israel, the children were enrolled in school with the Israeli kids who are the less disciplined on earth: familiarity with teachers, elders, even disrespect is the rule.  As a result the elders felt useless, had nothing to offer in this new culture they knew nothing about.  So they walk aimlessly around or sit passive and morose in a corner.  They are not used to "benches" and the females members are busy with running the household, running errands, cooking etc.  They at least have something to do.

I love diversity, that is what makes America such a great country, but with diversity/immigration we must accept other cultures coming into our schools and teaching our children new ways, and vice versa.  In saying this, I feel that the lack of respect for elderly, rules and authority is becoming, or shall I say, has already become, a way in the U.S. as well. I taught in a Catholic school from 1984 - 1998 and there was still the respect for teachers, principal, and rules in general.  Today I am shocked at how the laws have changed giving children/students more control in a classroom than the teacher his/herself.  There have been many changes to accommodate immigrated students and families which is good, yet also it has taken away some rights of others which has caused conflict in the school systems.  My granddaughter will graduate in Early Childhood Education next Spring and I fear for what reality she will find when she goes to teach in the public school system.  She did some student teaching in a public High School for a few weeks and told me she was scared to death because of the vulgar language and the undisciplined behavior of the students.  Her being so young and beautiful the boys did not hesitate to intimidate her.  I am so glad she intends to stay with K-2nd grades.

It is sad to imagine the elders feeling left out and useless.  I do think this is yet another of our fears of aging..... being left out, not seen, not needed, not feeling like there is a place you fit into the every day life.  This makes me extremely sad to imagine it happening to me or any of my family or friends.

I am on to read chapter 2 today, since my week end was full of helping my son and his family move into their new home.  NO fear of me not being needed just yet! 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 19, 2017, 12:20:20 PM
hongfan,
Quote
I am so ignorant on the culture and that's why I am here!

You are NOT alone!  I have no knowledge of the Jewish culture other than what we discuss in my Bible study group which took place thousands of years ago, and I am sure has changed greatly by the time this book was written with them being here in America rather than their birthplace/homeland.  We can muddle through and learn together.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 19, 2017, 04:18:25 PM


'Sephardi are usually louder too and most jolly.'

Bubble!! Are you, who I think you are? Are you the regular of the WREX group on the early SeniorNet? What a lot of fun that was. All my Jewish friends are or have an Ashkenazi background, and I can't imagine anyone louder or jollier. Are the Sephardi such a mishmash of ideology and religiositey as our friends in the book?

Bellamarie, I envy you and your small town driving pleasures. I'm much more comfortable on the expressway. In fact, it gets the adrenaline going. In the city here I'd rather take a cab and let someone else do the driving.

hongfan, you're really missing something if you don't have some Jewish friends.






Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 19, 2017, 06:49:18 PM
I hope this book is my first Jewish friend😀
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 19, 2017, 11:38:08 PM
"but since I have no memory of myself before birth I suspect I will have no memory or active consciousness after death"

The memory might be in all the choices you have made in this life - love this person but not that one, be drawn to this thing but not that thing?

If we subscribe to the view of Buddhism, life is all about "balancing the account", isn't it? What we owed in the last life, we came to repay in this life - seems accounting is a very useful skill  :)

If we subscribe to the view of the Ancient Greek philosophers, the body is the tomb of the soul, hence the true birth is the death of the body?

"Who knows whether life is death, and death life? So in reality , perhaps, we are in a state of death. I myself once heard one of the wise men say that in the present life we are dead, and the body is our tomb." - Plato's Gorgias
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 20, 2017, 01:03:56 AM
I have to share this wonderful story with you all that happened today at my granddaughter's basketball game.  I was sitting in the stands with my oldest granddaughter Kenzie, who is the one I mentioned in my last post, who will graduate with an Early Education degree next Spring.  As she and I were sitting together watching her younger high school sister Avery play varsity summer basketball, an elderly man walked by us.  He stopped and said, "Hi I know you are Avery's older sister I just don't know your name."  Kenzie responded,  "I am Kenzie."  He said, "Well I come to all the basketball games and I have gotten to know Avery, she is a very good basketball player."  Kenzie responded, "Thank you, that is so nice of you to say.  I see you at all of the basketball games all the time, you are always so nice and Avery really likes you."  He blushed a shade of red, had a twinkle in his eyes and smiled from ear to ear, then said,  "Why thank you for saying that."  After he left I told Kenzie that was such a sweet thing for her to say to him it truly made him feel so special.  I told Kenzie I am reading this book with my online book club, and how the elderly people express how they want to be seen, heard, and needed, and how they feel like the younger generation of children don't really hear or see them.  Kenzie and I always share the books we read, and talk about movies we watch, even though she is only twenty-one years old we have so much in common.  I told her about how I mentioned to the book c about how the high school student teaching was a bit rough and an eye opener for her and she said,  "Oh Nonnie I was shocked at how disrespectful the students were, it was really hard for me, and yes, I only want to teach the little ones who are still so innocent."  It truly made me my heart happy to see her engage in conversation with that elderly man and go out of her way to make him feel important.  I know my granddaughter is special, kind, sweet, caring and loving, but just watching her with that total stranger gave me hope for this upcoming generation. 

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 20, 2017, 09:00:05 AM
Yes Jonathan, I am the same Bubble :)  writing less these days.  Where you Jonathan then?

I believe all Jews are  a mishmash of ideology and religion even when not proper-religious.  For most, like myself, it is more traditions that bound ourselves together.  These traditions differ between the two groups.  I favor the Sephardi way as being less austere, maybe closer to the people in general.  This is particularly true in the education of children. I was shocked here when I heard that Ashkenazi fathers would not touch or hug their daughters once they reached age 10.

Anyway, for more on Ashkenazi religious family lives, please read any of the novels by Naomi Ragen https://www.overdrive.com/creators/441299/naomi-ragen (https://www.overdrive.com/creators/441299/naomi-ragen)

About Sephardi Jews 'The Ghost of Hannah Mendes' is a historical tale of the time Jews were banish from Spain and Portugal.
All that is background of course, very different from the book we are reading.
Sorry about the digressions: without the book It is hard to follow.

Bellamarie: Bravo for Kenzie.  I wish the younger generation would be so considerate of us in our "golden" years.

"Who knows whether life is death, and death life?"
hongfan - For me this doesn't matter one bit. I am what I am and I live day to day.  As I age I also  become more forgiving for the others around me.  I am not trying to leave a mark of my passage in this life, but try to enjoy/remember the marks left by those crossing my path.  That is because I have been displaced so many times I suppose: I feel without deep personal roots- except for those roots from tradition.  Life is like a tapestry, each one of us a thread of different color or texture, some long, some shorter, some bold, other more mute.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 20, 2017, 09:13:14 AM
Once again, Bubble and I were posting together but boy howdy, the profundity there is kind of a hard act to follow.

I want to think about some of that, especially: That is because I have been displaced so many times I suppose: I feel without deep personal roots- except for those roots from tradition.  Life is like a tapestry, each one of us a thread of different color or texture, some long, some shorter, some bold, other more mute.

That's beautiful.

I wish I could type better, just about everything Shmuel  says is quotable. Maybe tomorrow. Here's one on page 74:

"The wise man searches, but not to find. He searches because even though there is nothing to find, it is necessary to search."

So not to search and question makes one not a wise man, perhaps that's what he's trying to do in the Center, do you agree with this philosophy?

 "Ashkenazi    and Sephardi differs not only from the country of origin, but also in the language they speak.  Yiddish is exclusively spoken by  Ashkenazi  while Sephardi speak Ladino, which apparently is the medieval Castilian spoken then in Spain. Some religious traditions are different and the synagogue   tunes for  prayers not the same."


Thank you for that! When I asked  that question about the Askenazi and Sephardi, did they look different, did they speak differently, I went away and thought what an ignorant question, you idiot, go back in there and say so but by the time I got back IN, look at the result!! Now I never would have known that, not any of it, without asking, and when I read that a lot of old memories clicked into place.  Thank you!

On this one: Shmuel comes from two Hebrew words, listening or hearing and God. So the meaning would be God-heard.

Love it. How is Shmuel pronounced?

I had a feeling looking in yesterday that the reason more of us were not commenting on Shmuel is because we have not all yet read his story.  Bubble has extracts and hongfan has read it but is not sure, and I think that's a great jumping off place for our discussion today, while we wait for everybody to read it. It's not something one reads and says ok on to the next chapter. I think we can wait a bit for everybody to catch up because I REALLY want to hear your opinions.

Bubble (is that better than Soap?) hahaha, when you say he'd fit right in, in Israel, what did you mean?   He's not a Zionist but he likes to prod and argue, he likes to make people think by stirring them up provocatively. Does that happen a lot?

 His wife wonders why he keeps trying while the Center folks are quite angry, after all he's attacking their religious beliefs and trying to say that his understanding is better. Some of them call him names, like "linkie." I had never heard that before, does that mean anything other than a deluded fool to you? Or a fool who thinks he's special?

What a cruel epithet to use. It seems at the same time derisory and also defensive.  It indicates to me a lack of wanting to even consider his views.

Of course in any religion we have people who speak the mantra but who can't quote the source, whose understanding of religion or anything else is shallow but that seems to really irritate him. His entire education seems to have been only the Torah, but he knows it.  He can quote it.  But is he right?

He says, "How could they understand? They haven't got the view, so uneducated.  The weight of Jewish history,  Jewish thought, is to heavy for these people. They are too small to bear the Covenant. ...What could I expect them to say? Should they thank me? My presence pierces them like a polished arrow....At least I have the satisfaction of knowing I am in good company." (With the prophets, especially citing Jeremiah.)

Why does he do this, do you think?

Is he trying to do pilpul with people who have no interest or the ability to do that? Do you agree with his wife or him in this?

Hongfan said, "I don't understand why Shmuel or maybe the author thought the Center people needed Shmuel? It didn't strike that, on the contrary, it seems to me they would have been happier without him being among them. Was there a self-assured importance to "teach" those "uneducated" Center people although he knew what he said hadn't made an impact in them. Was he treating his people like pre-schoolers?"

That's an excellent question. What do the rest of you think? What do you think he wants?

What did you personally (those of you who have read the chapter so far, I know it's not many, that's OK) take from the Shmuel chapter?

How do YOU feel about him? To me, confronted with so many images, his father talking to the graves, the way he found God in a needle, his dedication to the trade he was given to do, every stitch, the entire life in a stitch, that ethic, his entire story, is unforgettable.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 20, 2017, 09:31:16 AM
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/NumberourDayscover.jpg)


They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it on subjects in the USA, and let them speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us June 15! 

Questions to Ponder on  Chapter 1

Chapter 1 is a scholarly defense of the subject matter....hard to read... if you don't like these questions, add your own:


1.   a. Who is this a study of?  b. What makes it a unique sample?

2.   How  would you characterize the elders in this study?  Are they high-functioning?  Well-off?

3.   What does the Center fulfill for the men and women on the Boardwalk?

4.   What made for successful aging among the elders?

5.   How does the Jewish faith affect the men and women's approach to aging?  How do they envision old age?

6.   What do you think the psalm "So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom" mean to you?

7.   What do you think of these elders?  Do they impress you, annoy you?  Do they remind you of relatives?


I'm going to add some non stock questions  I think are important, too, in fact they are what jumped out at me, what jumped out at YOU?

1. What seems to be the most important thing to the people she is writing about? What do you think the most important thing to YOU would be?

2. What function does the "Center" have for the community of elders that use it?

These two questions, in my mind, are not related, but they may be, in yours.




Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 20, 2017, 09:32:45 AM
Bellamarie, that IS a lovely story. I hope all the children of tomorrow are the same, because this world we've brought them to needs help, I think.

And then there are  the sayings, hongfan questioned one of them, page 46: "In Jewish we have a saying, "When the father gives to the son, both are happy. When the son gives to the father both weep.'"

These little sayings are all over the book. They stick with one like glue (That's probably the intent).  What do you call this type of saying or aphorism or??  I wonder if there's a Yiddish word for them?

Do YOU understand this statement? Do you agree with it? Why or why not?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 20, 2017, 10:07:00 AM
And one more interesting thing: I received this in the mail from Bubble:

Impressive New York Jewish History

1.  The first Jews to set foot in North America arrived in New York as a group of 23 in 1654.

2.  Congregation Shearith Israel, founded in New York in 1654, was the first synagogue in the colonies. It was the sole purveyor of kosher meat until 1813.

3.  By the late19th century, there were over 5,000 kosher butchers and 1,000 slaughterers in New York.

4.  In1902, the Beef Trust raised the price of kosher meat on the Lower East Side from 12 to 18 cents per pound. After butchers’ boycotts proved ineffectual, 20,000 Lower East Side women stole meat from kosher butcher shops and set it on fire on the streets in protest. The Forward supported their efforts, running the headline “Bravo, Bravo, Bravo, Jewish women!”

5.   On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire claimed the lives of 146 garment workers, the majority of whom were Jewish immigrants. Reporting on the tragedy, the "Forvitz" wrote that ‘the disaster is too great, to dreadful, to be able to express one’s feelings.”

6.  When entertainer Al Jolson came to New York City at age 14, he held jobs in the circus and as a singing waiter. Born to a cantor, Jolson's career took off when he began performing in black face.

7.  In 1903, the Lower East Side Chinese and Jewish communities formed an unlikely partnership when Chinese organizers put on a benefit for Jewish victims of the Kishinev pogrom, raising $280.

8.  In 1930, there were over 80 pickle vendors in the Lower East Side’s thriving Jewish pickle scene. The briny delights were brought to America in the mid-19th century by German Jewish immigrants.

9.   The egg cream is thought to have been invented by the Jewish owner of a Brooklyn candy shop. Musician Lou Reed was a famous admirer of the frothy drink.

10.   From the beginning of the 20th century till the close of World War II, the Lower East Side’s 2nd Avenue was known as the Yiddish Theater District, or the Jewish Rialto. It extended from 2nd Avenue to Avenue B, and from 14th Street to Houston. Considered Broadway’s competitor, the Jewish Rialto was home to a variety of productions including burlesque and vaudeville shows, as well as Shakespearean, Jewish and classic plays, and were all in Yiddish.

11.  The Jewish Rialto’s most popular haunt was the Cafe Royal on Second Avenue and 12th Street, where one could find performers such as Molly Picon and Charlie Chaplin sharing blintzes.

12. Pushcarts were all the rage among Jewish vendors on the Lower East Side from the turn of the century until 1940, when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia banned their use. Jewish pushcart operators sold everything from vegetables to cigars to stockings.

13.   At Sammy’s Roumanian Steak
House on Chrystie and Delancey, every table is provided with a bottle of chicken fat as a condiment; resident emcee Dani Luv entertained diners with renditions of Jewish standards and punchy Borsht Belt humor.

14.  One of the first kosher Chinese restaurants in New York was Moshe Peking, whose all-Chinese wait staff wore yarmulkes.

15.  The Second Avenue Deli opened in 1954 in the then-fading Yiddish Theater District. It featured a Yiddish Walk of Fame on the sidewalk outside its original location on Second Avenue and Tenth Street, and served up such Jewish specialties as matzo ball soup and corned beef. In 2007, it closed and reopened in Murray Hill.

16.  Famed music club CBGB was opened in 1973 by Jewish founder Hilly Kristal.

17.  Mayor La Guardia, who served for three terms from 1934 to 1945, was born to a Jewish mother and descended from Rabbi Samuel David Luzzatto, but practiced as an Episcopalian.

18. The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was named in honor of the Jewish U.S. senator, who served from 1957 to 1981.

19.  Sig Klein’s Fat Men’s Shop opened in the late 1800s at 52 Third Ave., and carried plus-sized clothes for men. Its sign featured the slogan: “If everyone was fat there would be no war.”

20. Abraham Beame was the first practicing Jew to become mayor of New York. He held office from 1974 to 1977.

21.  The popular and proudly Jewish mayor Ed Koch, who served from 1978 to 1989, was known for the phrase “How’m  I doing?” which he would ask passersby while standing on street corners or riding the subway. Newsday called him the “ultimate New Yorker.”

22. The erection of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 and the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903 catalyzed a Jewish exodus from the Lower East Side to Southside Williamsburg. Crossing the bridge on foot, the LES’s Jews left in search of better living conditions.

23.   By 1930, more than 40% of New York City’s Jews lived in Brooklyn.

24.  Jewish-fronted band, The Ramones formed in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens in 1974.

25.   Allen Ginsberg moved to New York to attend Columbia in 1943. He was purportedly related to seminal Zionist thinker Ahad Ha’am.

26.  Poet and kabbalist Lionel Ziprin entertained visitors including Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, and Bob Dylan in his Lower East Side living room, expounding for hours on Jewish esoterica and history.

27. The bagel originated in Poland, and arrived in New York City in the 1880s in the hands of Eastern European Jewish immigrants.

28. Three hundred all-Jewish New York bagel craftsmen formed a trade union in the early 1900s, the Bagel Bakers Local 338, which established standards for bagel production and conducted meetings in Yiddish.

29  In December 1951, New York City was hit with what The New York Times termed the “bagel famine,” when a dispute between the members of the Bagel trade union and the Bagel Bakers association led to the closing of 32 out of 34 of the city’s bagel bakeries.

30.  As a result of the bagel outage, the sale of lox dropped nearly 50%. Murray Nathan, who helped resolve an earlier lox strike in 1948, was brought in to mediate the situation. The outage lasted until February.

31. Coney Island Bagels and Bialys, the oldest kosher bagel shop in New York, was set to close in 2011 until two Muslim businessmen, Peerzada Shah and Zafaryab Ali, bought the store and promised to keep it kosher. Ali had previously worked at the shop for 10 years.

32.  Lou Reed was born in Brooklyn, and in 1989 released an album whose title, “New York,” paid tribute to the city.

33.  In a reinterpretation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” Lou Reed asked the four questions at the Downtown Seder at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in 2004.

34.  Musician Lenny Kaye was born in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan in 1946. He met Patti Smith while working at Village Oldies on Bleecker Street and went on to become a member of the Patti Smith Group.

35.  Starting in the 1970s, hundreds of thousands of Jews left the Soviet Union for New York, many settling in Brighton Beach, which came to be known as “Little Odessa.”

36.   Established in 1927, Kehila Kedosha Janina at 280 Broome St. is the last remaining Greek Jewish synagogue in the Western Hemisphere.

37.  Streit’s Matzo Company, the last remaining neighborhood matzo factory, stands at 148-150 Rivington St. (Moved to 20 Knickerbocker Road, Moonachie, New Jersey 07074 in 2016.)

38.  The oldest Orthodox Jewish Russian congregation in the United States, Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, is still active at 60 Norfolk St.

39.  On the corner of Essex and Rutgers, down the street from the original Forvitz building on Seward Park, the Garden Cafeteria served as a gathering place for Jewish actors, artists and playwrights such as Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer from 1941 to 1983. It became Wing Shing, a Chinese restaurant, in 1985, and now houses Reena Spaulings Fine Art.

40.  Seward Park on the Lower East Side was created in 1900. New immigrants worked in the park’s artisan market, and on special occasions such as elections, thousands gathered in the park to watch the Forvitz’s flashing news sign in Yiddish.

41. Jewish gangs rose to prominence during the Prohibition; at a conference in New York in 1931, Jewish gangsters agreed to partner with Italian Americans, and together remained the most dominant groups in organized crime until several decades after WWII.

42.   After an appeal from a New York judge, Nathan Perlman, Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky and members of Murder Inc. broke up Nazi rallies around the city for over a year, with the one stipulation that there be no killing.

43.  Lines of a sonnet by Sephardic poet Emma Lazarus, who was born in New York City in 1847, are inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

44.  The house that stands at 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn is the center and spiritual home of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Formerly inhabited by Chabad’s late leader Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Lubavitchers have built replicas of the building all over the world to serve as movement outposts.

45. The first Reform congregation in New York City, Temple Emanu-El, was founded in 1845 by 33 mostly German Jews, and moved to its present location in 1929. Members have included Joan Rivers and Michael Bloomberg.

46.  As large numbers of German Jews fleeing Nazi persecution made their homes in Washington Heights in the mid-1930s, the area was dubbed “Frankfurt on the Hudson.”

47.  Sweet ‘n’ Low was invented in 1957 in Brooklyn by Benjamin Eisenstaedt.

48.  Bronx-born Milton Glaser designed the “I  ___ NY” logo in 1977.     

49.  Eight
​H​a ​s​sidic dynasties are headquartered in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

50. Outside of Israel, New York City is home to the largest population of Jews in the world.

51.  As of 2011, 1 in 6 households in New York were Jewish.

 


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 20, 2017, 11:53:44 AM
To reply to Ginny's post:

"he likes to prod and argue, he likes to make people think by stirring them up provocatively. Does that happen a lot?"

It sure does! We are an argumenting  people. They say that if three people meet in the street they will start straigh away arguing in three different directing, have three distinct views on any topic chosen.  It seems to be implanted in the genes! And of course each is totally sure he has the right view and has to proclaim it.  Maybe that is what motivates Shmuel. It is an Israeli trait I think.

I never heard the term linkie, but then English is not my mother tongue...

Many of the 'learned' people, those who were educated in yeshivas and learning almost exclusively about the Torah, the Bible, the so many commandments and rules that govern daily life, these do feel themselves superior or above the 'commoners'  as if they have a special channel to God.  I see that for example in the ultra-religious refusing to do military service, saying that their prayers in time of need are more important than going to the front. God will protect... 

If Shmuel is right or wrong trying to educate, that is a question of opinion.  He himself feels an obligation to do it.

Pilpul is useful at times, making you see things more sharply by having different opinions.

Shmuel is pronounced shmoo-el (el like in elbow) with the accent on the first syllable.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 20, 2017, 12:07:56 PM
Well, I'll be...amazing. Thank you, Bubble. Yes, I loved the way you and the other writers critiqued each other's work on the WREX site. Who's left of the old gang?

That super shtetl on the Hudson should have been renamed New Jerusalem, long ago.

Isn't this fun, Ginny? We'll get around to the book eventually. There's no doubt in my mind that Shmuel wished to be, and others thought of him as such, like one of the Biblical prophets of old: reforming, teaching, admonishing, but without honor in his own country. "Linkie", I take, as mening 'leftist', as in Marxist, or Communist.

Hongfan, do you think Buddha was Jewish? Settling accounts in the course of lives has something Jewish about it, despite reducing the procedure to only two, the here and the hereafter. At any rate, it reminds me of a book on my shelf I've been meaning to read: A Jewish Mother in Shangri-la, by Rosie Rosenzweig. It begins with:'An old joke tells of a Jewish woman who treks to the Himalayas to seek an audience with a guru sitting in seclusion on a mountaintop. When at last she comes before him, she implores: Sheldon, come home.'

Bellamarie, at 88, I'm like the old man. I love having young people around. My idea of heaven would be a little house, across the street from the playground of an elementary school.

If you want something by God, be friendly to his people.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 20, 2017, 12:26:16 PM
Wonderful! The Old Testament was Shmuel's Iliad, his Odyssey and his Virgel. Full of heroes!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 20, 2017, 01:05:14 PM
Jonathan, Dr Haseltine was the last to post his stories in S&F and after a while, with no one else participating, he just quit. He was not posting in any other discussions.
Yes Wrex was a fun experience.

Here you could volunteer in a kindergarten and be the local 'grandpa' to the kids, some who never had grand parents. It is a great experience for (sometimes lonely) seniors as well as for the children.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 20, 2017, 05:08:25 PM
Hongfan, do you think Buddha was Jewish?

haha, Jonathan, it's cute and I like it. Actually Sheldon could be at Jerusalem and Himalayas at the same time. In 1905's paper, Einstein already showed light is a particle AND a wave, which means it could be at one location (property of particle) or could be at many locations simultaneously (property of wave). Since then experiments have shown this particle duality could also be applicable to objects that are much larger size, and eventually I think one day they may find a way to prove that at the physical size of human being, this wave property still holds true - didn't we have a lot of those bilocation tales (a human being appearing in two places simultaneously) - Pythagoras was said to be seen at two places simultaneously, I knew some buddhist monks were reported this way, and seems there is also such reports in Jewish literature?

On the related theme, they say the biggest organism on the earth is a fungus in Oregon (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-largest-organism-is-fungus/), which is about 1665 football field large. It is all underground so you cannot see the fungus, but you see the mushrooms spread around that come out of this same fungus. If you don't know they are all connected below the ground, you would think they are mushrooms from different roots (well they can be 1000 football fields away, who would think they are from the same plant?)

We are likely those mushrooms, all connected at some level (I don't want to say we are all fungus, hahaha). From this perspective, I particularly like Shmuel's attitude towards not harming any life  - he said something about holocaust - that it was not only Hitler who committed suicide, it was the whole human species committed suicide -  that I can resonate with whole heartedly.

(Sorry I don't have the book at hand to type in - and Ginny, thank you for having typed in those quotes for me, I will remember to get on with that good habit).

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 20, 2017, 06:13:56 PM
while Sephardi speak Ladino, which apparently is the medieval Castilian spoken then in Spain

Is this Ladino in any way linked to Latin?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 20, 2017, 08:13:05 PM
Phew......  I just finished reading Shmuel's chapter, and all of your posts, and I am just blown away!!!  I can barely take it all in. I shall begin with loving how Shmuel relates to the prophet Jeremiah. 

pg. 50  "Shame on you, I tell him.  'Are you proud of that?  Do you think that's not a man lying there?  Are we less brutes than them?  In the Talmud it warns us not to treat even our enemies this way.'  To him I quoted this: '...You have tuned justice into poison, the fruit of righteousness into wormwood.'  From Jeremiah, the prophet."   I suppose they didn't thank you for your opinion,"  I remarked. 

"What could I expect them to say?  Should they thank me?  My presence pierces them like a polished arrow.  This happened also to our prophets, especially to Jeremiah.  With him I felt a great kinship always.  "They hate him who reproves at the gate.  They abhor him who speaks the truth.'  At least, I have the satisfaction of knowing I am in good company." 


Oh my, I am just simply in awe of Shmuel!  I love how he says:

pg. 46 "But I am not a Jew like my father.  He believed blindly.  For me, acts more than beliefs make a Jew.  Judaism means you know yourself, your traditions, your history, you live them.  To be a good human being, in the Jewish way, to believe in life, to believe in humanity, to follow the Ten Commandments, that is enough to be a good Jew."

So let me pose this question to anyone who is comfortable to answer it, yet not intending a debate....  Do you believe in your chosen religion "blindly", as Shmuel mentions?   And isn't faith about believing without seeing, which would appear, to be  "blind faith."

Hebrew 11:1  KJV  "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

This chapter is packed with so many great quotes.  I seriously felt like I was sitting at my church's Bible Study group discussing the Bible with all my fellow members reading this chapter.  Shmuel will stay with me far beyond the ending of this book and discussion.

Jonathan, you and I are more alike than I ever expected.  I, like you, would also love to live across the street of an elementary school just to sit and watch the children at play during recess time from my window, seeing the joy on their faces, and listen to the squeals of laughter.  Kenzie and her family just moved across the street from Frank Elementary school this past week end.  She is hoping to get to be assigned to do her student teaching in August at this school.  I hope you get your little piece of heaven one day, Jonathan.  As we have learned in this chapter from Shmuel, we need to live life each day, not wait for the perfect timing.

Bubble I am so glad you are here with us to help us along.  So, can I ask you a question, and if you don't know or don't want to answer it is perfectly okay with me.  When Shmuel said he did NOT believe in God, he was an agnostic, (which kind of shocked me for some reason) how does the Jewish synagogue feel about Jews who do not believe in God?  I know with Catholics we believe that we are to do our very best to inform and educate others about God and our Apostolic Creed, which is to believe in the Blessed Trinity.  Is there such a thing as with the Catholic church as excommunicating someone from the synagogue? 

This chapter is so packed with things to discuss I will have to take a break and let it all sink in and post again tomorrow.  I'm feeling overwhelmed and saddened all at the same time after finishing this chapter. 

Ginny,  You were correct in assuming we have not all had the chance to finish reading the chapter.  I can assure you as they do finish you will be hearing from them. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 20, 2017, 10:24:05 PM
Spinoza was excommunicated. He was taken in by my anscestors who were protestant, evangelicals - as a boarder. No effort was made to convert him - not to my knowledge. Some of my family has now returned to the Catholic fold.  I love going to mass, especially when my granddaughters are part of the ritual.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 21, 2017, 06:35:09 AM

Bubble I am so glad you are here with us to help us along.  So, can I ask you a question, and if you don't know or don't want to answer it is perfectly okay with me.  When Shmuel said he did NOT believe in God, he was an agnostic, (which kind of shocked me for some reason) how does the Jewish synagogue feel about Jews who do not believe in God?  I know with Catholics we believe that we are to do our very best to inform and educate others about God and our Apostolic Creed, which is to believe in the Blessed Trinity.  Is there such a thing as with the Catholic church as excommunicating someone from the synagogue? 

Shmuel does not believe on God, but it seems that he knows his Bible by heart and follow many of its precepts.
He would have no problem going to a synagogue and no one would boot him out. I don't think Synagogues are as organized with strict rules like a church would be.  Many' neighborhood' synagogues here are just a prayer room in any apartment building - many in its shelter .  That is because you are not allowed to wall a long distance on the Shabbat.  I think there is a fixed number of steps but I really don't know.
It is not necessary to have a rabbi to conduct the service, one only need to have a quorum of 10 males.
I never heard or read about excommunicating someone from the synagogue, on the other hand some would object to a person disturbing the prayers with disparaging comments, but that is certainly not an excommunicating.

I read a quote today:
Life has no meaning a priori. ... It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose. -Jean-Paul Sartre, writer and philosopher (21 Jun 1905-1980)

I think that for Shmuel, this apply to religion. God has no meaning for him.   He respect the sanctity of life and in his acts or interacting he seems to follow the commandments, but it is from his personal beliefs, not from what is ordered by God. I seem to agree with him.


while Sephardi speak Ladino, which apparently is the medieval Castilian spoken then in Spain

Is this Ladino in any way linked to Latin?

Ladino is a  Romance language as is French or Italian.  So many roots are similar and of Latin origin.
Unfortunately I don't remember enough Latin to give examples.
But Donkey in  modern Spanish is burro.  In Ladino (and old Castilian) it is asino, which in latin would be asinus.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 21, 2017, 06:40:31 AM
Jonathan, how can girls be part of the mass ritual? That surprises me, as I thought only boys could be choir boys or such.  Unless of course you refer to communion.

In the Catholic church, women could not conduct or serve the mass, right? Very similar to the orthodox religion here, where even at the Western Wall, men and women cannot pray together.
 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 21, 2017, 12:27:38 PM
Yes, thank you, Bubble. The girls served as altar-boys when they were younger. It's only a matter of time until women will serve as priests. Just as women are serving as rabbis in some Jewish congregations - not so? Thanks to you, I have a much better understanding of Shmuel's role in the community.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 21, 2017, 04:22:09 PM
I've got dilated eyes but I'll be back. Looks like a lot of great thoughts here, tho! Can't wait to focus on them. :)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 21, 2017, 06:01:48 PM
I'm loving this chapter - I love the ideas the ethics the philosophy shared by Shmuel - I can't help wonder if Fiddler on the Roof came first or after this book was published - what ever, the scenes must be a common composite of the European and Russian Jewish nineteenth century experience.

Still have 15 pages to read - hope to finish reading tonight.

Not sure i understand what all the information shared about NY is about - I had to double read to be sure and yes, this story takes place in California not NYC, so why, what did I miss?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 21, 2017, 08:02:24 PM
 I am, too, Barbara. It's so refreshing to find somebody talking about things that matter instead of Matt Lauer and the Bachelorette or whatever it is. I am like Bellamarie, it blew me away.

And I am loving saying his name properly, thank you Bubble!

That's a good question on NYC, I'll defer to Bubble who submitted it.  But it's good. I have to keep reminding myself, too, that we're talking about CA not NY, perhaps the Ashkenazi are the same everywhere, it certainly is beginning to look like it.

Ann had mentioned that she bet the Center was gone and that the location was Venice Beach. I don't suppose any of you are from that area or have been in it? I'd like to know the status now of the Jewish  community there.

Bubble and Bellamarie, as Bellamarie says  Shumuel said he was an Agnostic? That one is open to proof of the existence of God if it is provided to him, it's not like an Atheist, I think.

Bubble, you said English is not your first language, how interesting. Do you mind saying what is?

It looks like, tho, even in their humble (would you say it was humble?) existence things have really changed there in the last 32 years. It seems (page 48) there was a Chorus and all kinds of reading and discussion groups which have moved downtown and now are too hard to get to..."too hard to take buses after dark."
 
You have to wonder how this affects our retirees in the book.  And this makes me wonder about ageing in general...this loss of activities that we once thought nothing of going to, and which we enjoy, the "benches" in our own lives we enjoy participating in. How many of those activities  depend on our driving our own car?  Taking a bus after dark does not appeal to me, (but to be honest I don't live on any bus route way out here),  and they're both a lot older than I am. This one thing makes me think that retirement centers do have a place.  They provide transportation and other interesting people to talk to and be with, and things to do.  I do think that's important, do you?

If you are 40 years old and live in NYC you probably don't drive a car or even consider it, the rental for parking alone would impoverish a rich man,  so you can take all kinds of public transport (I'm writing about NYC because I can't speak to Venice Beach, CA, but I think it's the same anywhere in any town)...If you are 85 years old and live in NYC, you have the world of museums, entertainment, plays, everything on earth anybody could wish for, but you still have to get there, like Basha, on the bus or pay a driver.  If you live anywhere in the US you still have to GET where you want to go. I wonder how much this one thing: GETTING AROUND, matters in the overall scheme of retirement issues?

What do you think? If you have your health and enough to live on in your old age, what's the ONE thing you need the most after that? Can you get it living where you are?

We want to talk about the issues of ageing,  too,  to find a commonality in this as we learn how these folks are dealing with it. So far it seems Shumel has a very powerful spirit that keeps him singing in the shower each morning.  What would happen to him if he had no Center to go to?

How important do you think that spirit IS?

(Oh and I did go back on the Interstate the next day at 11 am and it was nothing. When you don't do something for a month it's scary. Interstates are scary, but now it's nothing.  I wonder what that says about adaptation in general).


I   thought this was quite something by Shumel: "For me, acts more than beliefs make a Jew. Judaism means you know yourself, your traditions, your history, you life them. To be a good human being, in the Jewish way, to believe in life, to believe in humanity, to follow the Ten Commandments, that is enough to be a good Jew."

That's beautiful.  I'm sorry there was nobody to dialogue with Shumel, and draw him out further on this subject, particularly of the Ten Commandments. I wonder what he meant by "in the Jewish way," what he saw as "the Jewish way."  Anybody have any ideas?

But he's gone.


Page 44: "You wouldn't know this but it gives out in the Bible that a pawnbroker cannot keep a poor man's caftan or cloak for deposit or for pawn overnight, because a Jew can't profit from someone else's need. 'You shall not sleep in his pledge, that he may sleep n his own cloak.' This comes from Deuteronomy, which no doubt you have not read."

You have to admire somebody who knows the tenets of his faith so well. How many of us could have quoted that passage without looking it up first? Had you ever heard of it?



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 22, 2017, 01:23:21 AM
Ginny, I did say that we used to go Venice Beach on the weekend when we lived in that area. It's like going to a street fair.  All kinds of goodies for sale!  Also, there was an older lady down there only on the weekends who was a terrific skateboarder.  Fantastic moves! Since we lived there in the late '80's, I do doubt that the center was there. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 22, 2017, 08:37:29 AM
It looks like there's something there.

Whether it's the same thing I don't know.


"Welcome to the Shul on the Beach!

We invite you to visit our historic Synagogue on the Venice Boardwalk.
Throughout the year, a vibrant community of all ages enjoys a wide range of educational, celebrative, and spiritual experiences. We welcome Jews of every background to join our “user friendly” traditional Orthodox services and celebrations."

"All services are at the historic Shul on the Beach
505 Ocean Front Walk - Venice Beach
Located at a convenient walking distance from both
Santa Monica and Marina del Rey.

For questions, please call:
https://pjcenter.shulcloud.com/"


and


"Hospitality

Whether you're just visiting or live in the area, the members of Pacific Jewish Center have a reputation for warmth, passion, and great food. If you are around and want to share  Shabbat or Yom Tov meals with members of the community, please contact our hospitality committee by calling or emailing the office.

It is our great pleasure to welcome all our visitors. If you are in LA for business or pleasure, we hope that your trip goes well and we are delighted to provide the venue for Shabbat on your trip. We are always grateful, as a small Shul, for any support we receive."

https://pjcenter.shulcloud.com/
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 22, 2017, 08:46:31 AM
I found this on a website (when somebody starts out like that you know something possibly dubious is coming) called Judaism 101:

And I'd like to know if it's accurate?

Synagogues, Shuls and Temples

Level: Basic
   
• A Jewish "church" is called a synagogue, shul or temple
• A synagogue is a place of worship and study, and a "town hall"
• Synagogues are run by laypeople and financed by membership dues
• There are several important ritual items found in the synagogue
• Non-Jews may visit a synagogue, but dress and should behave appropriately
• The Temple is the ancient center of Jewish worship where sacrifices were performed

The synagogue is the Jewish equivalent of a church, more or less. It is the center of the Jewish religious community: a place of prayer, study and education, social and charitable work, as well as a social center.

http://www.jewfaq.org/shul.htm
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 22, 2017, 09:07:51 AM
Ginny, yes that is a good  description of a synagogue, ' Synagogues are run by laypeople and financed by membership dues' .
It could also be used/rented as a hall for receiving people after a wedding or a bar mitzva and having a buffet there.

About your Shul on the beach, I can tell you it is a Askenazi synagogue
8:00 pm Shabbos Chodesh Tammuz Dinner
The pronunciation Shabbos for Shabbat  denotes that.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 22, 2017, 09:18:34 AM
Ginny and Jane, I just sent a link to the About Us section of your link. Wish I could go back to see what they are doing. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 22, 2017, 09:19:29 AM
Well for heaven's sake who knew? Thank you!

And Ann writes that if we penetrate deeper into the webpage, that we can find  "the history of the old center and how it was saved." 

You all might be interested in reading the About Us history on that page, thank you, Ann.


http://pjcenter.shulcloud.com/about-us.html
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 22, 2017, 10:29:28 AM
Bubble
Quote
In the Catholic church, women could not conduct or serve the mass, right?

Things have changed greatly where women are concerned since Vatican II.  Women/girls are allowed to be servers on the altar not just boys any more.  Women are allowed to do the readings and distribute communion, and interestingly enough the year my mother was dying in hospital, I missed our Ash Wednesday service, our nun Sr. Myra was able to give my sister and I ashes on our forehead.
Jonathan, you could be right in saying it's a matter of time before women are allowed to become deacons and priests, I just don't see it happening in the next decade or so.  I think there are very few times in today's practices where excommunication takes place.  I was just curious where the Jewish practices stood on Shmuel not believing in God.

Barb, to clarify for you the talk of NY, I confused my book I just finished reading with this book as far as where it was taking place and mentioned NY. 

Ginny
Quote
And this makes me wonder about ageing in general...this loss of activities that we once thought nothing of going to, and which we enjoy, the "benches" in our own lives we enjoy participating in. How many of those activities  depend on our driving our own car?  Taking a bus after dark does not appeal to me, (but to be honest I don't live on any bus route way out here),  and they're both a lot older than I am. This one thing makes me think that retirement centers do have a place.  They provide transportation and other interesting people to talk to and be with, and things to do.  I do think that's important, do you?

I wonder how much this one thing: GETTING AROUND, matters in the overall scheme of retirement issues?

I have to share with you my family friend Mariyln, who I mentioned in my earlier post, who a year ago began living in an elderly center who had a birthday yesterday at the center.  We were first having a lunch for her at a very nice restaurant, but she did not end up coming.  She has gotten so comfortable in her new environment she did not want to leave, not to mention she had the party to look forward to later which was a huge bash.  Here are a few pics I want to share to give you an idea of what their "benches" are like for gathering at the center, and how so many family and friends had the entire "boardwalk" so to speak to celebrate her special day with her.

http://s1382.photobucket.com/user/Marie_Patterfritz_Reinhart/media/19274889_10154845278487523_959442439899946902_n_zps8igulyu3.jpg.html?sort=3&o=3

http://s1382.photobucket.com/user/Marie_Patterfritz_Reinhart/media/19417499_10154845280137523_2771867152371831586_o_zpsoriffcyc.jpg.html?sort=3&o=2

http://s1382.photobucket.com/user/Marie_Patterfritz_Reinhart/media/19390580_10154845279672523_391948366503931134_o_zpsiluaub3x.jpg.html?sort=3&o=1

Marilyn has always been a very independent woman.  She was a nurse until retirement, owns a huge home on a beautiful lake in Michigan just an hour away from where she lives in Ohio.  Since moving into the center she has now become so comfortable with the activities, people, surroundings etc., that she has not been leaving as much as she used to.  Her family is more than happy to pick her up and bring her back, but they decided to have the party at the center since she did not want to leave.  This concerned them a bit, but it made me wonder......... in ageing do the elderly become more resistant to leaving their places of comfort?  I know my Grandmother rarely got out of her house and visited as she aged, we all came to visit her.  If my Mom could talk her into coming to our house she would get fidgety and want to go home.  But then I read where so many of you members are still traveling aboard and moving to other states and it seems not all elderly do need and want that level of comfort.  I wonder where I will fall in this in a few years, considering we are thinking of selling our home after being here since 1984.

Ginny, I do believe the "getting around" as we age has EVERYTHING to do with where we will live, and how much activities we will be able to participate in.

 
 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 22, 2017, 11:57:58 AM
As Bellamarie said in an earlier post - so many topics in this chapter - I like Abe's eulogy saying, Shmuel was "a man whose religion was the brotherhood of all people" not only for the thought but, how well it described Shmuel. This thought was an extension of, on page 73 when he says about the perpetrators of the "grievous blow", "They lost their humanity, we lost only our people and our way of life."

And it fits that Shmuel should think he is an agnostic - if he accepted and believed in the God described by many, he could not question and for Shmuel he questioned everything - as the author says, "He was a man searching, always searching in everything that went on for what life is about." 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 22, 2017, 12:14:39 PM
Before we leave this chapter I must make a note of each of the fantastic quotes Shmuel and Myerhoff gave us to ponder in our lives:

pg. 41  "Don't try to make them (people) stand still for your convenience.  You don't ever know them.  Let people surprise you.  This likewise you could do concerning yourself."

pg. 42  "Many people believe taking their picture captures their soul, and taking a life story is even more threatening."

pg. 44   "A coat is not a piece of cloth only.  The tailor is connected to the one who wears it an he should not forget it."
"The mind must be alive when you sew, if you are in a good shop or bad.  The outside conditions do not apply.  You must bring it
 up from the inside, looking always for a way to express yourself."


pg. 47  " The man who doesn't like his work is a slave, a slave to boredom..... in my life I have never been bored.  If you cannot tell a story to yourself when you are sewig, your are lost anyway.  The work has no beginning and no end, but the story is told, it goes on in the head.  A needle goes in and out.  You hold a thread in your fingers.  It goes to the garment, to the fingers, to the one who wears the garment, all connected.  This is what matters, not whether you are paid for what you do."

pg. 48  "It is a fact of life to be hurt by your children.  It doesn't matter how good they are.  That must be accepted, so if you have only your children in life, you will have only pain.  And after the children__it's still no-man's-land on the other side."

pg.  49 "Only life itself is sacred, not a nation."

pg.  54  " But people are formed by their passions, in the same ways, no matter how small or big is the place they live."

pg.  57  "I would rather see life in a way that is full of color, also full of shade, because without the shade we don't have the color."

pg.  64  " You know we have a saying, 'Az ikh ve zayn vi er, ver vet zayn vi ikh?"  Translated that means, "If I should be someone else, who would be me?"

pg.  67  "We boys would make a similar equation with drinking tea"The spoon, that is the man, the glass the woman.  We bring them together.  That's a union, so with the Lord and Israel."

pg.  71  "When you change your place, you change your luck."

pg.  73  "Although Hitler committed suicide, it was actually mankind who committed suicide, and this can never be undone."
"They lost their humanity, we lost only our people and our way of life."

pg.  75  "We must stay involved to the last minute."

pg.  76  "Shmuel was like a fine cloak, everything well-stitched together, good strong seams, cloth not fine but not cheap, long-lasting.  Himself, he was also like a needle-sharp, practical, quick, jabbing people sometimes because that was necessary.  He was a little man with a big history behind him."

"He made anything that was ordinary into something special in this way." 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 22, 2017, 02:09:43 PM
Ginny, I was born in the Belgian Congo - Zaire - now Democratic Republic of Congo. So my mother tongue is French.

About retirement homes - they do not attract me much: I much prefer being in a younger surrounding if possible!
But lately I have come to realize it does suit some persons.
I have a neighbor who lost his wife about 5y ago.  He always was a difficult man but  he became irascible, and unbearable rude. The he went downhill and was a public danger driving.  He was particularly scary when parking parallel to my car. One day he even parked so close that I could not even open the door, not even mentioning that I need  a wide space to access it with my wheelchair (and there are bold  white lines drawn on the pavement). My daughter asked him to move his car - he refused and said: you can call the police, I am not moving. etc. etc.
To cut it short, I did mention it to social services and they arranged for him to go every morning to a club similar to the one in our story.
You would not believe how the company of others, the entertainment, the meals he receive, all that made a drastic change.  Now he dresses properly, shave, and wait on time downstairs for the transport to take him.

Bellamaria - thanks for elaborating on the changes in the Catholic church.  It sounded so different from the school run by nuns where I did all my schooling.

.. in ageing do the elderly become more resistant to leaving their places of comfort?
 
This is certainly true for me. It tires me to travel now, although I liked it very much in the past. I still wish I could go around the world and visit the many friends I have  all over
                           
                     

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 22, 2017, 03:37:58 PM
Thank you, Bellamarie. Fifteen super quotes. Is it any wonder that Myerhoff found him irrisistable and gave him a whole chapter. And yet I think Shmuel was a very confused old man. Almost as if the author is saying: 'this is what age can do to one.'

Shmuel himself admits: "I am finding myself carried back and back...I cannot  say goodbye to all that'...and we get a glorious picture of long ago (p73) What can you say about someone who felt that the needle was the greatest invention ever? And the thing he was most proud of? He never, in all his life, crossed a picket line. And Rebecca, his wife, is still working with migrant workers and has no time for The Center, where Shmuel himself is a persona non grata. Everything about this story is so Jewish. Just as Shmuel would have it.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 23, 2017, 07:25:24 AM
”Everything about this story is so Jewish

Jonathan, what do you mean by "so Jewish"?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 23, 2017, 07:46:39 AM
Jonathan, what a provocative statement, And yet I think Shmuel was a very confused old man. Almost as if the author is saying: 'this is what age can do to one.'   You always astound me.

I read that last night because I have to go out early today and I like to think about what you've all said for a while.

Is this the reason you feel that way?

What can you say about someone who felt that the needle was the greatest invention ever? And the thing he was most proud of? He never, in all his life, crossed a picket line. And Rebecca, his wife, is still working with migrant workers and has no time for The Center, where Shmuel himself is a persona non grata. Everything about this story is so Jewish. Just as Shmuel would have it.

I don't see him that way, and what you said is a terrific point. But why do I hear Frank Sinatra singing?  I don't like Frank  Sinatra and never did.



For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

I'll tell you what I see. He's near the end (actually he's kind of playing out the song in it's entirety, he's facing the final curtain, etc. I just noticed that. )  "My friend, I'll make it clear, I'll state my case of which I'm certain..."


I see a man who is taking stock of his life and making something of what he has done.  Forced to leave his beloved home, move to a new country, and to take up a trade to make a living in a new world, he took what he was given and made, to him, a world out of it.  Bloom where you are planted? Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all  thy might?

He might have been a tailor, like so many other Jewish immigrants, but he was a good one. He that is faithful in little is faithful in much.  His needle connected worlds, the person who made the garment and the person who wore it. He was proud of the work the did and he never betrayed that work by crossing a picket line. It's a statement of ethics and honor.

If he does have children, they have hurt him. Probably because of his unbending ways, or what he sees as his life ethic. He's got his scripture, he's got his wife, he has what he needs. He's got enough to sing in the shower.  He's looking at what he's managed to do over his entire lifetime and he's found what he feels proudest of having accomplished in that small paragraph you mentioned. He  keeps remembering his father and his homeland and his past.  I think that's normal for a person at the end of their lives, I hope I don't know that yet, but I've seen that a lot.

He's taken the sum of his own existence and found it good: he's still got his own integrity: he hasn't sold out.

Now the $64,000 question IS:  IS that foolish? IS that enough?

THAT is a question for all of us. What do you all think?





Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 23, 2017, 07:48:26 AM
I've got to leave now but I have a lot more to say  about what you've all said. I'm thinking about Bubble now (ZAIRE? I've got to hear more about that!)  and traveling,  Bellamarie's friend not wanting to leave her new retirement home, and the issues of independence.  I love these book  discussions, I really do. I'll be back tonight.

Bellamarie, I am not able to see the photos, would you please use the URL's that start [IMG ] which  Photobucket  provides and post them here? If they are too big I can resize them later on when I get back in. I'd like to see them.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 23, 2017, 09:56:19 AM
Jonahan
Quote
And yet I think Shmuel was a very confused old man. Almost as if the author is saying: 'this is what age can do to one.'

I saw quite the opposite of Shmuel.  He is very intelligent, clear minded and reminiscing at the end, of all that he held near and dear to his heart.

Oh Ginny I could never have found the profound words you did about Shmuel, but I am so grateful you did!  What a PERFECT song to fit to Shmuel..... I Did It My WaY!!

I found him as a man of integrity, loyal to himself, proud of his accomplishment of becoming a tailor in the New World which provided his wife and son a good home, and is still helping by sending the grandchildren money.  He is/was a man who had wisdom to know what he has lived through and to make his life better in spite of it.  The fact he was willing to sit with Myerhoff, to share his story, shows what a wonderful human being he is/was, and at the end this just moved me beyond words...

pg. 74  "We'll see.  Now, maidele, go home with all this package of stories.  I'm tired."  Shmuel had never used an affectionate term to me before.  I was touched by it, but remembering his discomfort with my "exaggeration,"  I refrained from telling him how much all this meant to me.

pg. 75  Three days later Rebekah called to tell me that Shmuel had died peacefully in his sleep two nights before.

We can't all travel the world, we can't all learn many different languages, trades and skills, we can't all do the things that others look at and say, "Wow they led a fulfilled life!"  Some of us are happy with our one skill, our one place we call home, our family and faith.  That's what I saw in Shmuel.  Rebekah is his yin to his yang.  Yes, this story is so Jewish, it is a Jewish community of elders who have come to the United States, and share their Jewish heritage and faith, that's the beauty of this story.  I am so honored to get to know more about them and their history and culture through this book and discussion.  It's only chapter one and I am already overwhelmed and excited to learn more.

Bubble
Quote
I much prefer being in a younger surrounding if possible!

I couldn't agree with you more,  I love the vitality of the youth.  I went to a Farmer's Market yesterday with my three granddaughters 21, 14, & 12 yrs old and we walked in the rain, giggled, searched for special flower vases to put our little succulents in, took selfies, and bought kettle popcorn, and I even purchased a baseball cap my granddaughter Kenzie showed me how to wear properly.  Who knew I thought you just place it on your head!    :o ;D  I love my family & friends who are my age as well, but something about being around the youth makes me forget what age I am.  An elderly family friend kept saying to me in the flower shop, "You are so cute, you can't possibly be their grandmother."  I'm supposing she saw that youthfulness come out of me, from being in the presence of my three beautiful young granddaughters.  We all went back to their house and danced around the pool deck with my other granddaughter Zoey who is only 6 yrs old to the song, "I've Got That Sunshine In My Pocket."
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 23, 2017, 11:36:56 AM
I will attempt to post the pics and thank you Ginny for resizing, I have not gotten that part down yet.

This is what I suppose they would consider their outside boardwalk
(https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/19274889_10154845278487523_959442439899946902_n.jpg?oh=6a8a53062deac79b011a4956b4a6d33a&oe=5A11FF29)

She was surrounded by tons of family & friends to celebrate her birthday.
(https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/19417499_10154845280137523_2771867152371831586_o.jpg?oh=de097730329daa986de3931bb882ece7&oe=59DD80CE)

A very happy 88 years young Marilyn in her elderly center.
(https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/19390580_10154845279672523_391948366503931134_o.jpg?oh=1fe2ae1d2122ff7b9d7c47d94c9766b3&oe=59E69110)






Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 23, 2017, 12:06:02 PM
Seems we are each finding in the story of Shmuel something different - for me he is profound - what has haunted me so that I've been struggling, remembering the parts of my life that I prefer to get behind me and get on with having control, is "frozen into speechlessness" ... several times that has been my life - once I did not physically run but believed and really believed my body disappeared and all that was left were my eyes - and next, instead of running I walked but made sure I walked on an angle as if the wind was blowing my eyes then when I was too far into the vacant lot had to figure out a way to make it look like the wind blew my eyes back to the street - there were other times including as a young adult - where I may have not caused the death of another, out of fear I was not as forthright and brave as I wish and was not able to protect - Oh I do not want to go on - but this aspect of the story of Shmuel is a memory struggle. Reading further when Shmuel says the perpetrators of horror "lost their humanity" was a wonderful explanation that I had not heard or come to that thought myself - like the sun coming up in the morning with all the intensity of a red firebrand that is the hot hot summer sun searing windows red and chasing dark-blue shadows that statement seared many a memory.  Ah so... who knew... a tattered old used book would bring me wisdom. So yes, to me Shmeul is profound.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 23, 2017, 12:06:16 PM
As to Jewishness, not sure since there are so many views of being Jewish - Shmeul reminds me of a retired collage professor who never made big dollars but whose life is richer than those in retirement who live on golf courses, or who spend most of their time in country clubs or on their yachts.

As to various views of being Jewish - I live in a part of town with several Jewish families on every street - only 5 streets away is a very large Jewish center, Oak covered acres of several buildings, indoor swimming pool, running trails etc. It is where we often have neighborhood meetings and where the political leaders speak to those of us in this area.

Over the years there has been a huge cultural change - For years previewing homes as a Real Estate Broker the Jewish families who purchased had to have an extra large dining room where as, the houses for sale, the dinning table sat minimum a dozen and more often 16 - and there was always the mezuzah at the front door.

Earlier, as a young women I was doing art - there were many neighbors in the art classes held in a nearby art museum and so we chatted and were in art exhibits together and their children were in scouts as were mine - typical suburban moms. Then about 10 years ago I have no idea what happened, maybe there was a new rabbi - but all of a sudden all these women dressed differently in long black skirts and white blouses, and put on a huge amount of weight. No longer did I see them at the local hair dresser where we all had our perms and nails done and the men, even their young sons, no longer in jeans but where wearing black with some sort of vest like garment with strings hanging on two sides wearing also tall black hats. Everyone was walking and one of the two local grocery stores, each part of a large chain, devoted a section of the store to kosher foods and NONE of the women I knew for years would acknowledge me any longer.

Then observing - an added phenomenon - about the same time as this public show of their faith we had a big influx of folks from India (High Tech towns have this happen) and within a few years we have had a small but steady stream of refugees from the Middle East - down the steep hill (I live on top of a mesa) is the middle school and this group of folks who I assume are Muslims but never asked, have their service on Saturday and they arrive in the most glorious colored silks and veils and the men wearing tunics and jeweled hats - and so walking down the hill past the middle school or using the school yard - (which is not the typical size but several acres that hold a track, a football field without bleaches - several soft ball fields, an outdoor swimming pool, the gardens and still lots and lots of grass area) - on Friday evening we have the now very Jewish folks in their special clothing and then on Saturday morning we have the Asian (India is considered an Asian nation) and the few refugees who are in more somber colors but still exotic dress (most of the Syrian and Afghan refugees in Austin are Christian) walking down to their service - they also shop in the HEB where the section is devoted to Kosher however, they seem to shop late at night when the store is practically empty (11: to midnight) - Talk about the divide among nations - I can do nothing but laugh at how we all cling to our 'tribe' and frankly, I understand but what I do not understand is the need to pridefully display to the community that you are different because of religion rather than, wanting to be a part of the whole so that all I can do is roll my eyes.

I guess it is no different than those who dress a certain way because of their job and then carry that dress into their daily life so that the work identifies the community and everyone shares the way of dress but I am having trouble seeing this over religion that separates - I remember that being an issue for nuns and that all changed during Vatican II - oh I can see the rabbi just as the priest and I am not sure what the religious leader is called among those who attend their service on Saturday but, for the whole religious community to identity dress???... because in this area, now the Jewish women, who no longer work outside the home keep to this dress 7 days a week. Amazing. Even more amazing is there are some Jewish woman I know who live in other areas of town and who do attend service here at the center near my home but who did not change their way of dress and we still talk and see each other as we always have chatting about our children and grands etc. strange... and so there appears to be many ways that Jewish people live and express their Jewishness.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 23, 2017, 02:12:38 PM
Oh Barb! What a thought provoking post! Beautifully presented!  Have you ever asked your old Jewish friends why they dress differently from the stricter Jewish Attendees at the service? Since they all go to the service together?  Do they have different beliefs?  Do they all observe Kosher practices?  Do they dissagree about keeping Kosher in their kitchens?

I was wondering if we all question our past and make judgements about what we did over the years? 

Bu'bl and Bella,
I love having my grans around me frequently and even though I am moving to an independent living place, I have already asked for rides to all local football games plus all the band concerts for the next two years.  I have one more band member to watch graduate from high school! I love my life🤓❤️❤️!  One of my future plans is to be a volunteer helping to take the assisted living folks on their day trips. That's a day out for me,too!  My brother has dimentia and last week he was taken to the Chilldren's Museum in Indy.  My SIL went along and took lots of pics and sent them to me immediately. It was so nice to see all the folks having a good time.
 
Last week, my brother and I  spent much time on the phone, watching the Stanley Cup playoffs and sharing our memories of going to hockey games as kids.  It was a warm expedience! I live in Columbus, Ohio and he's in Indy!



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 23, 2017, 04:30:19 PM
BarbStA., 
Quote
Earlier, as a young women I was doing art - there were many neighbors in the art classes held in a nearby art museum and so we chatted and were in art exhibits together and their children were in scouts as were mine - typical suburban moms. Then about 10 years ago I have no idea what happened, maybe there was a new rabbi - but all of a sudden all these women dressed differently in long black skirts and white blouses, and put on a huge amount of weight, no longer did I see them at the local hair dresser where we all had our perms and nails done and the men, even their young sons, no longer in jeans but where wearing black with some sort of vest like garment with strings hanging on two sides wearing also tall black hats, everyone was walking and one of the two local grocery stores, each part of a large chain, devoted a section of the store to kosher foods and NONE of the women I knew for years would acknowledge me any longer.

This truly saddened me reading the fact the women no longer would acknowledge you.  Have you ever tried to ask why this change happened?   Thank you for sharing all the differences in Jewish behavior and practices you experience and see in your area.  We have a Muslim family living across the street from us, for the first few years they never spoke to anyone.  Recently the young wife with two small children has been talking walks with them, the little 2 yr. old boy has been very friendly to me and my neighbor.  He actually went up to my neighbor lady, said hi and gave her a hug.  The mother does not speak much English, but has attempted to speak with us as best as she can.  My neighbor and I later wondered why the the change in behavior. I know the husband goes back to Syria staying for long lengths of time, so maybe she just wants someone to converse with for a moment or two.

Annie, Good for you for preparing your transportation to all the activities once you move into your independent living center.  The fact that you will remain driving is wonderful.  I'm so sorry to hear your brother is experiencing dementia.  It's nice the two of you were able to talk about things that happened as children.  Marilyn was experiencing some dementia, this is why the family decided it best to have her move into the elderly center.  They are concerned her medication may be causing her some anxiety, which may account for her not wanting to leave or go to her lake any more. 

Yes, Barb, I agree, I see Shmuel as profound, and the thought of him being a retired professor rather suits him, but I could see him not especially liking that, considering how he constantly told Myerhoff she exaggerated.  He was proud to be a tailor and very knowledged in his Torah.  Why do I get the impression he would not have been a big fan of organized education.  Maybe it was the remark he made about his son, himself and his own father.  He was very comfortable with his choice to be a tailor. 

pg.  48  "It's not a disgrace to have a life like this,"  added Shmuel.  "My son a Ph.D, from me, a tailor, son of a tinsmith.  It could be worse.  All of this we have arranged and none of us have ever crossed a picket line."

Besides the fact he was a bit of a rebel, seemed to see everyone else as ignorant, and saw  himself as her refers to on pg. 50  "My presence pierces them like a polished arrow."

One thing I can say, I have a feeling had Shmuel put his mind and desire to it, he would have been a great college professor with much knowledge and wisdom to share.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 23, 2017, 05:44:34 PM
What's 'so Jewish' about the book? I don't know, hongfan. I'm not qualified to say. It's my impression that the author, as an anthropologist is trying to find an answer to that in her study. Jews remind each other that's it's tough to be a Jew. Said in Yiddish it's hard to tell if it's meant as a confession or a kvetch. But as Bellamarie says, it's only Chapter 1. There's more to come. And Ginny is right in hearing the echo of 'I did it my way.

Shmuel seems to be a difficult character. He has enemies at the Center. They spit at him. They throw curses at him. 'He's no good. He's a Jew-hater,' says Hannah.

i don't like thinking of him as confused, but the alternative would be to see him as a fool - in the biblical sense...'the fool sayeth in his heart there is no God.' But Shmuel is no fool, obviously.

'You can see this is no observant home', he tells the author...'My son is a better Jew than me.' And then on the next page: 'It is a fact of life to be hurt by your children.' The son, it seems stays away and Shmuel and Rebekah never get to see their grandsons.

Then again, Jewish politics are incredibly complicated.

Does it seem strange that it took three days for the author to get news of Shmuels death? And why would she make a point of describing Rebekah as sitting 'composed and dry-eyed' at the memorial, while the eulogist was fighting back his tears? That observation was meant to be noticed.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 23, 2017, 06:50:22 PM
I've noticed this is typical of most older widows - I wrote a poem about the face and composure of my dear friend after her husband of just over 60 years passed...

Receiving At His Wake

Her eyes, (tutelary spirits)
Guard drifting sky webs,
Drink mist drops of memory.
Her threaded face ebbs
Inward; pale lips mime
The speaking, her reality,
The murmurs of breathed
Eulogies that generously
Float while she sits erect
Pretending to reflect
Their ache, as her worried
Heart hunts a lost butterfly.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: JoanK on June 23, 2017, 08:34:34 PM
I don't have the book, but Path says I must look in, and comment, since there is so much close to my experiences.  am not Jewish, but my husband was, and  have lived in several places that were primarily Jewish, including Israel and Brooklyn.  hooped, skipped and jumped through earlier posts, missing a lot, but picking up some nuggets along the way.

Jonathan's comment "this book is so Jewish" :what does it mean? There is an (Ashkenazi) Jewish American culture: hard to describe, but you recognize it's flavor when you see (or read)it. it may include Yiddish words, like kvetch, but  think it's predominant trait is it's sense of humor. (it's no accident that so many comedians are Jewish.) t is a unique sense of humor that laughs, not only at things that are funny, but at the tragedy and irony of life, and always laughs with you, not at you (we are all in this crazy soup of life together - i 'd rather have mama's chicken soup).

To  get a sense of it, and learn some Yiddish at the same time. try Leo Rosten's book "The Joys of Yiddish." (I see it's been "updated -- don't know if that's good or bad).

r read Sholem  Aleichem.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: JoanK on June 23, 2017, 08:45:45 PM
On Jewish agnostics: my husband was one, and I suspect there are many. Judaism encourages people o study and interpret the Bible: of course people come to many different conclusions about it. But like Smuel, both the oral precepts and the culture of Judaism were very important to my husband, as was the precept of using his life to make the world a better place.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: JoanK on June 23, 2017, 08:58:45 PM
On a different topic, I noted Ginny's comment:

" but old age brings with it a lot of self concerns. Maybe we need a new word for "selfish." Look at how Basha wakes up. Does this move today? Does that hurt today? She has to go to the store, can she make it? "

That's exactly right. Just to get through the day requires much more work, planning etc. than for a younger person,  and special occasions may require the time and attention of several family members. This means thinking about yourself a lot, but is it selfish?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 24, 2017, 09:51:44 AM
Right.  You may not be being selfish; you want to make the generous gesture, but don't have enough steam left to do it.
Title: "Old age itself is a theme for heroism. It calls upon courage."
Post by: ginny on June 24, 2017, 10:26:51 AM
JoanK!!! Welcome, welcome! I am so glad to see you here!

I don't think it does. "Selfish" by definition seems to mean to the disregard of others, if I read that definition correctly:

:  concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself :  seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

2
:  arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others a selfish act


If you have to do something in order to even start moving then yes you have to concentrate on yourself for a bit SO that you can accommodate and enjoy others. I can't see that as selfish. Margaret Drabble seems to have a very dark eye when it comes to looking at the world. She kind of reminds me of reading Rabbit Run. Great book, can't put it down but why does the world look so bleak and  DARK and why have I become so cynical since I picked it up?

I did like this, too: it may include Yiddish words, like kvetch, but  think it's predominant trait is it's sense of humor. (it's no accident that so many comedians are Jewish. I've been thinking of humor since I started. I've been to a lot of shows featuring comedians who used Yiddish. I had no earthly idea what they were saying but I learned fast to laugh along, too, hahahaa I've laughed at a lot of things I had no idea what was said, but everybody was having such a harmless and happy  good time I hated not to join in.   I think I'll look for that  Rosten book, I've heard of it, thank you for that.

One of the funniest routines I ever saw was Billy Cristal's show about his uncle who had an...well you've heard the expression "old fart?" Again excuse the language, if you ever get a chance to see his monologue you can barely hear it for the hysterical laughter from the audience, but it's one of recognition.

Joan K, you,  too, lived in Israel. I think that's fascinating. Did you stay long?

How long have you been in Israel,  Bubble? If you don't mind my asking.  Are either of you familiar with the saying "next year in Israel?" If you are, would you mind saying what it means?

What lovely photos, Bellamarie! Your friend Marilyn, if that's she with the cake, is gorgeous.  Are you sure she's 88? I don't look that good now! She's got  good good genes, she will probably be here long after we're gone and in high spirits, too.

Bellamarie said: This concerned them a bit, but it made me wonder......... in ageing do the elderly become more resistant to leaving their places of comfort?  I know my Grandmother rarely got out of her house and visited as she aged, we all came to visit her.  If my Mom could talk her into coming to our house she would get fidgety and want to go home.  But then I read where so many of you members are still traveling aboard and moving to other states and it seems not all elderly do need and want that level of comfort.  I wonder where I will fall in this in a few years, considering we are thinking of selling our home after being here since 1984

Now that is a good question. What do you all think? I'd like to know the answer. That is, if we're honest, the $64,000 question and it goes right back to the issues we started with.

How do we look at this? Naturally one is more comfortable at home in familiar surroundings. One has what one needs, no matter what it is, to a certain extent. Marilyn's decision to stay in her new surroundings which she finds comfortable and manageable and pleasant might not be the decision of old age but a decision of practicality.  But how do they differ?  We take for granted that we will be the same for the next 30 years, definitely, no change. We may be from a family of long lived people, and even if not, we're still here. Look at all those 90 year olds running marathons, climbing mountains. We expect to be able to do that, if we want to, even IF we don't run now. There's that 100 year old woman who took up jogging and now runs marathons since  her 90's. Plenty of time for us to begin. Later.

But in the blink of an eye, things change, we change,  and we have to adapt or...I guess that's why they say old age is not for sissies.

Margaret Drabble actually said something complimentary about this, when she said "Old age itself is a theme for heroism. It calls upon courage."

Then she lists the accoutrements of old age, and I won't put them here, the little and big embarrassments, and I'll quote, sorry for the language, she starts with her recalling as an extra burden the embarrassments of her youth and middle age before moving to old age...(I am glad to see I'm not the only one who does that)....I'll skip some... "the attempt to cheat in the sack race,"......"the fart on the podium, the misunderstanding about the ten-pound note, the arriving too early at the airport, the mistake over the visa, the table where there was no place name for her, the overheard remark about the inappropriate cardigan, the unforgivable forgetting of a significant name. ..she worries now about the soup stain on her cardigan, the egg yolk on the dressing gown lapel, but she certainly hasn't achieved anything resembling peace of mind. Her relentless brooding on ageing, death and the last things are not at all peaceful. Lines  of Macbeth, from Macbeth, repeat themselves to her monotonously, even tho they are not particularly applicable to her lowly estate..."

She's right. And then she makes a point about retirement centers, saying "not cooped up with invasively dressed strangers..." and that gave me a pause, too. My mother went to an Assisted Living against my advice but she liked it and the dress code there was unreal. They DRESSED.  I myself always felt somewhat...I still have in my closets the clothes I bought to enliven my visits to her  there, can you believe that? Have never worn them since. No navy turtle necks and slacks like I wear here, no, one wanted to keep up the standard for her sake so the others would not say oh is that your DAUGHTER? Does she wear any color but navy and black?  Am sitting here now in navy slacks and turtleneck, my "uniform," but I like it.

But IS that good or bad? SHE always looked wonderful, if I had been in that same situation, I guess I also would have risen TO (or tried to) that same occasion,  despite my personal preference  for the way Catherine Hepburn dressed.

What do you all think about the question that Bellarmarie asks above, I'll repeat it here:

in ageing do the elderly become more resistant to leaving their places of comfort?  I know my Grandmother rarely got out of her house and visited as she aged, we all came to visit her.  If my Mom could talk her into coming to our house she would get fidgety and want to go home.  But then I read where so many of you members are still traveling aboard and moving to other states and it seems not all elderly do need and want that level of comfort.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 24, 2017, 11:28:05 AM
This is a good discussion, with great issues and questions being raised. I not only like it a lot, I'm learning things.

There's hongfan with a giant fungus, can't tell you how much that scared me to death. A fungus among us.

That was interesting!

As far as how Rebekah acted at the funeral, people grieve in SO many different ways. You can't really come to any conclusion about them, after a while you have seen so many different ways of grieving.  Lovely poem, Barbara, thank you for sharing it.

That was a beautiful essay on clothes and religious groups, Barbara, you really ought to write, or collect what you've been posting here into a book of essays for your grandchildren, these worlds we describe will soon be lost.

Thank you Jonathan, for this: 'You can see this is no observant home', he tells the author...'My son is a better Jew than me.' And then on the next page: 'It is a fact of life to be hurt by your children.' The son, it seems stays away and Shmuel and Rebekah never get to see their grandsons.   I wonder what the rift was? We'll never know. I had missed this tho I now recall Rebekah missing her grandchildren since they moved there.

I would have really liked to have read Shmuel's Obituary but I can't do that, either since she's changed his name.

Ann, you are living the moving to a  Retirement Center now!  "One of my future plans is to be a volunteer helping to take the assisted living folks on their day trips. That's a day out for me,too!  My brother has dimentia and last week he was taken to the Chilldren's Museum in Indy.  My SIL went along and took lots of pics and sent them to me immediately. It was so nice to see all the folks having a good time."

That's you, that's vintage Ann, and that's why you shine wherever you are planted.  I think the outings for dementia patients are extremely important.  I remember our own Larry Hanna here on SeniorLearn, who used to go and play the piano for folks of reduced mental acuity, songs from their youth, which they loved. They do say now that music is one constant in helpful therapy.

Barbara, another moving post! I agree with the "lost their humanity" quote and that Shmuel is profound, and I agree with Bellamarie, that it's only chapter 1!!

Bubble, Margaret Drabble totally agrees with you on this statement: I much prefer being in a younger surrounding if possible! 

She seems to feel it's the key, actually... I know I am energized being around my grandchild and children.

Then this, tho, how many times have we seen this? You would not believe how the company of others, the entertainment, the meals he receive, all that made a drastic change.  Now he dresses properly, shave, and wait on time downstairs for the transport to take him.


What happens in these circumstances? Does the person then feel that somebody cares about them? Is that it?

Bubble, we have another student originally from Africa in our Latin classes. How did you come to be in Israel? It's a shame that Myerhoff could not meet you or many of our folks here who have SUCH life experiences!

This is certainly true for me. It tires me to travel now, although I liked it very much in the past. I still wish I could go around the world and visit the many friends I have  all over   

I wish you could too. Are you sure you can't? Travel IS tiring, whether you're in a wheelchair or not. I find that I can't do it the same way I used to, either, and I usually go by myself.  I'm having to make concessions to age. I am not sure that's totally a bad thing.  In fact I am almost positive it's not.

  I mean,  everything is slower. I WANT it to be slower. I want to take time and as they say,  smell the roses. For instance, i have always walked slowly. I get a lot of grief over it, even today.

I remember a football game my husband and I went to at least 52 years ago and his having to stop and wait and stop and wait on the long walk from the parking lot. He finally said why are you walking so slowly? I'm still walking slowly but now I do everything slowly. I'm slow. Physically. That's OK, you notice people and things others don't.  There's something to be said for it, there really is.

In travel, I used to be able to do Pompeii in a day. Nothing to it including at least 2 Necropoli. I won't tell you how much I saw this time, but I saw what I saw? I walked the streets. And they are putting in sidewalks. SIDEWALKS! If you've ever seen the pavement at Pompeii you know what a boon that is. I saw my first wheelchair last year in Pompeii. This year I saw many and I see alterations to accommodate those who can't  do it alone. And I saw one woman in a scooter, have never seen that, going right over these rocks, in a determined manner.  Here's an example of the pavement on the streets:(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/presentations/VirtualVisit2016_5jpg) That's the way you get IN to Pompeii. But even that is beginning to change this year.

Even my  youngest son who is in his 40's remarked with shock over the streets, they are very hard to walk on, even for him, but NOW sidewalks are appearing instead of dirt ruts where you have had to get BACK on that street and jump down shin  high curbs to do it. My jumping off curbs is over. Do I miss it? Are you kidding?

I honestly feel like it speaks to you more when you don't run thru it.

I'm trying to say that it's OK to adjust your travel to yourself, and make adjustments for age. Having been reminded by one of our posters on this website  that the stairs to the Tube (metro)  at Victoria Station in London are killers and with a torn tendon in my leg I took a cab. Who does that?  I did and I enjoyed getting there, too.  Should have taken a bus but didn't think of it, maybe that's the selfish thing cropping out.

And I took my first bus in Sorrento, you can't help notice the kindness of the drivers, everybody is suddenly so KIND.  In Rome I had gotten a week bus pass (highly recommended) and missed my stop.  I got out at St. Peter's train  station which is kind of a no man's land for where I wanted to go (the Basilica) and didn't know how to get back. I asked the driver who had gotten out of the bus because that's the end of the line and he got off to have a smoke. But people began to get on, too.

 No English, very gruff.  I said yes I missed my stop. He said get on. We rode around and got to Santa Spirito in Sassia, which is very close to the front of St. Peters where I stay but it went right on  past. The entire area, I should mention,  was blocked off for the Jubilee and there were police on every corner and more in the way of soldiers. But the routes were disrupted.

 Suddenly the bus stopped. Just stopped,  nowhere near a bus stop.  The driver got out of his cab thing and came back to me. Qui (here) he said, and then waved his arm to the right and  said Cinquanta.  I have never ever seen a driver do that in 31 years. I don't know if I present a pitiful picture or if (as I suspect) the people of Italy are extraordinary kind to the elderly, I have certainly seen enough instances of it this trip, but I recommend Italy, strongly.



But I do feel, those of you who are still able to go, GO. You don't know what tomorrow will bring, go NOW, and enjoy it.  There are some cruises you can do for almost nothing, save up and get on one, you will never forget it. Travel changes you, as I think Pat said, and for the better. Go now while there is a world open to explore. Italy is cheap and reasonable. Go on the off season and stay a week. It's cheaper than going to Ohio (no offense to Ohio)  and might be, for some,  a lot more meaningful. I hope to keep going, if circumstances permit,  for many more years yet. If not, not, but I've enjoyed every single step. Even though, this year, I have apparently become  one of the "elderly."


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 24, 2017, 12:11:55 PM
So now while we ponder Bellamarie's question, or any other  you care to raise, if you all finished  Chapter 1, let's read Chapter 2 for Tuesday: "We Don't Wrap Herring in a Printed Page." Boy that brings back memories.

New voices for us, and these are tape recorded in one of the classes at the Center, a Living History Class. That sounds fascinating, to me.

Let's start discussing it Tuesday and till then we can talk about some of the issues brought up in the last few days. I hope you will have lots of thoughts on each of them, it's a unique Living History itself.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 24, 2017, 12:43:55 PM
Ginny, I think it's "Next year in Jerusalem".  It's a common toast at a seder, meaning, "next year, we'll celebrate Passover in the Holy Land", either because they've taken a long-hoped-for trip there, or because they've actually moved there.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 24, 2017, 01:01:37 PM
ginny:
Quote
I wonder how much this one thing: GETTING AROUND, matters in the overall scheme of retirement issues?
I'd say it matters hugely.  You asked what was most important for an aging person still in reasonable health, and that would be one of my two.  The other is friends.

There are lots of older people stuck in suburbs, living with children, but the children are still working, not around that much, and there's nothing within walking distance but other houses, and no public transportation, so all they can do is sit around.  I stopped driving over a year ago, but I'm lucky in transportation: There's a ride-on bus around the corner from me that wanders to a transportation hub (buses and Metro) in the center of Bethesda, and Bethesda has a free circulating bus that makes a figure eight, passing close to the library, three grocery stores, and most of the places you want to go.  There's good on-line grocery shopping and delivery service too.  My concert buddy still drives, as do most of my eating-dinner-out friends.  But it's time-consuming, and some things that aren't close to transportation are difficult.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 24, 2017, 02:15:08 PM
I arrived in Israel in "62, got married in '64.  I had left Congo on a Red Cross plane during the Congo Independence war.  I went to Europe first, Switzerland and UK but the climate was too extreme for me, so I came to Israel where I had grand parents and aunts I had never met. Can you imagine such close relatives being totally strangers?

Ah Pompeii! I visited the site in '83 when I was still walking. It was a hard trek  along those streets but I saw it all. It was one of the stops on a cruise from Israel and around the Mediterranean Sea.  One of my dearest memories.

Next Year in Jerusalem? The wish, the prayer that every Jews for centuries has been repeating during Passover.  It is not Seeing Capri and die, as in the saying, but going to  Jerusalem and being buried there.

PathH I agree totally with you two priorities in what is important to one in aging.  I think we also need a certain routine for our peace if mind.  It gets more difficult to adapt to unexpected changes.

Maybe I could travel, with the help of a companion; finding suitable accommodation  abroad has been a dreadful challenge.  My last experience: renting an apartment guarantee accessible for w/c:  large doorways, big room, and a lift to get to the flat on the 1st floor above the street.  We got there at 11pm and... Yes there was a lift, but to access it you had 10 steeps steps in a narrow staircase!!!   At that hour, after the taxi left us, there was nothing else to do but to be carried upstairs.  Each outing became an ordeal.


(http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff27/sop_bubble/Brussels%20apartment%20entrance_zpskeb9yfwq.jpg)

See for yourself. The door of the lift is just on top there.


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 24, 2017, 11:41:01 PM
So'pBlb, just looking at those steep stairs would make one tired!  Where were you!  Somewhere exotic, I hope!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 25, 2017, 03:51:23 AM
Brussels, very near the GrandPlace.  I have many school friends living in Belgium.
 When I was getting to nostalgic I used to take a trip there. Not any more after the last experience.
I am getting like Shmuel, relying on my routine, even if it has small disagreements such as
different mentality or background.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 25, 2017, 08:23:21 AM
Bubble, those stairs are not only steep but could be slippery if you have the least bit of moisture on your shoes. 

PatH.,  Our city has just recently begun the online grocery shopping and will also deliver your groceries to your home, or you can pick them up after bagged.  I'm thinking this is going to be a big hit not only for elderly, but for the working two parents, who can't find time to get to the grocery store.

Ginny, yes, that is Marilyn with her beautiful birthday cake, and indeed she is 88 yr. young! 



 

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 25, 2017, 10:48:03 AM
I think around here more working parents use the service than do singles.  Weekend spots fill up first, and some items aren't available in small quantities suitable for one.  I often see the truck delivering across the street to a pair of lawyers.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 25, 2017, 02:23:44 PM
Oh I was so excited to see that Amazon had bought Whole Foods. I hope that means exactly what you are describing, Pat, that we can get it delivered free. I'll believe that when I see it way out here, but I think it would be a wonderful boon in the city to a lot of people. Millions to be made.

And I have also seen those groceries, Bellamarie, I think here it's the new  WalMart small food thing, I don't know what you call them but a sign outside said call ahead and we'll bring your groceries to the car. That might be nice for people who are impaired in motion, too. And I THINK it said the same thing at Publix which is a super grocery store.

Bubble!!! Yes, that would daunt anybody much less somebody in a wheelchair, what were they thinking of?

I came upon by mistake another photo of the streets of Pompeii today (http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/vvxroads2016.jpg). I took a walking stick this time to help keep my balance, I mean LOOK at that thing.

Bubble, and Pat, thank you for explaining/ clarifying the "Jerusalem," part of  this, I have always wondered what it meant:

Next Year in Jerusalem? The wish, the prayer that every Jews for centuries has been repeating during Passover.  It is not Seeing Capri and die, as in the saying, but going to  Jerusalem and being buried there. If one sees Capri in the hot summer and fails to take the funicular, they might die in the attempt, I know I would have. :)

Pat, it sounds like you've got the bus covered!! You are lucky to have that kind of service. I noticed recently that the buses here do that...sort of sinking down thing....?  so that those who can't step up that first big step can make it. When my daughter in Law and grandson and I went to NYC we got on a bus with other people and it was very crowded standing there,  and the bus driver refused to go forward until one of those people sitting in the seat for elders got up and gave an older lady who had gotten on  a seat.  He insisted that the people get up. I was impressed with that. I said something complementary to him when we got off and he said, "It's the law."

I noticed in Philadelphia that there are buses for those in wheelchairs which I had not seen before and they just zipped right on board. In Rome they have an area for these wheelchairs to ride on the bus. It's a new world and in 2050 there will be more of US (I won't be here but there will be statistically) than any other age group. What will the world be like then? (Nicer, I expect). hahhaa

Bellamarie, you are thinking of moving from your current home? To be closer to your children who just moved? How far ARE they? You are surely too young for a retirement complex?

Jonathan, Does it seem strange that it took three days for the author to get news of Shmuels death?  How did you interpret that? The thing about it that shocked me was the part that he had died 2 nights earlier, so he died almost right after she spoke to him. That would make me feel guilty if I were she, that somehow I had upset him, etc., but everything makes me feel guilty.

I liked this quote that Bellamarie typed: pg. 47  " The man who doesn't like his work is a slave, a slave to boredom..... in my life I have never been bored.  If you cannot tell a story to yourself when you are sewing, your are lost anyway.  The work has no beginning and no end, but the story is told, it goes on in the head.  A needle goes in and out.  You hold a thread in your fingers.  It goes to the garment, to the fingers, to the one who wears the garment, all connected.  This is what matters, not whether you are paid for what you do."

This thing about not getting paid there at the end is certainly a message for 2017, isn't it? A time in which people are valued for the amount of money they earn, it's an interesting philosophy.  Is he saying here that he was not paid much?


pg.  75  "We must stay involved to the last minute."
I agree with that, do you all? However you choose to do it. But then there's that part about "if you only have your children, you only have hurt," seems to bolster that. What do you think about that last statement?  I sure would like to know what happened between them.
 


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 25, 2017, 02:54:55 PM
My gosh.  The reason I came in here originally was to react to ths:   . I arrived in Israel in "62, got married in '64.  I had left Congo on a Red Cross plane during the Congo Independence war.  I went to Europe first, Switzerland and UK but the climate was too extreme for me, so I came to Israel where I had grand parents and aunts I had never met. Can you imagine such close relatives being totally strangers?

No!  How did that happen? It reads like a suspense novel! What an adventurous life you have had!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 25, 2017, 03:05:40 PM
"We must stay involved to the last minute.
That keeps you active, does not let you fall in passivity.  It brings interest and makes you forget the pain about kids or others. Being active is living, is making the mind work and stay alert.
Robby Iadelucca was a perfect example.  (BTW, what happened to him?)

As for paying for work done, I can relate to that. For years I have been knitting layettes for people. to supplement the income when my kids were small.  I often had orders "urgent " for a new born, a brith etc.  I had fixed rated for each types of garnment.  But sometimes the person would say: I had so many expenses helping the young couple with the necessary furnitures, etc.  So what could I DO when not wanting to be mean?  Ok, just give me what you can...  I think that is just the way Shmuel acted.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 25, 2017, 03:15:39 PM
My gosh.  The reason I came in here originally was to react to ths:   . I arrived in Israel in "62, got married in '64.  I had left Congo on a Red Cross plane during the Congo Independence war.  I went to Europe first, Switzerland and UK but the climate was too extreme for me, so I came to Israel where I had grand parents and aunts I had never met. Can you imagine such close relatives being totally strangers?

No!  How did that happen? It reads like a suspense novel! What an adventurous life you have had!


Long story - my parents married in Cairo where my mom was born but Dad had left his country - island of Rhodes, at the time Italian. But with the fear of WWII they preferred to flee and went in a honeymoon trip to Congo where one of my dad brothers was already working. This saved them because the whole of the Jewish community in Rhodes was deported and exterminated.
Until '62 they never came back to see the family who had meanwhile emigrated from Turkey to Israel.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 25, 2017, 04:00:35 PM
Ginny
Quote
The thing about it that shocked me was the part that he had died 2 nights earlier, so he died almost right after she spoke to him. That would make me feel guilty if I were she, that somehow I had upset him, etc., but everything makes me feel guilty.

I  saw Shmuel dying after he finished talking with Myerhoff as his story was complete, as was his life.  Makes me wonder if he was  aware his death was near, even though he appeared to be in good health.

pg.  74  "But when I come back from these stories and remember the way they lived is gone forever, wiped out like you would erase a line of writing, then it means another thing altogether for me to accept leaving this life.  If my life goes now, it means nothing.  But if my life goes, with my memories, and all that is lost, that is something else to bear."

"On this note about God, we finish now,"  he said.  "You have all I can give you.  Take it and do something with it."


pg. 75  He had told her (Rebekah) to get the tapes from me when I finished transcribing them, to give to their son.

If I were Myerfhoff I would not feel guilty whatsoever, if anything I would feel a sense of honor to have spent the last hours with Shmuel, allowing him to tell his story, knowing he knew it would be in a book to let it become a part of history. 

Ginny, 
Quote
But then there's that part about "if you only have your children, you only have hurt," seems to bolster that. What do you think about that last statement?  I sure would like to know what happened between them.

When Shmuel said this, I did not get the impression his son did anything in particular to hurt them.  I thought the fact he chose to move away and live his life with his wife and children was the hurt he was referring to.  He spoke of how they have to live their lives, the same as when he chose to leave his parents and homeland to come to America and raise his own family. 

I remember when I got engaged at the age of eighteen, I told my mother my plans to move from our small town of Monroe, Michigan to a large city Toledo, Ohio, she was devastated.  She could not understand how I could leave our small town, where all our family grew up and still remained.  None of our family had ever moved out of the state of Michigan before.  Even though it was only 30 minutes away, to her it seemed unthinkable and very far.  What Shmuel, my mother and now even myself feel when our children move away making it difficult to have them and your grandchildren in your daily life, is the break in the family.  It's like we don't want out little chicks to grow up and move away, especially with our grandchildren in tow.  But.... such is life. 

With the constant encouragement from both our sons, we are considering moving to the small town of Perrysburg, where our son and his family moved to.  It is about a 40 minute drive for us, since our expressway is under construction and will be for the next two years.   Our concern is our house value decreasing, along with our area's safety in the next few years.   Our other son and his family moved to Springfield, which is about 10 minutes from his brother.  So now hubby and I have to do a lot of driving in heavy traffic for all of our grandchildren's sports and school activities, and family get togethers.  We love our home, and our area is still very nice, it's more the surrounding area that concerns us.  We are no where near the age of a retirement complex.  Our kids keep suggesting a condo, but we do not even like the thought of downsizing to a condo, with little to no yard space for our dog. 

PatH., did you ever get moved closer to your family?

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 25, 2017, 06:14:01 PM
Thank you, JoanK, I have ordered the Joy of Yiddish, it's on the way!

I tend to think the same way as Bellamarie that we know when we will "exit" life. I had the similar experience as the author. Earlier this year I went to Shanghai to see my parents and then visited my husband's grandma who was 99 at that time. She went through so much in life but had been always positive and kind to everyone. I usually visited her a couple of times a year and witnessed her decline in the last 6-12 months when she started not to remember my name, although I think she still remembered my face after some time. The last time I saw her was the last time I saw her. It was in the last winter and she no longer got up anyone. I was sitting beside her bed side and talked to my husband's aunt for a hour and half during which she was just lying there and didn't show any sign indicating that she knew there was a visitor. At last, I said I had to leave and after took a few steps towards the door, I realized that I hadn't say goodbye to her yet, so I went back to her bedside, touched her forehead, and said to her "Grandma, I have to go now but will come to see you next time." All of suddenly, her facial expression changed and she seemed in a highly emotional state, it surprised me and I didn't know how to read that, and eventually I pat her quilt and said "Grandma, I will come back to see you next time, take care." I left for the States a day after I visited her and after I landed in here, we got the call that she had just passed away.

I think she knew that I wouldn't see her next time, she knew the time was coming. When I heard the news, I felt that I was fortunate to be with her at her last moment. I guess she was holding on waiting for my husband who she herself reared up and was her favorite grandson, maybe my presence in some way made her feel she could go now? She could exit now?

And they said people interviewed those who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and eventually survived, the law of physics couldn't explain why those could survive, and after they interviewed those people, they found, without any exception, all of them changed mind and wanted to live after they jumped!

I guess it's ourselves that ultimately give the nod, and say yes, let's go.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 25, 2017, 08:08:12 PM
Hongfan,  I have experienced the same thing as you speak of, the dying holding on for that one certain person to come before they finally feel it's okay to die.  My priest was actually giving the Homily today, and mentioned this very thing.  I have no doubt her anxiousness when you were leaving was her attempt to say good-bye to you.  I am so glad you and your hubby had that last visit with her.

So on to chapter 2 "We Don't Wrap Herring in a Printed Page" what every could this refer to?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: PatH on June 25, 2017, 08:20:11 PM
Bellamarie and Hongfan, I agree with you that Schmuel knew he was dying before that last interview, and also that he may have hung on to give a last winding up to their discussions.  Look at his final remarks: On this note about God we finish now.  You have all I can give you.  Take it and do something with it.  What it is, I don't know.  How you will do this with all your ignorance, I cannot think, but maybe something comes together and makes sense for you.  We'll see.

Then he calls her maidele, the first time he has used an endearing term, and tells her to go home; he's tired.  And for the first time ever, he doesn"t walk her to the door.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 25, 2017, 09:41:18 PM
Congratulations, Joan. You've made a convert. Hongfan, you will love the book. It's a marvellous introduction to a marvellous language. I've always thought of Yiddish as fractured German. No, let's say a metamorphoses. And a marvellous literature was created with it in the hundred years before the Holacaust.

I'm touched and moved by all your posts. What a beautiful little poem, Barb.

Ginny asks: 'Does it seem strange that it took three days for the author to get news of Shmuels death?' Yes, it does. And she felt hurt. She had worked so closely with him for a long time, and I believe Rebekah may have become jealous. Within days Rebekah is off to Philadelphia to see the grandchildren, and I have no doubt that she became observant immediately. As the son already was. Couldn't that be the reason why he stayed away? He didn't want his sons to be influenced by their grandfather. How tragic.

But the author doesn't mind admitting that she was enamoured of Shmuel. She gives him an entire chapter and closes his life with it. But she brings him  back as we shall see. She was awfully close to her subject, to the point where she herself becomes part of the story.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 26, 2017, 01:07:56 AM
Bubble, Robby is still around but spends most of his time on Facebook. When I go to FB, seems like he reallly never left.  He will be 97 in Dec and he has retired but is always inviting any of his former patients plus old friends to call him or to just come visit. Never a dull moment when Robby is around.  He rejoined us when Ella Gibbons died. But he drifted back to FB. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 26, 2017, 03:28:04 AM
Shmuel says he is like a polished arrow - it appears not everyone questions and they are uncomfortable with questions leading to new connections with other than traditional answers - if Shmuel and Rebekah's sons keep a more traditional Jewish home that probably means they are content with traditional answers and by Shmuel's very nature he would be an arrow in their midst - but then thinking the other side of that scenario, where you are not yourself to keep peace then, you are letting go of who and what you are because you are dependent on the good-will between father and son and that is the defining basis for being co-dependent.

Thinking further, I think we do ourselves wrong if we measure our parenting by the behavior and nature of our grown children - the best of parents have children who end up addicted or unkind or petty criminals and even some who become major criminals - they do not all come from uncaring bad parents - so I am thinking, the better way to parent is to do our best with no expectations for outcome - we measure our own behavior as parents based on our measure of our highest and best, not on a measurement set by the behavior of our grown children or the measurements set by society that seem to change every 15 to 20 years of what is supposed to be good parenting - parenting is a big task that is best worked on by being able to look ourselves in the mirror and believe we did our best regardless of the outcome.

I think that is how Shmuel had to consider his relationship with his boys - He could not magically, as an old man acquire so much wisdom therefore, as a young man, a young Dad, he had to be questioning and seeking truth which he valued over tradition - being himself, he established his relationship with his boys who did not share his curiosity, questioning nature, his adventures into truth finding - neither were bad - Shmuel was not a bad parent and his boys were not bad children or bad man - what it does appear to have happened is Shmuel taught his boys by his example to stick to your guns and not give up who you are to please another even if the other is a loving and lonely elder parent.

Shmuel's life experience taught him that all the love in the world cannot make up for lost integrity or make up for throwing away you personality, which are gifts from God, even for a comfortable, easy love relationship with your children  - we hear and this story shows us, we all die alone and to give up on ourselves, the recipient of our unacknowledged gifts does not jump into the grave with us. 

Shmuel is a proud man who raised children who were as proud - he did not pat himself on the back for that accomplishment - it brought him sadness and a loneliness not unlike the parent whose adult child is an addict or serving time in prison. Which again says to me, we take on the task with all the love in our heart but be satisfied with each day rather then expect what we give will affect the outcome - to expect our picture of the outcome further suggests the children are appendages of our fantasy story for their life rather than, individuals whose life choices are affected by so much more and many more than just parents.

So I'm reading Rebekah visiting her grands after the death of Shmuel is because she is no longer a loving partner enjoying her life with Shmuel and now, rather than sit alone being lonely with only her memories of their life together she adds the easy, the love that exists - her children and grands are much easier to immediately have a loving life experience than the challenge of making new intimate friends. Because after Shmuel's death even her relationship with long time friends would change - especially, if the friends are married couples - she becomes Rebekah not Rebekah, wife of Shmuel. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 26, 2017, 05:32:56 AM
Barb, very profound analysis.  It did make me understand better my own relationship with my kids as I never thought out why I did the same.  I believed  I simply was  egotistical and putting myself first.

Shmuel is quite a character with a lot of insight on life. It all came from his eventful life, the difficult events he went through.
Many holocaust survivors have kept the horror bottled up and kept to themselves.  I did met a few who like Shmuel were made stronger and had a positive view on their new life. They did  turned away from a God who they said abandoned them in time of need.

Thank you Annie. I am not on FB.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 26, 2017, 11:42:35 AM
I did not get the impression Rebekah was jealous of the time Myerhoff and Shmuel spent together.  She knew it was important for his story to be told.  Never did I feel either of them were more involved than doing the work that needed to be done.  Myerhoff did not express being hurt for  not being notified of Shmuel's death earlier.  If anything I felt Rebekah and Myerhoff exchanged a nice good-bye after the services.

pg.  76 Then Abe asked me to speak, responding to a sign from Rebekah.
pg.  77  Then it was over and Rebekah and I hugged each other.  We said we would meet  again when she returned from a long visit to her son.

I think Rebekah going to visit their only son, after losing Shmuel is something I would do.  She could be with their two grandchildren and  feel close to their son, it could help her through this sad time.  I did not feel the son had any disdain or ill feelings toward his father, he just chose a life further away.  Shmuel was still sending money to the son to help the two grandchildren.  That gives no indication there was a rift or bad blood between them.  Maybe we will learn more about their relationship later in the book, but at this point I think the fact the son was raising his two children in the Jewish faith is a testament to his pride and love for his parents.

Barb, 
Quote
I think we do ourselves wrong if we measure our parenting by the behavior and nature of our grown children

Hmmm... that is something for me to think about.  I do feel a sense of pride when I look at my three grown adult children who have successful, faith filled lives, and I certainly like to think I had something to do with it.  They have many times thanked me and their father for giving them the life we did, knowing the sacrifices we made, so they could go to good schools, know their faith, and become the adults/parents they are today.  It was not all an easy smooth path for them to get there, but in the rough times my hubby and I were there for them, reminding them we were always there for support, to listen and even a home for them to always return to if need be, which all three needed at a certain time after moving out.  The one thing they always knew was we kept God as our nucleus in our family, and we still today when their families have rough spots, we remind them to turn to God and pray for His guidance.  I as a parent take the good, the bad and the ugly and yes the successes where my children are concerned.  I don't NEED any acknowledgement for being a parent, and I don't need to measure my self from being a parent, but surely I do feel our grown children are a reflection of myself and their father. My daughter in laws are always thanking me for raising our sons to be such Christian men/fathers/husbands.  So, whether we do measure ourselves or not, others certainly measure us, and I am okay with that. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 26, 2017, 12:46:29 PM
Hongfan, you will love the book. It's a marvellous introduction to a marvellous language.

Jonathan, there are about 30 volumes of books in Hebrew sitting on my shelf right now - I bought them a little more than 10 years ago, I also have the Hebrew Bible. Hebrew has been on my list for ancient languages that I want to learn - it's just that I have been kept busy with Classic Greek and Classic Latin so far (you must know now who is my wonderful wonderful wonderful Latin teacher, right?)

Adding Yiddish to it ? I don't know yet but am absolutely interested in being introduced to - ultimately it's the people and culture that I want to get to!

Many many years ago, I heard someone said Chinese and Jewish are alike, I forgot what specifics this comment was related to. But I guess ancient cultures and people are all alike in some aspects, although Jewish is very much linked to religion, while Chinese is very much not.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 26, 2017, 05:02:38 PM
'...it's the people and culture that I want to get to!
Many many years ago, I heard someone said Chinese and Jewish are alike.'

Congratulations, hongfan, for all you have achieved in studying the classic languages. And, yes, I've heard many fine things said about your teacher. And she seems to have considerable knowledge of and great insight into the subject matter of our book, which is a treasure of Jewish culture.

Have you ever wondered if the Chinese people are a 'lost Hebrew tribe'? Like the English. Or that tribe on the west coast of India, who practice ancient Hebrew rites. My nephew feels he has ancient Hebrew roots, and lives somewhat accordingly. Like Shmuel, he's fascinated with the prophet Jeremiah. I started on Hebrew myself, along with a few other seniors, but something came up and I dropped it.  I do remember being sent home after the first class with pages of Hebrew verb conjugations and a variety of grammatical rules with the encouragement: memorize these and you'll never get Alzheimers. Now, isn't that a great incentive?

Congratulations, Bellamarie, on your great family life. What a blessing. And a long life to the children.

I found very interesting what you, Bubble, and Barb have posted about Shmuel. A great character, but why did he feel hurt by his son? Perhaps the next chapter will shed some light on it. Can we identify the herring and the printed pages, among all the clashing traditions and innovations of Jewish life in America?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: JoanK on June 26, 2017, 07:48:47 PM
I spent a lot of time and effort learning Hebrew when I was in Israel (Bubble and I once figured out that if I had come just a few months earlier, we would have been in the same Hebrew class. as it was, I ended up at the other end of the country).

But now, I never get to use it, and I've forgotten more than I knew. The rare chances I get to hear it, I can no longer understand.  I once complained to a friend that I wanted things to read in Hebrew, and she sent me Kafka in Hebrew! I can't even understand him in English!!!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 26, 2017, 09:32:10 PM
Thank you Jonathan, that is very sweet of you.  I wish the same for you and yours.

I got the impression Shmuel was hurt basically due to the fact his son chose to live far away from he and Rebekah,  which did not allow them to be a part of the grandkids everyday life.  It will be interesting to see if later Rebekah reveals any thing other than that to cause them hurt.  I felt it was a general statement Shmuel made meaning our children will eventually hurt us by the choices they make.

JoanK.,  I think like the saying goes,  If you don't use it, you lose it.  I'm impressed you learned Hebrew and lived in Israel.  The furthest I have ever traveled is Arizona and Las Vegas.  I did go to Toronto, Canada which is outside the U.S. but that's the extent of my travel.
Title: If you are ignorant, old age is a famine. If you are learned, it is a harvest.
Post by: ginny on June 27, 2017, 09:36:51 AM
I have so been enjoying all your comments, they are their own living history and I think all of you are profound. It's almost better than the book, it's certainly as meaningful and interesting,  and I thank you all for all of them. What stories YOU have!

But now let's start to look at  Chapter 2, (I thought of Barbara and heard Walter  Winchell again in this one, I am interested to see what Barbara thinks on Chapter 2), which starts out with a BANG. I almost came back in and said this chapter is too long, let's divide it because of all the topics in the first couple of pages but then I thought, that would eventually turn into a year's book discussion hahaha, and then I finished Chapter 2.

The good news: Shumel is back! I sure was glad to see him in all the anthropological explaining about ritual.  Either I kept losing my place and rereading or that bit needed an editor, which was it, do you think? It seemed quite repetitive. Or is it just me, and the jet lag?

BUT what DID you think about her rationale or explanation of what RITUAL is and the purpose it serves? Do you agree?

I loved the tape recordings of the Center folks and their frank opinions. The whole book could have been that, for my sake. Studs Terkel did a wonderful job with that sort of thing, but this one has more value, perhaps, as it provides an analytical explanation which somehow manages to capture something in our own lives as well. Did it work this time?

  "We  don't know from..." I haven't heard that in years, nor many of these words. Like a step back in time. And I had to look up a lot of words this time, too, like myseh, and Siyum.

Which of the Center folks who we get to know in this section do you like (I hate to use that word in a book discussion, but I will) the best and why?  They are all very different characters with very different perspectives.

What did you think about the meaning of the chapter title: "We don't wrap herring in a printed page?" 

On page 80 Max gives his definition of the difference in being religious and being a Jew. "Between being  Jewish and being religious is a difference.  If you don't put your hand out against injustice I don't care if you pray all day. You may be religious, but by me this isn't  a Jew."

What was is opinion of this thought?

I love these sayings, I love these stories, there seem to be a million
 of them.

What does this mean?  "If you study history, you lose an eye. If you don't study history you lose two eyes." (Nathan page 80)

It's a very rich panoply of cultures and voices in the first few pages but then we come to  the Graduation Ceremony, the Siyum,  planned by Kominsky, which I really would like your take on.

Obviously he meant well. It was a lovely idea, and you saw the number of framed certificates. Did it, however, come out well? Why or why not?  Should he have invited the children, and relatives, and when few responded (why not?) should he have then continued with his planned speech?

What was the result of the Siyum?

There is a LOT in this chapter, so much.  These are just a couple of possible jumping off places, but if  you would like to talk about one of the other thousand points, please do.

My favorite quote in the whole book so far: Page 94: "If you are ignorant,  old age is a famine. If you are learned, it is a harvest."  (Sofie). Do you agree or disagree? What IS ignorance?

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 27, 2017, 09:47:21 AM
Sorry, but I will be mostly silent for now on, not having the book, nor this chapter, but I will enjoy the comments and keep them in mind for later.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 27, 2017, 10:01:40 AM
HO!! Whoa, say not so. I put (laboriously) half of those quotes in here for you, too,  as I wanted your opinion on them!

Don't go anywhere, is your book taking a slow boat or something? How fast can you get a book from the US? I've got an extra one I can send you? Pages are yellow, tho.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 27, 2017, 10:34:53 AM
Bubble said, ""We must stay involved to the last minute.
That keeps you active, does not let you fall in passivity.  It brings interest and makes you forget the pain about kids or others. Being active is living, is making the mind work and stay alert."

And Chapter 2 seems to be all about that. There are so MANY quotes about old age in it and learning. But the author seems to take a different tack in her analysis of the situation in page 103:

"Shimuel did remark on the other painful truth, that the old people were not really equipped  to study. They lacked the educational background, and as their eyes dimmed, their hearing faded, their ability to concentrate, to master new materials, and to attend lengthy classes waned, study was more and more a strain. Far from being a lifelong, time-free activity, as the ritual claimed, it was another of the many losses of advancing age." (Page 103)...

Contrast this  with  the saying on page 90: "Scholarship was described as the essence of Judaism and the 'luckiest man among Jews was a retired man who had the freedom to study Torah to his fill.'"

If I understand her remark on page 103, I disagree with it. And Shmuel.

There are methods and methods in education. I know elders are not incapable of learning, from my own experience and I can prove it statistically:  in the state of SC there were 12 perfect scores on the National Latin Exam in SC  in 2017, just a couple of months ago, and thousands of students from all levels, including 24 colleges took the exam. 10 of those scores were from our..."oldsters." With less vision, maybe, less hearing, maybe,  but not less brains.  I really disagree with her  and his assessment.

Study in old age is a blessing, not a loss. In fact, studies have proven that you actually increase the synapses in your brain from doing certain mental activities connected with study and learning something new.

And if this were so, why did Shumel go to the Center to educate the people there?




Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 27, 2017, 12:22:58 PM
Bubble, Please to do not be silent.  We need your knowledge and insight, especially for this chapter. 

Ginny, I felt much like you as I began reading Chapter 2, phew..... I didn't think I would ever understand much, or get through the chapter.  I'm hoping through our discussion we will all be able to help each other with understanding this particular chapter. 

I was talking with my friend yesterday who is a converted Catholic, she and her husband the deacon of our church, lead our yearly Bible Study group, she also taught high school Religion class at a Catholic High School here in Toledo for many years.  So, I told her about this chapter and about Shmuel not believing in God.  She said it's not surprising some Jews choose not to believe in God after what they have gone through.  She said many live for today, because they don't believe there is anything more after they die.  I guess I can understand people losing faith after living through a holocaust,  I wonder if I, as a Christian, who has never experienced any type of devastation in my life, have the luxury of believing in God through my tradition, family, faith and scripture.  Throughout the Bible, especially the Old Testament, we see where there was devastation to different tribes, cities, countries etc.  We have lived through many wars that have annihilated people's homeland, causing them to flee.  I think of them fleeing from Egypt and how many years they spent aimlessly wandering in the desert looking for the promised land.  Generations died off during this time.  The people lost faith, faith was tested.  We know God did not ever promise us a paradise, except and until we reach Heaven.  I guess in reading this chapter and this book, learning more and more about the Jews attitudes and beliefs, it bring a reality closer to me of how some reach a breaking point, and turn from such a belief.  I am not judging, I am observing something that I was not ever aware of.  I know there are Agnostics and Atheists, I guess hearing Shmuel say he was Agnostic and did not believe in God, opened my eyes and mind to something I had never given much thought to.

I do agree with Shmuel's assessment of "the painful truth the old people were not equipped to study."

Ginny, I like your statistics, and it gives me hope for the elderly, although I must say that the statistics are probably higher where the elderly do not continue to educate themselves due to all the reasons Shmuel pointed out.  It's not to say they are not at all capable of still being educated, it's just these issues can deter them in their old age.  I myself hope I will always have some way to continue being educated as I age, even in spite of any of these handicaps. 

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 27, 2017, 01:30:13 PM
Apparently the book will take at least another two weeks to get here:(  It was not air mailed.

Max gives his definition of the difference in being religious and being a Jew. "Between being  Jewish and being religious is a difference.  If you don't put your hand out against injustice I don't care if you pray all day. You may be religious, but by me this isn't  a Jew."

I agree!  The very religious object to compulsory army service.  For them prayers are enough, if God will, He will save his people... This od course causes lots of friction.  If a religious youth does decide to go into the army he is ostracized by his family and neighbors, or has to change to civil clothes before getting back home so no one would know.
For me to be a good person, help the other whenever possible, be honest in dealing in daily life, this is a good Jew, not the one in yeshiva learning all the precepts and praying all day long but observing the rules, not participating in real life.

Formal studies in old life is not essential. What is, is to learn from other's experience, to learn to adapt to a changing modern environment. Learning to use the computer for example, even if it is only for the richness of contact with people we would not have otherwise an opportunity to meet.

"why did Shmuel go to the Center to educate the people there"
Maybe to share his own experiences?

explanation of what RITUAL is and the purpose it serves
I think it is the fabric that unites the "People of Israel", the common thing that is the same for all of us around the world, no matter the origin, the language, the education.  The lighting of the Shabbat candles, the fasting of Kipur, the rules for kosher food for example.

 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 27, 2017, 03:50:54 PM
What do you all think "We don't wrap herring in a printed page" actually means?

For me I think it's in the very first response Nathan gives to Rachel about her granddaughter marrying a boy who wasn't Jewish, but was going to become a convert.

pg. 79  Nathan:  I would have to say to your granddaughter that even if her husband converts that won't make him a Jew.  You could say a broche (Blessing) over a chicken, that won't make him a fish."

Basically I can agree with Nathan, we are who we are. Even though we can move to another country, we can change religions, we can intermingle with all races and creeds, we essentially can not mask who we really are.  Wrapping yourself in a different "printed paper" does not change who you are.  I am Italian, Irish, Indian American, if I move to Mexico it will not change who I am, even though I may learn Spanish, dress in Mexican customs, and live among them..... I will remain who I was born.  From what I can comprehend from Nathan is that being Jewish is from birth, not a chosen religion.

I have a niece who was raised Catholic.  She made her first Communion and Confirmation.  Their family celebrated all the holidays and went to church and was involved in functions in their community.  They were active in many social programs, and from all aspects their daughter seemed very happy and contented.  She met a Jewish man, fell in love, and for the sake of his family she chose to become Jewish.  Once they had children eventually she began celebrating Christmas and other religious holidays with their children.  So even though she hoped to share his faith with him she eventually found herself returning to her faith and traditions.  Sadly to say after twenty-five years of marriage, moving from state to state when her husband quit jobs and found new ones, she not having any lasting friendships from constant moves and him not allowing her to work, now that their children are all grown he took her to Europe came home and asked for a divorce.  He has all his wealthy family's inheritance and had her move out of their very expensive home.  Our family feels so bad for her.  It makes me wonder, did she wrap herself up in a printed page all these years, trying to be someone she wasn't to please her husband?  Do we do more harm to our self when we try to change or be something different for others?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 27, 2017, 04:26:47 PM
I have to share this with you all, because I thought it was so interesting and comical.  I always share my book discussions with my hubby.  He came into the room while I was posting and I said to him, "Let me ask you a question, without too much deep thought, what does hearing this mean to you,  "We don't wrap herring in a printed page."

He said,  "If you wrap fish in a printed page the ink will come off on the fish." He then said, "Which you wouldn't want to happen."

I laughed, and then said,  "WOW!  That is really interesting!"

Just  a thought to ponder.... 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 27, 2017, 06:45:27 PM
Busy couple of days so I am only now reading the second chapter - first page is a doozy isn't it - we get into:

Metaphysics --- the branch of philosophy that is the study of being/existence - meta=beyond physics=matte - Does God exist?- Do we have a nonphysical side?- Is there a soul when we die? Questioned by the likes of: Aristotle, Plato, Kent, St. Augustine, Bertram Russell, John Stuart Mill, Nietzsche, Duns Scotus, (one of the three most important philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages. Scotus has had considerable influence on both Catholic and secular thought.) Alvin Plantinga, {Emeritus Professor of Philosophy Notra Dame} Sa'adya Gaon,(is considered the greatest early Jewish philosopher) David ibn Merwan al-Mukkamas, (author of the earliest known Jewish philosophical work of the Middle Ages, a commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah; he is regarded as the father of Jewish medieval philosophy) Profiat Duran, who wrote, Be Not Like Your Fathers Duran's chief work, praised by both Christians and Jews, is his philosophical and critical Hebrew grammar, "The making of the ephod" and many more...

Aritstotle originally split his metaphysics into three main sections

Ontology - the study of being and existence, including the definition and classification of entities, physical or mental, the nature of their properties, and the nature of change

Natural Theology -the study of God, including the nature of religion and the world, existence of the divine, questions about the creation, and the various other religious or spiritual issues

Universal Science -the study of first principles of logic and reasoning, such as the law of noncontradiction

To consider is our physical being, that only recently I learned we are made of atoms - you can look up the various parts of our body that are made of a set number of atoms - One of the three biggest components of an atom is protons - it turns out that protons are older than the universe. Mind blowing - before the 'big bang' We easily can trace the development of our physical being through evolution and so any Jewishness would have to be located in our consciousness that holds our memory - so how did consciousness develop - it is not physical - it appears to be electrical as in electrons that are within the protons - and so does our consciousness also predate the big bang and how does that work with memory - I'm still reading tons to find the origination of our consciousness that appears to be the beginning of humanity rather than our physical body that evolved.

My gut says there was not a certain group of consciousness connections that set a group of people as Jewish - it has to be a collective set of beliefs and a culture of behavior, logic, practices. As to Olga living as a girl in a Jewish country - where would that be exactly - Israel was only established after WWII - these are elders and so the likelihood of living as a child in a fully formed Israel seems unlikely - my memory of reading and seeing the news and a movie of the early days were of more communal living where groups were focused on growing and building Israel that yes, as a child would be a certain form of Jewishness but survival and group protection seemed to be the emphasis.

As to writing on Sunday and keeping track of money would be practices followed by some Jews - again, my gut says not ever Jewish person follows these practices and by not following these specific practices does not seem to make them any less Jewish - and so I think we need a better definition of being Jewish. Or maybe each person that is Jewish has their own definition creating their Jewish identity.

As to personal identity, Harold Noonan, in his book “Personal Identity”(2003 Routledge) says;

Man has always hoped to survive his bodily death, and it is a central tenet of many religions that such survival is possible, and what forms, if any, it might take, are matters which depend crucially on the nature of personal identity over time. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 27, 2017, 06:45:36 PM
Reading Kafka in Hebrew!!! Now that's wrapping a fish in something far more precious than it. Try reading Kafka in Yiddish, Joan. It must be available. Without a doubt, Yiddish would be much better attuned to Kafka's modern thought, humor and ambiguities than the language of holy writ. I have Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment in a Yiddish translation. The 'guilty feeling' scenes are really impressive.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 27, 2017, 06:59:33 PM
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/NumberourDayscover.jpg)


They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it on subjects in the USA, and let them speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us June 15! 

Questions to Ponder on  Chapter 1

Chapter 2: Ritual and the  Graduation



1. What do  you think about her rationale or explanation of what RITUAL is and the purpose it serves? Do you agree?

2. On page 80 Max gives his definition of the difference in being religious and being a Jew. "Between being  Jewish and being religious is a difference.  If you don't put your hand out against injustice I don't care if you pray all day. You may be religious, but by me this isn't  a Jew."

What was is opinion of this thought?

3. What does this mean?  "If you study history, you lose an eye. If you don't study history you lose two eyes." (Nathan page 80)

4. Obviously he meant well. It was a lovely idea, and you saw the number of framed certificates. Did it, however, come out well? Why or why not?  Should he have invited the children, and relatives, and when few responded (why not?) should he have then continued with his planned speech?

What was the result of the Siyum?

5. My favorite quote in the whole book so far: Page 94: "If you are ignorant,  old age is a famine. If you are learned, it is a harvest."  (Sofie). Do you agree or disagree? What IS ignorance?

What is YOUR favorite quote?

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 27, 2017, 07:00:13 PM
Have not read it all but this appears to be a pretty good essay on the Philosophy of Culture - from, What is Culture to Cultural Transmission and Examples of Cultural Influence (language, perceiving and thinking, emotions, morality) to Philosophical Intuitions and Culture.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/culture-cogsci/
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 28, 2017, 12:02:51 AM
Wow --- Dangerous because when we are not convinced by a ritual we may become aware of ourselves as having made them up, thence on to the paralyzing realization that we have made up all our truths; our ceremonies, our most precious conceptions and convictions-all are more invention, not inevitable understandings about the world at all but the results of morals' imaginings.

Interesting - on a personal note I have been allayed by ritual however, reading the Bible is when I question if the whole thing is the need folks had to elevate life stories, some of which are horrible and frankly horrific behavior by those we are supposed to see as holy so that easily I question the wisdom of conventional and traditional views - however, once I read some of the mystics I get back my footing.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 28, 2017, 12:24:56 AM
Fish is one of the oldest symbols that are used for traditional kosher cooking. Herring is often used as a symbol of the hard life of Jews in various countries in which they settled.

Even when it's only a newspaper, it shouldn't be used for anything but study.

Does 'We don't wrap herring in a printed page' mean we do not combine the hardship experienced by Jews with the respect for the religious aspect of learning from the printed page?

Are the four related but distinguishable inflections of Judaism explained on page 95 the explanation for Olga saying, I'm Jewish all over, even if it don't show.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 28, 2017, 04:22:43 AM
I am curious: what are " the four related but distinguishable inflections of Judaism explained on page 95" ?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 28, 2017, 09:43:05 AM
Yes, chapter 2 is a killer, isn't it? Why IS that?

Once everybody has had a chance to read it, it will be very interesting to hear your thoughts on it.

In this chapter the Center's new member has decided the elders need the affirmation of a Graduation or Siyum, for one of their classes and he hopes to get the children and relatives of the group to come to honor the elders. This does not go well but he means well, but he does not divert from his planned speech. I was quite interested in the result of the ceremony and am anxious to hear what you all thought.

Then we get the analyzing of what's happened and a lot more issues arise, as Barbara has mentioned. I found the analysis of what is Ritual to be.....interesting. People don't like their religious rituals analyzed, and I am wondering what your take on this is? I found it endlessly repetitive and in need of an editor but i MAY have been guilty of rereading some areas, myself, in trying to get through it. Walter Winchell is shouting in this chapter and it  MAY be all in my head.

Bubble, I'd love to type that for you but I can't find the book which I carried all over the house trying to finish the jargon in Chapter 2. I hope somebody else can condense that for you as it's really WAY beyond my ability to reproduce. And it WAS complicated.

As Barbara says, she's all over the place with this chapter analysis and it gets a lot worse beyond the first two pages. I'm finding a lot of value in the quotes of the Center members in this chapter and I've put some of them in the heading hoping that you all might  comment or give your own "best quote" of the chapter when you have the chance.

Joan K, and Jonathan, Kafka in Hebrew!! hahahaha Well now THERE is a challenge. Hebrew is quite interesting to view, isn't it? I don't have a knowledge of it but in the National Museum of Rome this time in the Thermae of Diocletian Museum they had a pillar of the oldest Latin inscriptions found and they were written if I remember correctly in Boustrophedon form, which means boustrophēdón "ox-turning" from βοῦς, bous, "ox", στροφή, strophē, "turn" and the adverbial suffix -δόν, "like, in the manner of"; that is, turning like oxen in ploughing) is a kind of bi-directional text, mostly seen in ancient manuscripts. It starts on the right and when it gets to the end of the line comes back in the next line like our text, from the left.

Now am I right that Hebrew reads this way, from right to left? And do the lines then come back as described here? Or are the words themselves written backwards, so that the word "word" would be written as dorw?

I've always wanted to try it.

Maybe as a result of our cross cultural experience here we should learn one word of Hebrew to impress our friends? We'd need something which would type it in the original too.

But Jonathan, can you put a line of the Yiddish Dostoevsky? I'd love to see it.

Bellamarie and Barbara, on the "we don't wrap herring in a printed page," Barbara is closest to the explanation given in the book:  "We don't wrap herring in a printed page' means we do not combine the hardship experienced by Jews with the respect for the religious aspect of learning from the printed page?"

It's  quite interesting the respect for the printed page revealed here in the later parts of the chapter. But my question had more to do with what you all thought of the reasoning? I mean there are printed pages and printed pages.

Bellamarie, like your husband I thought it meant the print would come off, and that sent me into a long seque to the times the newspapers were treated with some chemical that the newsprint did not come off in your hands. Those days are apparently gone, I could make handprints of the local papers which, incidentally, are getting smaller and smaller, I'm sure you've all noticed.

Thank you for those links, Barbara. I think this chapter could take us about anywhere we'd want to go philosophically. Ritual is an important part of some religious ceremonies, so her analysis of it and what it has to have to be effective is quite interesting.

This is an interesting statement that Bellamarie made: Basically I can agree with Nathan, we are who we are. Even though we can move to another country, we can change religions, we can intermingle with all races and creeds, we essentially can not mask who we really are.  Wrapping yourself in a different "printed paper" does not change who you are.  I am Italian, Irish, Indian American, if I move to Mexico it will not change who I am, even though I may learn Spanish, dress in Mexican customs, and live among them..... I will remain who I was born. 

I am not sure I agree with that. (Not about you personally but about people in general). I think the more different cultures you are exposed to change you, the more you travel the more you learn and those little experiences subtly change your understanding of the world. It doesn't make you change from who  you "are," it makes you better. That's my take on it. What do the rest of  you think?

  Not in an argument, but in an exchange of opinion. It expands your horizons but more importantly, your understanding of basic things--that's sort of how I look at it.

Talking about herring, the first herring I ever had I had was  on New Year's Eve beck in the '60's when an elderly  man knocked on the door of my then boyfriend and invited us to a New Year's Eve celebration they were having downstairs in his apartment building in NJ. They were Jewish and herring in sour cream with onions was on the buffet and I've had it every New Years Day ever since: it's good luck,  or so I think.  With onions. Forget the black eyed peas and collard greens. Herring in sour cream with onions for luck,  and also Mince pie for the 12 Days of Christmas, one bite for each day.

Bellamarie picked this up and I keep ignoring it and I think it's a good idea to talk about it: pg. 79  Nathan:  I would have to say to your granddaughter that even if her husband converts that won't make him a Jew.  You could say a broche (Blessing) over a chicken, that won't make him a fish."

Over and over in the book we keep seeing people being told you're not a Jew, or they are not Jewish.  Look at Bubble being told, in Israel, yet,  if she didn't speak Yiddish, then you're not Jewish. Shmuel says the same thing. And now Nathan, and they aren't the only ones.

So here is presented a state of being which it seems that people can't really attain, no matter what? But when we look at the new synagogue and center in CA, it seems a very welcoming place. So I'm confused.

So I have to ask, what, in the eyes of these speakers DOES allow people to be Jewish? Is this a particular trait of the Askenazi, who do speak, if I understand it correctly, Yiddish? Is Yiddish it? Do you have to be born into it? What are the rules? Fiorello LaGuardia, according to the list Bubble sent to be put up here, was an Episcopalian. That's a safe denomination to be in, isn't it? But his mother was Jewish, a rabbi was in his mother's family, was it his grandfather?  His name is Italian. Does that make him Jewish?

What about question #3 in the heading? What do they mean you lose an eye?

Penny for your thoughts. :)













Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 28, 2017, 11:23:56 AM
Ginny
Quote
So I have to ask, what, in the eyes of these speakers DOES allow people to be Jewish? Is this a particular trait of the Askenazi, who do speak, if I understand it correctly, Yiddish? Is Yiddish it? Do you have to be born into it? What are the rules?

These are great questions, the only problem is I'm not sure there are real answers for them.  From reading this chapter I have come to the conclusion there is NO specific answer to these questions.  Finishing the chapter, I told my friend, I have no more clearer understanding of what it is to be a Jew now, then I did before reading the chapter.  It appears each of these characters have their own personal feeling about what it is to be a Jew.  Since I am not a Jew, and know little to nothing about Jews or Judaism, I have to muddle through what all these Jews are saying and try to best assess it for myself.  For some being a Jew is about being born into it, for others it is about religion, for yet others it is about Yiddish.  I've got one response to all of this.....Mama Mia!! 

Gosh Barb, I love how you go into the deeper part of things and make me really think.  I'm just not sure the elderly or the author intended to go there, but I thank you for doing so.  Herring and paper has a whole new meaning for me! 

I don't think the title of this chapter is meant to be a teaser, twister, philosophical or analytical title.  I think it is pretty simple, you can't mask or cover up who you are from birth.  Ginny reading your response to my thought about living in other cultures it seems you and I see it the same way.  You can learn their language, customs and live in their culture, grow as a person but.......essentially you are who you are.  It can change your ideas, outlook, and yes, even change your religion, but it can not make you different from who you were born, this is my understanding of what Nathan is saying when he says, a convert can never really be a Jew. 

The whole ceremony seemed rather mish mash for me.  The children didn't want to be there.  It was not going well at all.  It almost seemed like the author needed to fill up pages. 

Shmuel seems to think like me when he states on pg. 102  "Then they have to do it the right way,'  he answered.  "If they want a siyum let them go to shul and study Torah.  But this they couldn't do if they wanted to.  They haven't got the background.  They haven't got the understanding.  So they make it together with an American graduation and call it a siyum.  One thing has nothing to do with the other.  In America, you go to school, you study, that's true, but that is not religious study, and when you end it, you are finished.  You get your dipolma and get a job.  So if that's what they want, let them be like Rebekah and go to college.  This also they haven't got the patience or understanding for.  So they put  together two lies and call it a Graduation - Siyum, thinking this makes it even better.  It is to me only twice as foolish.  When they came to America, they couldn't wait to get away from religion.  Now when they are too old to do anything worthwhile, they go back into their past.  In my opinion they are making this party because they haven't got something else to do with their time."

I thought about re reading parts to see if I could get a better understanding, but to be honest, it had my head spinning the first time around.  I'll be patient and read all your posts to see if I can get a clearer understanding, or if there really is NO clearer understanding, because each person sees it from their own personal view.  If the Jews can't conclude what it is to be a Jew, I am quite certain a non-Jew is not going to be able to.  My friend said she has a book on Judaism for Dummies, I can borrow.  I think I may take her up on it.

Ginny,   
Quote
Yes, chapter 2 is a killer, isn't it? Why IS that?

I think it's because no two Jews, seem to clarify what a Jew is.  I felt like a hamster spinning on a wheel getting no where. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 28, 2017, 01:22:42 PM
To be a Jew is ... different for every one of them.  Some will swear it is all about religion (I don't think so). others will say it is something you are born into by having a Jewish mother. That certainly is true, even a Jewish grand ma, for the law of return to the ancestral land. It seems to be an individual feeling or belief.

For me, because I was born one, it is being part of the global Jewish community, willingly or not: others will label you that even if you don't want it!
My parents were not religious (though my maternal grand pas was a rabbi in Cairo Egypt) and never told me about religion.  I never knew about lighting the candles, eating kosher or any other requirements.  No Passover reading but we did get Matza from Israel, it was on the table together with regular bread. (Anathema would say the Ashkenazis!).  But I knew I was called a Jew.  It did not bother me since I did not encounter anti-semitism in Congo.  When my colleagues in school were having catechism lessons, the Jewish girls were allowed to go to the study common room and they could read a book. The other kids were quite jealous of us.

Only in Europe, and then in Israel did I learn the rudiments of religion, and when I had  my own children started to lit the Sabbath candles every Friday night.  I still do not say the blessing, but feel good to be part of the community.  Do I believe in God? I don't know, don't think there is a supreme being overlooking and writing down all the doings and the not observing all the rules written in the Bible.  I believe in being good, honest, treating others with kindness and understanding.  That I think makes me a good Jew.
Probably this is not the answer you expected or wanted.

Shmuel seems to be very articulate and has a good comprehension of what moves the people in the Center.
I see it here too: men reaching retirement and suddenly getting into religion and going to shul or synagogue every day for morning prayers and evening service.  I always believed the wife must be very happy to have that respite from having a man full time there. :) 

Hebrew is written from right to left;  at the end of the line you go back to the start of the next line, from right to left. Just like in Arabic (semitic languages).
 I would have written a sentence in Hebrew but you need the Hebrew characters on your computer to be able to see it. But maybe you will be able to see it here on this site

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1178760/jewish/Hebrew-Text.htm (http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1178760/jewish/Hebrew-Text.htm)

The first sentence translates as: All of Israel has a share in the World to Come, as it is said, "Your people are all righteous, they will inherit the land forever."
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 28, 2017, 01:55:19 PM
Haven't got time to read all your posts, just something I picked up with a quick scan:

Ginny: Now am I right that Hebrew reads this way, from right to left? And do the lines then come back as described here? Or are the words themselves written backwards, so that the word "word" would be written as dorw?

- I am curious too, and also is the Hebrew arranged by rows or by columns? Because traditionally Chinese is written from top to bottom by columns and from right to left too, an image to give you the visual, I don't know why the link is so long:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjipMHhheHUAhVs7oMKHZrOCDsQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftripointtherapy.com%2Fwhat-the-2015-nobel-prizes-mean-for-traditional-chinese-medicine%2F&psig=AFQjCNEsR5plnrdRx-hI93eGI-nsck2VWg&ust=1498756509381323


What impressed me most in this chapter is the emphasis on study by Jewish tradition, it makes me think - would that be what the comment about "Chinese and Jewish are alike" referred to, because Chinese culture also put a great emphasis on education.

Shmuel's attitude towards his folks at the Center is problematic in Chapter 2 and even more so in this chapter. If learning makes a person more critical and harsh to others, what is good about learning then? What I have seen in my life is: the more you learned, the more you become humble - there is a Chinese saying: learn for three days, you can go anywhere, learn for three years, you can go nowhere.

I don't want to be too critical, but Shmuel does bring back some memory of one person, a former boss; He is super smart, and I believe deep down he is a decent person; however he has this big problem he couldn't overcome - he has to trash other people in order to feel good about himself - that is what he has to have to keep him going. Pretty much every meeting we had with him, he had to use the first 50 minutes boasting himself in every way can and trashing everything and everyone he could afford, he would say your presentation is C, or that person doesn't know anything, etc; but once that was over, he was wonderful, he gave you great feedback, made good suggestions and helped you see things from a different angles, etc. I had sympathy for him, I think he had a too successful childhood and young adulthood (gave a talk at UN when he was 5th grader, went to MIT, etc), and it seems unbearably painful to him when he couldn't feel he is above everyone and he is the center of all the attentions (he was a C-level executive, but even so it was not enough for his ego). The consequence is that he had to change from company to company every 2-3 years, no one could keep him for long.

I think Shmuel would be naturally attractive to someone intellectually oriented like the author, because he can talk deep. But his action has not reflected a wise man in my view. Why did he go to the Center? Why did he have to be so critical to everyone and everything? Does he have the same problem as my former boss?

Did he really know Torah's teaching? Did he really practice Torah's teaching?

I don't know but curious about it.


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 28, 2017, 02:26:02 PM
hongfan, Hebrew is written by line.  Do you know any  other language apart from Chinese and Japanese written in columns?  Egyptian hieroglyphs too I believe.

Does your name have a meaning?

Interesting site you gave us, I love the elegance of the script.
But what a terrible spelling error: revile for reveal! Ro revile is  to assail with contemptuous or opprobrious language.  They certainly did not mean that for the Nobel Prize.

Yes, a very strong emphasis is made on education, studying, be it the Torah or otherwise. Without it you are nothing.  Children are encourage to learn, to experiment, to be curious about everything.  They also are encouraged to speak up and give their opinion, even in the middle of adults talking.  That I think is different than in China. That might be seen as lack of respect.

I do believe Shmuel knows the T. teachings even if he does not practice them.  Except during the Shoah, that was expect of all the Jewish children (of his generation) in Europe.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 28, 2017, 02:44:00 PM
hongfan,  Wow!  I think you made a great observation of Shmuel in comparing him to your boss.  Do you suppose highly intelligent people have a difficult time socializing on what they would consider a lower level of intelligence than themselves?  Shmuel tells us he read the Torah since he was a young child, he considers being Jewish as not necessarily as being religious, but more so being a good person and caring about others.  Even though he does come over as a bit egotistical, I think in his own mind he does not see himself that way.  He says he goes to the Center because the people need his different points of view.  He thinks he is helping them, in spite of how they treat him.  I'm not so sure I could keep going around people who spat at me, demeaned me and were not welcoming, so I give him credit for not giving up.  I think, HE needed THEM, more than he would be willing to admit.,

Bubble, thank you so much for sharing your feelings about what you personally feel it is being a Jew.  Since you were born one I would think you would be called one.  I have learned something that I had never given a second thought to from you and this book.  I just assumed that all Jews believed in God.  I suppose to some this sounds a bit silly.  I always thought that Agnostics and Atheists were the only people who did not believe in God.   Funny how when I was talking to my friend the teacher of religion and our Bible Study moderator about this, she seemed like it's something she found very normal.  From what Shmuel and you have expressed on what you personally feel it is to be a Jew, I asked my friend, "Then how is it any different than being a Christian other than they do not believe in God or Christ?"  Christians are taught to be Christ like, which is exactly what you and Shmuel explain being a Jew is, treating others with kindness, being involved in social justice, feeding the poor, etc.  What you and Shmuel list are our Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy:

Corporal Works of Mercy:
To feed the hungry.
To give water to the thirsty.
To clothe the naked.
To shelter the homeless.
To visit the sick.
To visit the imprisoned, or ransom the captive.
To bury the dead.


Spiritual Works of Mercy:
To instruct the ignorant.
To counsel the doubtful.
To admonish the sinners.
To bear patiently those who wrong us.
To forgive offenses .
To comfort the afflicted.
To pray for the living and the dead.


So, in spite of our differences about religion and beliefs, when it comes to how we should act, there is no different at all. 

Bubble
Quote
Children are encourage to learn, to experiment, to be curious about everything.  They also are encouraged to speak up and give their opinion, even in the middle of adults talking.

In America it is considered highly rude.  I have been trying to teach my over excited grandchildren, to please not interrupt while another person is speaking.  I'm of Italian decent and believe me, it's a hard lesson to teach, when you yourself grew up in a room of ten people talking all at the same time.   :D
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 28, 2017, 03:11:13 PM
Bellamarie, I am Italian too and talk a lot with my hands :)


"So, in spite of our differences about religion and beliefs, when it comes to how we should act, there is no different at all.  "


Do remember that Jesus was Jewish to start with, and educated in the Jewish religion.
I think I follow your works of mercy as a whole, except for admonish the sinners and pray for the living and the dead.  The acts are better than prayers in my eyes.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 28, 2017, 04:17:11 PM
How could I forget Jesus was born a Jew!  Yes, I talk a lot with my hands too.  My hubby said if they tied my hands I would not be able to speak. 

Prayer is important, but without action it would be meaningless.

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:15-17)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 28, 2017, 05:22:13 PM
Do you suppose highly intelligent people have a difficult time socializing on what they would consider a lower level of intelligence than themselves?

Bellamarie - I don't think it is about Intelligence, I have seen so many super intelligent people in my life and around me, much higher on the intelligence index than this my former boss, they didn't have this issue, they might not be interested in conversations unless it is highly intellectually stimulating, but they are not rude or need to belittle others to feel good. It's unfortunate that he somehow couldn't find a way to "cure" it - I knew he is fully aware his problem.

Bubble - I think the reason Chinese is written from top to bottom is because in ancient time Chinese wrote on bamboo strips, and when you arrange them into a roll, it is naturally that you arrange the strips in vertical than in horizontal, and when it is a roll, and most of people are right handed, so you use your right hand to bring the bamboo strip one by one, moving your eye from right to left, the image below may get you an idea:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjxlKvMuOHUAhVE9YMKHdKWByUQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.chinadaily.com.cn%2Flife%2F2011-01%2F19%2Fcontent_11882983.htm&psig=AFQjCNF3tvI0v3sfWlQdEjLUlDOFEIgVkg&ust=1498770282239591

I don't know if Korean also wrote from top to bottom in old time, but if it is, I wouldn't be surprised. Both of them were heavily influenced by Chinese culture since ancient times and have used Chinese characters in their language (both Korean and Japanese still write their names in Chinese characters although the pronunciation altered).

What Hebrew was written on in ancient times? parchment?

Meaning for my name - Hong is my first name, literally meaning "red", there are millions people in my generation have that character in their names because we were born during Cultural Revolution, and red is the revolutionary color. My last name Fan, as most of Chinese last names, was named after the place that my ancestors settled. Since our ancestors moved around, so there could be multiple last names originated from the same family. Fan is not a popular last name in China, but associated with many well-known scholars in the history of ancient China.


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 28, 2017, 05:24:56 PM
Bubble: 'Do remember that Jesus was Jewish to start with, and educated in the Jewish religion.'

I can't let that pass without mentioning a book on the subject: Sitting At The Feet of Rabbi Jesus, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg. And it's subtitle: How the Jewishness of Jesus can transform your faith.

And a little quote: 'As Gentiles we are not obligated to keep the ceremonial laws given on Mount Sinai, but we can still discover great wisdom within the Torah because Christ himself was the goal toward which the Torah was aiming. And this is our goal too - to be filled wih the love and goodness of our Lord and Rabbi Jesus.' p161

I suppose you could say that Shmuel doesn't suffer fools gladly, but I still see him as one of those truth-speaking prophets of the Old Testament.

Bubble, you were asking about the four 'inflections of Judaism mentioned in the book. They are:

1: The Great Tradition of formal Jewish Law, study, and shared history that makes Jews One People.

2: The local or Little Tradition of Yiddishkeit.

3: Eretz Yisroel, the ingathering of all Jews to Israel, the Promised Land.

4: The Judaism of modern America expressed in nonorthodox temples.


The more I read, the more I'm impressed by this anthropological study This is total immersion in a way of life. A note at the end of the book tells us that a longer version of this chapter was presented 'at a Burg-Wartenstein Conference entitled "Secular Rituals Considered: Prolegomena toward a Theory of Ritual, Ceremony and Formality.'

That must be available somewhere? Could that fourth inflection be seen as assimilation?

Barbara, I share your enthusiasm for mysticism. Is it an escape, or arrival?

I wonder that Hasadism isn't mentioned as an inflection. Too mystic?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 29, 2017, 12:33:18 AM
Busy as I have been, getting ready to move next Wednesday, I always pop in here to read these wonderful posts. All of us are learning so much about the Jewish faith.  And the Jewish people!

Since it's so late and I spent 3 hours at the annual voting for new board members at our condo association meeting, plus I was saying goodbye to a wonderful group of neighbors. 😢😢😢.  I am tired!

So, their are just a couple things I want to talk about.

About the title, I think it's a biblical quote, and the Jewish people had great respect for continual learning throughout their lives, right up 'til they died! They had great respect for the printed word.
Therefore, the title  "We don't wrap herring in a printed page".

When I read what these older Jews were taught as youngsters, then I must remember that the Jews are God's Chosen People according to the Old Testament. And in their different perspectives,
they are all trying to live according to the law of Moses given to him by God. But they are also patrotic Americans or at least they want to be. Hmmm, now in their later years, they seem to be
wondering if they have been good Jewish parents? Have they been faithful Jews?

That's the end of my thoughts for tonight. 🤓❤️❤️💤💤



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 29, 2017, 02:38:51 AM
Still have not completed chapter 2 but I am slogging through - she is all over the place with no one giving a good answer to an agreed upon definition of Jewishness. They all have their opinions - but frankly I am getting really annoyed with the lot of them or most of them - all this negative judging of others has stretched my patience to the limit. 

Starts with Nathan - not trying to make Olga feel proud of her granddaughter but pointing out how the husband has a black mark since he cannot really become a Jew - sheesh

Then Olga, not all the good things that she experienced living fairly safely in America as a Jew but no - how America does not make it easy for her with outward support to be a Jew - sure I understand nostalgia for the old country but this negativity drip is a drum beat throughout the chapter..

Then Hannah tells her myseh - not an uplifting story of how this lady deepened her faith and added to her Jewish community but that she was a miser and kept an excessively scrupulous kosher kitchen so that the details of her practice was judged and found to be over the top even by the Rabi.

From Nathan we do not get this fault finding with an individual but rather an observation of the good and bad within mankind.

And the retort by Rachel with a litany of negatives.

So Moshe finds fault with Rachel's reasoning - if it were me I would also but to cover my discontent with all the negative - yep, passive aggression.  ;)

Then the argument elevates and becomes more esoteric

Does not last long and we hear how Schmuel was critical of the graduation and the concept of study - and earlier he several times reminded the author of her ignorance - regardless the rational it was more negative judgment.

Hannah finds fault with Kominsky and the event. In response Sofie at least puts in a positive word and Nathan also adds a positive note.

Even our author talks of the disadvantage in arranging a ritual however, she does give him some kudos for doing a good job - but why start with the negative - the characteristics of ritual could easily have been explained as a positive note telling how Kominsky pulled it off.

Then there goes Hannah again suggesting they are all crazy... She finds fault with him for suggesting they are humble followed by her loudly justifying why she did not invite her children. Sure, being above it all helps to hide the hurt and yes, she could be a hurting lady that has made a partner of being judgemental but it sure is wearing. You just know she has to be judging herself just as harshly - however, it is not encouraging others to see the wonder in life and everyone or to be grateful for what we do have.

A ha that is it - they are all stuck in being perfect Jews and finding fault with anything less than their own personal idea of being the perfect Jew so that gratitude is no where to be found.

Giving out the certificates it is not told or thought of as a purely joy-filled acknowledgement but the negative aspects must be included "Despite poor health and bad weather,"

If these are such unhappy people they are keeping their misery alive and well nourished - there is no Joan Rivers or Mel Brooks or even a Don Rickles in this bunch much less an Anne Frank or Carole King type personality

And yes, I know Jews have been a persecuted people long before the holocaust - part of me though looks at the American Indian - their holocaust we do not read about because we, the whites are the perpetrators - still, to this day Indian babies are removed from parents who live on reservations and freely given to be adopted by whites - Using the smaller numbers that does not include all the Americas (100 million) but just the numbers attributed to the lower 48. We had 22 million as best they can deduce of which we have killed 80% to 90% - using the lower number, 80% that is over 17 million people - To say many died because of disease is suggesting that disease is not part of eliminating vast numbers of other persecuted people including those who died from starvation and disease in the ghettos and the camps - Recently we are aware of the death and torture of the Tibetan people - I do not have numbers but we can see how they, as various other groups, have been slaughtered and kept as second class citizens - Making that memory a daily part of the consciousness, as part of the ingathering of Jews has me wondering if the judgemental viewpoint among this group is the outcome of holding on and owning the unspeakable suffering experienced by those who lived in the camps.

I also wonder if the connection to the Great Being/The Soul of the World, that many call God is missing in the Jewish faith as we hear it is not unusual for many not to believe in God - Did not read that this group adopted the thinking of Spinoza, who said, God or Nature however, the American Indian has the drum that connects them to the heart of the earth and except for the ghost dance (19th century messianic connection to promote the return of the dead and the restoration of traditional ways of life) their dance is to mimic a connection with nature, as the elders and women often stomp barefoot to make a deep connection with the mother earth, who offers strength, vital sacred energy, greater than all they have experienced. 

It is that touchstone we do not hear exists among this group of Jews.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 29, 2017, 03:30:47 AM
Barb, your post made me laugh in comprehension - I realized that outsiders would not see it as we do: we are a people of complainers, of pointing the negative side of everything. But we do not really take it seriously, it is a way to ward of the evil eye, not to attract envy, or as in the popular saying, not to attract the attention of the Satan.  it become a habit not to show the positive, but only the negative. I am guilty of that as well.
  Would that explain in part the chapter?

Annie - about the printed page.  In the early 60s when I came to Israel, anything printed with the name of God or about the Bible was considered sacred and there was a taboo about using for any purpose. At the Ulpan we were even thought it would be a sin to dirty or tore such a print. Just as old dilapidated prayers books, they had to be disposed of by burying in a consecrated earth plot.  It that was not possible, then they were hidden in a safe place like the    Geniza that was found in Cairo.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairo_Geniza (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairo_Geniza)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genizah (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genizah)

Jonathan - "Could that fourth inflection be seen as assimilation?" Certainly by our Hasidim.  Some of them are so extreme that they do not recognize the state of Israel which should be in existence only with the coming of the Messiah!
Thank you for the four quotes.  I have to think about that.

hongfan - Thanks about the very informative link on bamboos.  I never realized it was used for Chinese writing in the old time.  For Hebrew   pure animal skins  were used. They were also rolled in scrolls and the writing was with the use of a feather.
About your former boss and similar acting persons, could it not be from trying to hide an inner feeling of insecurity?  It makes them lack these social skills that help dealing with people.

Nǐ jīntiān hǎo ma?  (hard to pronounce with my French accent!)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 29, 2017, 07:07:47 AM
Just LOOK at these posts! This discussion is SO good, I can say truthfully I hate to say anything lest I spoil the spell. Really.  Am on my way out but will be back tonight, so many subjects raised here of interest, have to drag self away: the better to think on them.

But as luck would have it I had just been reading about the negativity of...not this  Jewish community but elders in general. There are a million articles out there on why older people, not just Jewish people, people everywhere, in every  culture and religion, complain and have a negative attitude.

And I have read that being negative  and critical is one of the few ways an elder has to express his opinion. The theory is apparently that old people like choices, like two year olds, always give them a choice:  it's one of the few ways they can have some control over their lives.  "When I get old I shall wear purple and I shall say whatever I like. I am free to be ME, no more show.  When I am critical, I show that I am discerning..." type of thing.

IS there a tendency when aging to be negative and critical? Do you think it's across all borders, religions and cultures?  Have you ever experienced this in the elderly? Why would an elder be more prone to being critical and negative?



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 29, 2017, 11:51:41 AM
IS there a tendency when aging to be negative and critical? Do you think it's across all borders, religions and cultures?  Have you ever experienced this in the elderly? Why would an elder be more prone to being critical and negative?

Yes - and I do not care why - it seems to be more prevalent among folks who are not adjusting to the losses that come with age - for my friend it happened after she turned 93 - and unless you are hanging on to life, I think it is rude, uncalled for, and separating yourself from the larger community who depend on each other to lift all our spirits - life at any age is not always easy - we need each other - So If I hear a person in their 60s, 70s, and even their 80s complaining and wanting attention by finding fault, I smile my greeting and run - we do not need that - if it takes signing on to an inspirational daily reminder or singing hymns or playing inspirational music on one of your devices or adopting a dog then that is what you do - yes, Ginny that is it - acting like a two year old - to wear purple and say what you want does not mean being thoughtless sucking out all the sunshine in a room.

I have a cousin a year younger than I am and a sister who is two and a half years younger - both of them moved North as young adults - is it the weather or what - no, I do not want to ruminate over the what - you would think they would have more self-pride - in fact from the photos it appears my cousin is content dressing each day in what looks like a cotton robe that folks tell me is a housedress - sheesh maybe if she put on some decent clothes she would regain her self pride.

Well that is what I think - no one hears how I think because as I say - I smile and run plus I do notice those elders who 'do' with their head and hands are too busy to be negative - Guys older than I am, who lost their wives and there they are busy building deer blinds or raising veggies they give away or they do a get-together in the evening to play music and the same with women, who if nothing else get their cloth from old clothes the Good Will is discarding and they sew little dresses for the babies of the poor who die so they have something to be buried in or they are researching family history and attending Genealogy meetings or attend the AARP meetings and at the least, prepare themselves and their table to be presentable for a free lunch delivery - on and on it goes as we keep ourselves and each other's spirits high.

My friend, up till 6 weeks before she died after a bad fall, she had a basket on wheels to hold her note paper, cards and stamps and first thing every day she wrote a few notes or cards to folks who she read about in the paper to congratulate or to thank a store she visited for some little thing she noticed or a school teacher and her friends just for grins - she was never far from her binoculars that any movement noticed in the trees she had to take a look-see and look up if she did not know the kind of bird - and when her younger daughter came each month they baked cookies for the firemen. Yes, she had arthritis in her hands and could no longer sew but instead of bemoaning she found other ways to be engaged -

Another, I had a long time friend, who a year after his wife died came down with cancer - he continued to attend church every Sunday till the last couple of weeks and he stayed upbeat with a cheery hello and response to our inquiries to his treatment till the end - I'm working now with an old friend who is in her 60s and down sizing - she is so warm and cheery it is a joy to hear her on the phone - another friend with Parkinsons, who is down sizing to a care facility and it is like a girls night out as a group of us help her clear out her home - Attended a training event the other day and there were 4 of us that sat together, all in our late 70s and 80s fielding the best question because of our years in the business and being as sharp as ever even if our hair is various shades of white - on and on it goes -

For many of us money is tight and gets tighter plus, finding a doctor that will work with us since we are on Medicare is a trick in itself but we can bemoan all that or get on with making the best of it - which is what it appears these folks in the book have done - it is just that nothing pleases some of them - they complain and are negative about anything and everything - no cheery 'Hi friend' with hugs all around when they open the door or meet each other at the Center sheesh. Life is too short with too many atrocities to add to the down spiral by being grumpy, forcing others to feel like when they are around an elder they are walking on cracked eggs - nope, prefer the attitude of the two elder native women left in the freezing wilderness to die, whose children did not save them or stay with them, that we read last year Two Old Women by Velma Wallis.

I wonder if that has something to do with it - the song explains a warm and cozy learning and teaching environment but even that is a fantasy since it is explained the teacher is selfish wanting to get back to his own studies and even uses a whip along with curses - nice -( sarcasm) - no wonder the children grow up to be selfish grumbling and finding fault living on a the top soil of negativity.  And finally... it ends with a generous donation to planting trees, more life, in Israel along with the first we read of hugs and kisses - then wouldn't you know, followed immediately noting the peculiarities of teacher and others. Here we go again...


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 29, 2017, 11:53:07 AM
Oh dear all that comes to mind is Eeyore and his gloomy attitude.  Did you know there is actually a book called Eeyore's Little Book of Gloom  Read this book __ then you will be sorry....

Barb you managed to express some of my very thoughts, I just was not sure if I wanted to say them out loud.  History and even today's present state of religious wars show us there has been and continues to be injustices, slaughtering, and disregard for human races, religions and creeds.  The blacks have their own Black Lives Matter March to bring awareness to their injustices.  I'm glad you mentioned the Indians, they too have injustices, we are responsible for, and one more injustice I want to mention while we are on this topic is the number of innocent unborn babies killed by abortion just since 1973 Roe v Wade which is 59,115 ,995 and counting. 
http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/factsheets/FS01AbortionintheUS.pdf 
 More babies are killed in one year in America than were killed in the entire history of Auschwitz.
http://www.catholicmediacoalition.org/auschwitz_abortion.htm

As a Catholic Christian instead of living my life in a negative, gloomy state about these number of abortions, I instead volunteer at a Pro Life non profit pregnancy center, to help pregnant women who make the choice to keep their baby.  One life saved, is one life saved! I'll be glad about that one life, and hope for yet one more.

You touched on what was most troubling and irritating to me about this chapter, all the negativity and complaining.  No one does seem to have a happy, grateful attitude.  Each morning I wake up at the near age of 65, I thank God for my health, my family, faith, for the conveniences I have in my life and look for a positive in my day.  I basically am a happy person and like to bring happiness to others.  These elderly Jewish people seem to repeat the same thing daily, go to the Center and not really see each other, they don't seem to have gratitude in their hearts for what they have.  Maybe if they did believe in God and see what he has brought them through they would not ponder on the negatives, and they would find more joy in their hearts. 

Bubble
Quote
I realized that outsiders would not see it as we do: we are a people of complainers, of pointing the negative side of everything. But we do not really take it seriously, it is a way to ward of the evil eye, not to attract envy, or as in the popular saying, not to attract the attention of the Satan.  it become a habit not to show the positive, but only the negative.

Yes, as an outsider this would exhaust me to be around so much negativity and complaining, it certainly would ward of envy because not many would want to deal with this on a daily basis.  Outsiders, speaking for myself, see this as Satan in action.  How much happier does it make the devil to see unhappiness, negativity, complaining and cruel behavior to one another.  Even if in fact it is a way of life for being a Jew, it has to hurt the very core of a human being to be spat at, called names, and be isolated.  This was a very troubling chapter for me.  The conversation the elders were having on pg. 81 really gave me so much to think about:

pg. 81  Max"It doesn't make any sense for us to take up such big subjests.  The sages couldn't answer what makes a Jew.  We are not scientists.  We are not Einsteins.  We are only ordinary people.  What do we know from God. 
SonyaOrdinary people got a right to talk about God.
HeschelI'll ask you this.  Where was God when Hitler came around?  Is it possible God could keep quiet through such a thing?  No, from what I have seen, I would tell you that if there is a God, He has a heart of stone.  The things I saw, I couldn't speak about.  It takes the heart out of me.
SonyaSo if we got the way you do, we help Hitler make a success of his work and we don't have no more Jews.

This made me really give a lot of thought to what Sonya said, while I have been trying to comprehend how some Jews say they do not believe in God.  Is Sonya correct?  Has Hitler and Satan won, by turning Jews from God?

Oy vey!

P.S.  While reading this to my hubby my nine year old grandson who is quite intelligent if I do say so myself responded, "Nonnie why would the Jews blame God for what Hitler did, God did not tell Hitler or his soldiers to do those bad things."  I replied,  "Zak, they feel God should have prevented it or saved them from the Holocaust."  Zak, "But Nonnie, God is sad when bad people do bad things.  He doesn't want people to kill others."  I said, "Yep Zak, God gave man free will, choices to make and the Commandments to live by."  Zak, "But Nonnie, there will always be bad people, we shouldn't stop believing in God because of bad people." Out of the mouth of babes!

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 29, 2017, 11:53:24 AM
Ginny, there are many people out there, who have always been wet blankets even as younger adults. I had a SIL who was the wet blanket in her family. She could take anyone down with her meanness. Some people are just born that way or they have learned it from one the parents. Judgemental about everything! Drove me crazy!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 29, 2017, 12:14:16 PM
Barb, we were posting at the same time.  I do love your way of thinking and am so happy to have you here with us.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 29, 2017, 02:24:58 PM
Nǐ jīntiān hǎo ma?  (hard to pronounce with my French accent!)

- haha, I didn't hear French accent, but Northern China accent and better than mine! I am from Shanghai, in the southern part of China, which means automatically my pronunciation has a comic effect to the ears of my friends from northern parts - Mandarin was originally a Beijing dialect before it was standardized as the national spoken language.

By the way, I found a Google Book link for the book: https://books.google.com/books?id=H1HUJjs8yHkC&printsec=frontcover&dq=number+our+days&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiG76LZ1OPUAhVs4oMKHdyEAjgQ6AEIIjAA#v=onepage&q=number%20our%20days&f=false

This seems to allow you to read up to Page 129 which will give you the first three chapters and a few pages for Chapter 4. Once you finish the Page 129 and your book still hasn't got to you. Try to use some word on the last page and do a search in Google, it may give you another 100 pages to read, I guess (but you may need to clear up browser's history and close the browser, and then reopen it again before doing the search).

Try it and hopefully it will work.




Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 29, 2017, 02:28:19 PM
Thanks a lot.  That is certainly a big help.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 29, 2017, 03:50:31 PM
1. Here is the definition of "agnostic":

"a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God."

So it is different for someone being agnostic vs. someone atheistic ("disbelieving or lackinɡ belief in the existence of God"), I think we shall not mix the definitions here for the discussion, those are two different positions, and to me atheistic and theistic are closer to each other than to agnostic because both of them are buying into a believing system, no matter it is the believing of existence or nonexistence of God.

I think agnostic is a very natural position - to me, it is as simple as, when you ask a 3 years old child "do you know if Einstein's Relativity Theory works?", he looks at you and says "no, I don't know." It is just beyond his cognitive capacity and knowledge necessary to give a answer, whether it is a No or it is a Yes. Same logic here regarding agnosticism, if you don't feel you have what you think needed for deriving a definite answer, then you just keep a neutral position. That is to me, what is being agnostic is about.

2. Regarding negativity, I think there is likely a cultural difference playing here, as Bubble has pointed out. I still remember those times when I was in China and watching Olympic games, when we heard American athletes who just lost the game but during the interview they were saying "... we have the confidence to beat them next time, we are good at this and we are good at that, and we are confident that ....."  We looked at each other thinking wow those Americans are really arrogant! Now I am here in the States for 20+ years, I call this "positive" or "optimistic" attitude and I am doing the same thing too now!

How you see really depends on where you come from - your native culture becomes your reference point. For people from Eastern Asia, our culture tends to favor low key and modesty, so for what is being seen positive here is seen in different lights in that cultural environment. I suspect there is something similar here, we are judging a different culture based on our own cultural preferences.

3. I don't know how we define "who we are" - I mean if you take out language, customs, culture, ideas, outlook, and religion, what else we have left with us as "who we are", all the body parts?

I myself don't know how to define "who we are", it is a vague and elusive term, you seem to see something there but when you reach for it, there is nothing definite there, or there is?














Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 29, 2017, 05:45:11 PM
I wonder if the 'who we are' is the continuous DNA from generation to generation of marrying only those who are Jewish which I am confused if it is a religion or an identity of a people without a nation, till just recently, in the history of nations. Like being a Greek or a Dane or a Mongolian or a Sioux who all had land they controlled using their culture and laws. The problem I can see with that idea is there is not one common religion among Greeks or Danes or Mongolians although, there is a common set of myths, rituals, spirituality shared by the Sioux.

Yes, I can see there are differences among various cultures as to what we in the U.S. call negativity however, the question  addresses all elders and for many of us we find it difficult to impossible to enjoy life and be grateful for what we have, around folks who judge everything - do other cultures not see the gift of life and therefore, they are not grateful I wonder - because once you dwell on gratitude it is impossible to be negative -

I cannot imagine the people of China not being grateful for all they have achieved over the centuries - I've been watching the Michael Wood series on China on PBS where he starts at the very beginning - forgot now how many millenniums before AD - was it 8 - and shows the advances during one dynasty after the other - the Song (if I am spelling it correctly) was such a magnificent time of achievement in China - talk about paradise on earth. Lots of ups and downs, war and peace over the millenniums but did not pick up a sense of embracing the past horrors but rather moving forward and currently trying to recreate the best of the past. Michael Wood presents such a positive view that shatters some of the current news based in fear of China.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 29, 2017, 05:54:23 PM
Hongfan,
Quote
I think we shall not mix the definitions here for the discussion, those are two different positions, and to me atheistic and theistic are closer to each other than to agnostic because both of them are buying into a believing system, no matter it is the believing of existence or nonexistence of God.

I'm not sure we have mixed the definitions, but I do think Shmuel may have, he states he was agnostic, and did NOT believe in God.  According to the definitions you have provided, it does not seem possible to be both agnostic and atheist, yet indeed that is the impression Shmuel is giving of himself.

I'm coming to the conclusion this chapter is incredibly confusing to anyone hoping to have gotten any form of answer to what is a Jew.  I think we all did a much better job at coming to a better understanding of the title more so than the content.

Once again Barb you and I were posting at the same time, and you took the words right out of my mouth.  My hubby and I were sitting out on the swing on our patio discussing this chapter, and we both were wondering the same as you.

Quote
I wonder if the 'who we are' is the continuous DNA from generation to generation of marrying only those who are Jewish which I am confused if it is a religion or an identity of a people without a nation, till just recently, in the history of nations. Like being a Greek or a Dane or a Mongolian or a Sioux who all had land they controlled. The problem I can see with that idea is there is not one common religion among Greeks or Danes or Mongolians although, there is a common set of myths, rituals, spirituality shared by the Sioux.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Mkaren557 on June 29, 2017, 07:24:25 PM
This is an amazing discussion. I read your comments with awe. I am actually sorry I am on vacation. I miss this.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 29, 2017, 08:25:33 PM
I agree, Karen, and we miss you, too. It is an AWESOME discussion. I hate to say anything, I really do.  I'm supposed to, though. I've thought of you and your handling of book club discussions so I'm trying to model self after you. That, and the wonderful open mindedness here frees me up to say some things I want to say.

On the kvetching, however, I had a different take (naturally). I am also used to it, as Bubble says and hardly noticed it. Instead of noticing it I noticed the hurt behind some of the words and the ...what seemed to me to be reality.... behind others. Really if the children and relatives did NOT come, surely he could have altered his words. My book stays stubbornly lost, why IS that, is it forcing me to go by memory? Those of you WITH chapter 2 (and thank you SO much hongfan for finding those 3 chapters for Bubble, at last she can see what we're talking about.)  I can't wait to hear her thoughts, I really can't. Thank you Jonathan for listing those 4 categories. I am amazed. When I read them they seemed to have adjunct passages which took up pages. Now that  Bubble has the text she will see. Thank you for posting all those reactions, too, Bellamarie.

Have any of you have been to the Holocaust Museum in  DC? I went with Joan Pearson at one of the Bookfests. The thing seared me for life and I'm not kidding. We went thru it fast, by design but I can't get a lot of it out of my mind. You walk thru the progression of Anti Semitism, Kristallnacht,  you board a real box car, you are carrying with you the name of the person you are to be for a time. And then you come to  one of the upper floors and these strange circular walls about chest high, these are to prohibit children from seeing inside, they have their own route thru the exhibits.  But I looked. And I wish to this day I had not. I will never forget the films and photos I saw there of the medical experiments...I have no words. And then the shoes...the shoes.. I  don't  know how anybody lived thru that without being scarred. I think they are entitled to negativity.


So why am I saying this? I'm saying it because different cultures have different customs and ways of expressing themselves.  That was interesting, hongfan about the athletes and the Chinese way of thinking, too.

But I just watched a film from the BBC on the customs of Georgia (not the state) and the ritual of feasting on the graves of the dead on  Easter Monday, in fact, pouring wine for the deceased to drink on the tomb,  and leaving food behind. This is an old custom, the Romans did it, only this time it's a custom of the Georgian Orthodox Church.   Here's the URL:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6-4PulgF_

You don't have to travel to Georgia or  Venice Beach or Israel, to see different cultural takes,  you can see it in different parts of our  country. I well remember one of my children when I was not present sitting at the table of some distant relatives  in another state and when they innocently talked of  being proud of this or that,  he piped up  "Mama says pride is a sin."  hahahaa That caused some commotion.

 I don't have the book, this is maddening but I remember thinking Hannah was right in protesting the structure of the thing, if the children did not come why say rise up and honor your elders and there's nobody to rise but one small representation of, was it 2, correct me, people? I didn't read it with the idea of having to repeat it, but I'll find it. I felt embarrassed for them, all the more because the enthusiastic young man (was he a Rabbi too?) , was it Kominski? so wanted to honor them and went to so much trouble. That's one of those things which often backfires.  Always with me and a lot with others. But he did mean well, went to a lot of trouble and many  DID appreciate it, did frame their certificates, and were proud of the achievement.  When he saw no young faces, surely he could have altered his speech. But it appears he did not.

 Do I remember that correctly? Doesn't that have the opposite effect? Didn't it sort of point out that nobody came? So change the speech? So say all it differently?

Would I have said that? No. Would I have thought it? Yes. Out of concern for those so affected, I would not have said anything. I'd have "made nice." But  I would rather be around people who are honest in their opinions, even tho they are startling, or negative,  because with them you know exactly  where you stand, and even more important,  where they stand and then you can be comfortable,  finally,  and have an honest  dialogue and maybe learn something.

Those are the types of people I grew up around, and I do miss it.  WhatEVER you personally grow up around you think is normal; and if you don't think it's normal you probably spend the rest of your life trying to be what you think is normal, to refute what you experienced. You choose joy and optimism instead of negativity and pessimism, but I'm not sure the Center members THINK of their expressions of kvetching AS negative. I'm pretty sure they don't.

I am not sure at my age I could take it now, tho, since I've spent the last 56 years in South Carolina where people are ordinarily courteous to a fault. It's a lovely place to live and raise children, but for years, I'd say a good 20 years,  I was asked "Where y'all from?" because of my accent. So I didn't "fit in" initially either. I've got one now, or at least until I get near somebody from PA or NYC.

I laughed when  Bubble said all the school children envied the Jewish kids for the holidays off from school. I spent my days in old NJ permanently envying the Catholic and the Jewish kids because they were ALWAYS out of school for the most  holidays.

Barbara, I'm very glad to hear you talk about that China series, I'm supposedly taping it and can't wait to see it. At the moment I'm bathing in binge watching again   Father Brown, a lovely refreshing and positive take on the world, I really love the series and I think the actor is absolutely wonderful.

On the agnostics, there seems to me to be a great difference between an Agnostic and an Atheist.

Robert Frost captured the  Stoic philosophy of the Agnostic this way:

Wind goes from farm to farm in wave on wave,
But carries no cry of what is hoped to be.
There may be little or much beyond the grave,
But the strong are saying nothing until they see.

The strong are saying nothing till they see.

The difference is that an Agnostic is open to proof. The Atheist is not. Should the Agnostic "see" he will at that point recognize there is a God. And that is between him and his God. And I think a lot of people of all religious beliefs sometimes question, I thought the unexamined life was not worth living, isn't that the saying?

Barbara made a very good point here: Even our author talks of the disadvantage in arranging a ritual however, she does give him some kudos for doing a good job - but why start with the negative - the characteristics of ritual could easily have been explained as a positive note telling how Kominsky pulled it off.


But she didn't. Maybe she also saw it as sort of a...iffy.... thing. I think what he wanted to do was lovely, all the time and care and attention he paid was lovely, but when he saw a major part of it fail (no families came) then he should have perhaps smoothed that over.  I hate to say it but I sort of agree on that one omission. I think it was a self defense on Hannah's part, and yes I also saw the hurt.

I think this is also a good point, Ann:

When I read what these older Jews were taught as youngsters, then I must remember that the Jews are God's Chosen People according to the Old Testament. And in their different perspectives, they are all trying to live according to the law of Moses given to him by God. But they are also patriotic Americans or at least they want to be. Hmmm, now in their later years, they seem to be wondering if they have been good Jewish parents? Have they been faithful Jews?

Oh yes, that could be it, exactly. If the answer is no, where does a 90 year old go to feel better?  Is there forgiveness of sins in Judaism? (in edit: This seems to indicate there is): http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-jewish-view-of-sin/....  There is no Resurrection because they are still waiting faithfully, is that correct? I hate to ask such ignorant questions, but if I do, I may find out the answer.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 29, 2017, 09:55:20 PM
Just a quicky - trying to get stuff into the MLS - grrrr - but the lack of family showing up reminded me of an ad forgot what the ad was advertising but the elderly father has notices of his death sent to his kids who drop everything to get home only to be met at the door by their Dad who has dinner waiting at a lovely set dining room table and everyone has a cheery old time.

Seems that middle age children are known for not visiting as often as their elderly parents expect is reasonable. Not sure it is a statement of poor parenting just that we, the parents, are always there like a comforter or 'blanky' from childhood and so in the eyes of grown children that comfort can wait. The advantage of elders living nearby... but then for some that means becoming an appendage to the children's household - just not easy and bottom line it is all about our love that feels stifled if there is no immediate outlet - just one more of life's oxymoron's - independence versus intimacy.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on June 29, 2017, 10:04:12 PM
I was wondering about the definition and Jew or Jewish and searched up a few days ago, and thought this article sheds  some lights on those terms: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/jew-jewish-whats-the-difference/

From this article, it seems "Jew" is more religious oriented, and "Jewish" is more lineage oriented. I am sure this probably not a consensus, but I thought it at least provided some perspectives for me.

Barbara, I think the cultural perspective is fascinating and has made me wonder how significantly it could impact on people's values. The extreme cases I can think of is what I remembered somewhere in Herodotus' Histories , he described two different ethnic groups at his time or maybe earlier times (I wish I can remember which part and quoted the text). For one group, they honored their elders by eating their fleshes when they died, and this was the highest honor - they didn't eat the flesh if that person died from diseases (so eating the flesh might be seen as an honor to share the blessing for health and longevity?) For the other group, they honored their elders by burying them when they died; Herodotus said when people went to ask the "eating" group what would it take for them not to eat their elders but bury them, they were so shocked and they thought that was such a barbarian idea; and when people asked the "burying" group what would it take for them to eat their elders, they couldn't believe what they heard, how could you even suggest such a barbarian idea?

So, who is the barbarian? Which one is better? I guess what Herodotus tried to illustrate here is that definition of values depends on the people in that culture, not outside of the culture.

What Herodotus didn't say and I think is key to our understanding is - what are behind those cultural behaviors. I tend to believe each of them came from some well-founded reasons and if we don't know the reasons, then we just tend to focus on the surface values.

I have been thinking about the similarities and differences between Jewish culture and Chinese culture as we are reading along, of course, it is natural that we use our own culture as a reference point, whether we are aware or not. I saw both cultures shared the value on education and its importance in a meaningful life; and when I heard Bubble said that Jewish people likes to argue and believes different opinions help sharpen thoughts and views. My first reaction is well, that is quite different, Chinese don't like argue. We tend to put a great emphasis on cultivating harmony, we tend to think arguing or challenging others are irrespecutful behaviors; but then I said to myself, wait, Chinese did argue and debate a lot during the time of Confucius and a few hundred years later when China was constantly in wars between kingdoms, and Chinese argued and debated a lot during the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, particularly among the intellectuals, because everyone was feeling so shameful and so painful with the same questions - how could we have ended up to this, what shall we do now? So then I started to think it is probably a circumstantial phenomenon - people in a relatively peaceful environment vs. people in a constantly warring environment, even the same people, they behave differently.

Back to the Center people in the book, I would be curious if their arguments or criticism made them tired or made them invigorated? And now, I am also asking myself if my view on Shmuel shall be reconsidered, maybe he liked to go to the Center for those arguments, maybe that energized him, invigorated him? I don't know, but that made me re-think my views, so I think this is good. I like this.

Regarding China, China has lost itself in a big way in the past 100 years, we blamed our culture (that Confucius - well actually this is the Latinized name, we call him Kongfuzi), we blamed our language (let's change it to Latin alphabet and be "modernized"), and as I am writing, yes, you see, we also became a blaming people too, not only fingering pointing at each other, we even criticized our ancestors - astonishing isn't it? Now, China has imported the western capitalism, people have money, a lot of money, but capitalism is a poison in my view, it corrupts people, degrades people, enslaves people, and it is much worse in China than in US, because in US here religious believes attenuate the side effects of capitalism, in China, we don't have anything - we threw away the old traditional values and replaced it by communism, communism in some way did have the spiritual effects. My parents' generation worked day and night, they believed that the harder they worked, the sooner the communism dream will come true - they will liberate the whole world. Now we in reality threw away the communism (although the government would not say so) and imported the capitalism but not with the western religion, so now there is a big void in people's spiritual life, there is a saying "we are so poor now, all we have is money".

Am I too negative here? You might say so and I would agree with you - but why, I think because I care. When we care about something, we tend to be critical - is that right, eh, I am getting myself confused now, maybe.

But am I really negative on China, I would say I am probably the most positive one among many of my peers, I study ancient Chinese, I read ancient Chinese literature that my generation or my parents' generation no longer read, I appreciate a lot more than most of people in my generation about Chinese culture and what it can offer to the world particularly in helping achieving health and longevity, helping achieving harmony again between human kind and our environment - the philosophy and the way of life of Daoism, which is the root of Chinese culture. I see China will sooner or later have a cultural renaissance, it will happen, I am very hopeful.

And is this similar to the people in the Center? Behind the negative layer, there are shining optimism?

Human being is a complex creature and fascinating!

Well, after posted this, I saw Ginny and Barbara's posts but haven't got chance to read all them, so I want to say this post was written without reading theirs first - a disclaimer?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 29, 2017, 10:14:47 PM
Ginny, congratulations. This is the best ever beginning of a discussion. With or without the book...just hearing what you know from personal experience is so helpful in appreciating the book.

'Mama says pride is a sin.' Haha is right on. With this disputatious bunch at The Center nobody is given a chance to feel proud about anything. Can you imagine anyone there saying: 'Let's agree to disagree'? I don't want to inject a spoiler so early in the discussion, but the author runs out of patience herself after a while.  What a study!

'Is there forgiveness of sins in Judaism?'  Doesn't God say somewhere...'I've put your sins behind me, I've forgotten them...for my own glory.' Can you imagine the magnitude of their sins in that case?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 30, 2017, 01:19:57 AM
Oh my well around here we have all sorts of pride -
We are proud of our service men and women past and present -
We are proud of our kids and if they do something special we are busting with pride -
We are proud of the outcome of any endeavor completed by a group of folks - from planning a money earning event to support someone that needs help to building a neighborhood float for the 4th of July neighborhood parade
We are proud of all the volunteers who planned and carried out the successful annual Book Festival
Our Pit masters are proud of the barbecue they cook up knowing it was their skill choosing the best firewood, seasoning, ability to master the distribution of the right amount of fire.
We take pride in having enough pride in our appearance regardless if we shop Good Will or Neimans -
We are proud of our teachers, our school crossing guards, our school bus drivers
We are proud of our schools and universities
We are proud of our high school and collage football teams
We are proud of our debating teams
We are proud of our kids that play in the Mariachi bands or dance in the Folkloric Ballet.
We are proud of our ability to bring to the table a recipe handed down from our parents, grandparents and as far back as the family recipe goes. 
We are proud of the outcome when we do anything that is beyond the ordinary and we are proud of others who accomplish something out of the ordinary - like now I let my seller know how proud I am of the work she did to get her house tip top cleaned, polished, repaired, trees trimmed and flowers transplanted so that she created a show piece for me to market for her.
And bigger than anything is the pride we have in our State.

This short little minute+ video says it and listening I am reminded that the speaker is saying what we hear from some of the crew at the Jewish Center on the beach in California.

http://frontiertexas.com/texas-pride
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 30, 2017, 02:37:56 AM
Johnathan, my youngest grandson spent time in China - he was determined to learn to speak Chinese - the summer after his freshman year he was at, School of International Students, Yunnan University in Kunming, China - then he spent his entire Junior year studying at a University in Beijing followed that summer before his senior year on a work program in Shanghai - He had 5 weeks before his work program started and during this time he and a few of his new friends hiked and climbed in the western part of China and on into Tibet and the few days before he came home he spent in South Korea - lots of adventure and yes, he learned to speak Chinese well enough to converse about average daily topics and to teach a children's class while in Shanghai.

(https://68.media.tumblr.com/cd6159e17f3ba592653290f9d3be2a33/tumblr_oscjj82A3M1qjjrsro1_1280.jpg) (https://68.media.tumblr.com/0536b5de27437c00bdb7491ecc45ae2e/tumblr_osckotYllz1qjjrsro1_1280.jpg) (https://68.media.tumblr.com/1928d445f81ec432f3873ab18b8ff664/tumblr_osck0kiCLn1qjjrsro1_1280.jpg) (https://68.media.tumblr.com/36c65cfdb2b2fa84eec2dc3940330371/tumblr_oscjh7jgF21qjjrsro1_1280.jpg) (https://68.media.tumblr.com/86950fe3d017a0eaa04ecb019959731b/tumblr_oscjrdPe5y1qjjrsro1_1280.jpg)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 30, 2017, 04:07:34 AM
Hongfan maybe as an outsider we can be a bit more generous - seems the last century brought difficult and painful changes to more than China - Europe and Russia and many African nations crawled through the mud during the twentieth century - to me it is a waste of energy to blame - it seems to me it was all about change and change is never smooth -

Change to me is like a river speeding along after the melt and then the force of the running river causes a drop - does not have to be a great drop creating a water falls - but just the water falling, when it hits the new level it is a churning cauldron of activity - those who go over the falls in a rubber boat risk being dumped or falling out but worse is going over the falls in a wooden boat - the wood splinters and some sections churn over and over hitting bottom many times, while some boards splinter off and shoot across the water, while other bits break up further and get caught on the shore or in a still pool surrounded by rocks and still other larger broken pieces continue to float un-maned down stream at the mercy of the force of the river till someone snatches it and uses it for their purpose. Seems to me China and much of Europe were in wooden boats while Russia was in a rubber boat. I think we in the US have hit a water falls - we shall see if we are in a rubber boat or a wooden boat but whatever, folks who were swiftly floating on a melt-swollen river will be taking the drop, falling and trying to protect themselves as they are dumped.

I see it as part of the movement of life and China sure has had its changes recorded in its history - we are an infant country in comparison but we have already had some drops as new ideas took hold.

And sorry, no use trying to tell me I should accept being judgmental because it is a cultural habit - I do not like it - I see no benefit - and if folks want to boggle themselves with the weight of the past then let them do so - I know I am not always successful and can get down in the mouth as anyone but, I have been given the gift of life and I cannot imagine using any gift in a manner that does not honor the gift... everyone has something they are burdened with and everyone does the best they can - as we do not measure the value of a life, one more than the other, than we really cannot go around measuring the value of one piece of hell over another - as I recall the purpose of the holocaust museum was the effort to remind people that we can never allow this to happen again - and to each person, if we cannot fix the cause of the damage than to carry it around reminds me of the movie The Mission when Robert De Niro carries his past as penance.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnXN-mRFoPI
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 30, 2017, 05:39:53 AM

hongfan "How you see really depends on where you come from - your native culture becomes your reference point."
Exactly.  When Americans see themselves as "positive" or "optimistic", other cultures would say they are immature  or unrealisticly childish.  I have heard that more than once., as I have heard that they are pround of their $ and think they can buy the world with it... We all know that is such a simplistic view.
So I would say that 'who we are' is really that we are the reflection of our culture.

Now, could cultural traits be ingrained in the DNA?  I wish I knew!
They did found  a native tribe in South Africa who had always claimed they were part of a lost Jewish tribe, who kept kosher food, respected the Shabbat, etc. , they did find to their vast surprise that the DNA of many members matched the Cohen DNA.   

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8550614.stm (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8550614.stm)

"Chinese Jews can trace their lineage back to the 12th Century"

I wonder how culture makes a difference for them...

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jonathan-romain/chinese-jews-community-reemerging_b_3155003.html (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jonathan-romain/chinese-jews-community-reemerging_b_3155003.html)

All this musing generated from hongfan's post!

Ginny, the text I read is missing here and there 2/3 pages that apparently would make it more comprehensible. Grrrrrrrr!!!

I think that kvetching is  enjoyable for Shmuel and gives him vitality even if he does not say so.
Some people would feel totally depressed and inadequate if they could not do that.   it is the characteristic of many of our elderly in retiring homes.  It is not always accepted gracefully by their visitors and that is why many of the children prefer not to visit.

I think that the reason the speech at the Sium was not changed is probably because it has been prepared and the speaker could not possibly change the written text at the last minute.  Since he wanted it to be memorable, he must have spend quite some time to polish it.  Some people are incapable of talking to an audience without notes.

Ginny - during the wars  in Congo, fighters were tearing open the chest of the most valiant enemy  and eating the still warm heart.  They believed that this would add to their bravery and help them survive.  Culture again, beliefs.

Jonathan, it is said that the Jewish people are the proudest on earth, they will not bend to any power on the planet, only to the supreme God.   In history many were killed because they would not take their hat in front of the emperor or passing the emperor's statue.

Barb - we cannot ' measure the value of one piece of hell over another', true enough but I believe we HAVE TO remember the past, be it not to fall in the same pit, or to take example of the past achievements and emulate them.  I am sure China will find a way to regain its splendor and hopefully the exceptional values they had for family life and interaction between one another.  The world is getting to materialistic everywhere.

This discussion is giving me so many direction for thinking.  I love it.

P.S. Sorry Barb, that video is not available in Israel :(

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 30, 2017, 06:43:07 AM
You know Bubble I just wonder - I wonder if remembering the past actually keeps us from repeating it - I'm thinking how putting a murderer to death was supposed to keep others, or at least give them pause, to not murder - does not work - now I am wondering - nothing happens over night - there are circumstances that create the situation when our monster side raises its ugly head - no two instances that prompt us to show our inner monster seem to be the same - just ruminating here - so I am wondering, can we ever stop future horrors - I'm seeing things happen in small ways. They creep into our live and we react - that reaction can awaken our monster - the monstrous action we create may not be exactly the same but that is probably by chance - I'm thinking the folks with the gifts and monsters that existed during the past horror are not a repeat - they are different folks with different gifts and different monsters and so they have their own stamp on what happens.

I'm about to think there is no stopping future horrors - change brings uncertainty and for some they fear what they cannot control - there is no controlling uncertainty and so they react with the typical fight/freeze/flight which leaves out logic and thinking - it is all sub-emotion which is where our monster lives alongside our passions.

So that all our instruction for how we 'should' or 'must not' behave must be drilled into us, as behavior is drilled into us as children - we learn one way or another not to walk in the street - we seem to hang onto behavior that is self-protective but when we are in a state of fear that is when we want control and if we do not automatically turn to freeze or flight we are left with fight - fight can be sadistic.  hmm I guess I am trying to understand the monster within - hmm another big question that I bet there has been years of study with only more questions and no answers - come to think of it the questions are at odds if it is inherited traits or environmental traits. Neither here nor there, I am really questioning now if there is any way we can really alter the need for the many to gain control when they are fearful or their surroundings are topsy turvey because of change.

Hahaha OK I just figured it out - that is probably why I am appalled at hearing others be judgemental. When I am surrounded by encouragement and good will I can relax, be inquisitive and adventurous rather than feeling I must protect myself and not cause someone to send arrows my way by judging me and so... that is me wanting control in what I see as a fearful situation when I hear folks being judgemental or as this book is prompting the use of the word kvetching. My protection is to stay away from folks who judge or Kvetch - so I flee and when push comes to shove I fight by denouncing the practice.

Well even with that realization I still prefer to feel safe from the arrows and prefer to be surrounded by people of good will. I'm trying here - I may have to give it up and no longer try to pay attention to y'alls words that suggest I should not only understand but accept - so far cannot do it... I see it as tearing down the atmosphere and being mean - if I change my mind I'll let y'all know...  :-*
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 30, 2017, 06:56:27 AM
" I still prefer to feel safe from the arrows and prefer to be surrounded by people of good will."

I also wish that was always possible. Unfortunately I cannot see how to change the pushy (and probably inside insecure) people to come my way.
Remembering will not change actual circumstances, but it might make clearer what the danger is.  You know how many react: oh, it is nothing, a small slight soon forgotten; maybe they will find another victim to amuse them;  maybe if I don't react they will stop.  Well history has shown that is fallacy.
Israel has said: we must remember and be ready to react in accordance, not be meek and hope... who knows what.
Of course that is an extreme global view; in every day life it pays to be somewhat accommodating and friendly exchange can bring a new compatibility.

In daily life I am a quiet peaceful person :)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 30, 2017, 07:03:31 AM
Confusing isn't it - so many good people damaged by a few and that is they way it seems to be - we would all like to 'fix' the few but the formula has yet to be discovered.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 30, 2017, 07:08:04 AM
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/NumberourDayscover.jpg)


They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it on subjects in the USA, and let them speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us June 15! 

Questions to Ponder on  Chapter 3:

Chapter 3: The Rise and Fall of Kominski

What a chapter! Let's start with these:

1. Which of the stories the Center members tell of their backgrounds  made the biggest impression on you and why?

2. "We got to remember that our Jews is like a bouquet of flowers, they come in all different colors. All of them got nice smells. Together they are making a beautiful bouquet."   

"The time was right for a savior and Kominski relished the role." (page 120).

 "He made it clear from the first that his leadership style would be different from any that had previously  been followed at the Center." (page 122).

"Maybe he will get his business done, but in the meantime he will break everyone's heart." (page 125)

3. Where did Kominski first go wrong, do you think? Could he have altered the course of his downfall?  Was there a straw that broke the camel's back? If so, what was it, in your opinion?

4. Why  did Shmuel not step in to help? Why did he not speak up if he saw that was happening? Surely there was an opportunity to teach there.

5. What's your favorite quote of Chapter 3?

6. Of the author's list of the three mistakes in running the Center, which do you think was the most egregious?  (listed on page 126 and 127). Why?

7. "A person sometimes knows he has a special reason for being born." (Page 130).  What did you think of the miracle Kominski told? Is there a family without a "legend?" What purpose do these tales  serve?

Maybe that's enough to start us out in this chapter which is absolutely full of talking points. If none of these appeal, please feel free to offer your own takes on any of the issues so far.



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 30, 2017, 07:08:56 AM
You know how many react: oh, it is nothing, a small slight soon forgotten; maybe they will find another victim to amuse them;  maybe if I don't react they will stop. almost exact words used to minimize wife beating - not only by the wife but by the many who see the problem as another difficult bit of reality that everyone would prefer it went away without their involvement.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 30, 2017, 10:03:28 AM
so maybe kvetching also relieve the tension?  better than keeping it buttoned up inside?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 30, 2017, 01:47:07 PM
Makes one want to just shrink and disappear!
Just live one's own little life.
But that is a sin! Isn't it? 
Seems like one must pay attention to what
is going on around us, even while living our
own little lives. 

Question??
What has happened to idea that the Jews
are still waiting for the Messiah???
Does the saying "Next year in Jerusalem or Israel"?
mean that they expect to welcome the
Messiah then?? 
Needless to say, I am confused!

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on June 30, 2017, 02:53:53 PM
Annie - "Next year in Jerusalem " was said even before the creation of the state of Israel.
I am not sure that it relates to the coming of the Messiah.
 It is more a return to the roots, to the patriarch's land that was promised to Jews.
Messiah will come when the time is ripe.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 30, 2017, 03:30:30 PM
Bubble, thank you for explaining that to me.❤️  Seems pretty simple to me now.  But this story
Is confusing.  So it's all right for the Center Jews to still believe what they were taught and have used as a guide post throughout their lives.  And it's all right that their children have a more
modern way of looking at their Jewishness? I think this has always happened in every culture all over the world overall the years.  Sure took the Catholic faith a long time to catch up.  Well, maybe not. I guess most things change when they are supposed to. 

For instance, I just learned that Luther's Thesis was not the first time that the change in church laws was presented.  Seems there was another priest who suggested the same thing 300 years earlier and he was burned at the stake.  Well, this is what the History Channel said last week.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 30, 2017, 03:57:19 PM
My gosh, Barb, I watched your link!! Not sure I want to see the movie! Good grief! Horrendous !!
How old is the movie?  Never heard of it! And since DeNoro is one of my favorite actors, I know l
would be first in line to see it. Egad!!


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 30, 2017, 04:16:22 PM
 So MANY things brought up here! Thank you all for your views. They are not all the same, that makes it more interesting, I think. 

Barbara, you've said, as always, a LOT of meaningful things.  My protection is to stay away from folks who judge or Kvetch - so I flee and when push comes to shove I fight by denouncing the practice. 

  You're entitled to feel exactly as you feel,  and nobody has said otherwise. I personally feel great compassion for Hannah. I am not concerned of her dampening effect on me or those around her, I am sorry she is so lonely and unhappy. I wish I could hug her. She's not alone in 2017, even tho she's probably been dead for 20 years.

 I wish that she had another way to express herself but as we've said, and it's been explained several times (without asking anybody to condone it or accept it),  that the "kvetch" is the way of her fathers and one she learned as a child. Is that right? Is that wrong? We're all entitled to our own judgment on it, and that's what it is, a judgment: positive or negative.

This, I think got right to the heart of it: Seems that middle age children are known for not visiting as often as their elderly parents expect is reasonable. Not sure it is a statement of poor parenting just that we, the parents, are always there like a comforter or 'blanky' from childhood and so in the eyes of grown children that comfort can wait. The advantage of elders living nearby... but then for some that means becoming an appendage to the children's household - just not easy and bottom line it is all about our love that feels stifled if there is no immediate outlet - just one more of life's oxymoron's - independence versus intimacy.


Barbara, could you tell us what the gentleman in the  Texas Pride poem video means by "Sometimes folks in foreign states don't understand Texas pride?"

What "foreign states" is he talking about?

Jonathan: With this disputatious bunch at The Center nobody is given a chance to feel proud about anything. Can you imagine anyone there saying: 'Let's agree to disagree'?   hahahaa, no and I hope not to see it again,  myself anywhere. :) But they do feel proud of a lot of things, Myerhoff says that over and over. I don't want to inject a spoiler so early in the discussion, but the author runs out of patience herself after a while.  What a study!

What an interesting provocative statement, we must look for that. Always the provocateur, our Jonathan! I believe, like Shmuel you enjoy it, it certainly makes people think and adds to a rousing time, and I agree with Hongfan and Bellamarie  that's what Shmuel  got out of going to the Center: making people think.  Hongfan said:

Back to the Center people in the book, I would be curious if their arguments or criticism made them tired or made them invigorated? And now, I am also asking myself if my view on Shmuel shall be reconsidered, maybe he liked to go to the Center for those arguments, maybe that energized him, invigorated him?   If this is so,  he's quite the litmus test for the book and rightfully the main spokesman (so far),  I think.

Bellamarie put a lot of great quotes in here, there's one I want to look at, but first I want to hear from the author herself of the study and if any of you have any thoughts on either of these quotes, I would love to hear them:

Myerhoff: Finally the elders claimed that they had realized their most cherished ideals in life by producing children who were educated, successful, and devoted to them. They realize , they often say, that children must leave their parents, they they left their own families to emigrate when it was necessary and so they understand the distance between them and their own progeny is inevitable. But the truth is that they counted family ties as the only completely trustworthy relationships, and it was excruciating to them to be so cut off from kinship bonds...(page 106) Page 107 follows:

Their self-esteem rested on the definition of themselves as autonomous individuals, and as providers for the needy. To have stated that they themselves were needy was unthinkable, but in ritual the "unthinkable' may be presented without being consciously "thought."


So now let's let Hannah speak, pages 88 and 89:  And please tell me where are all these children who are supposed to be here to see us...This madman wanted me to tell him the names of my daughters so he could send them invitations to this siyum. He sent off invitations to everyone's children who would give him names. I told him that my daughters got more important  things to do with their time than come to watch Mama makes herself look stupid. What  do you think he answered? He says then to me, "Hannah, if you wouldn't give me your daughter's names, I wouldn't let you come. One daughter is a doctor, the other is a teacher. These are busy people For this business here I should ask them to give up an afternoon?



Translation: My children would not come even if invited. . It's stupid anyway. My daughter the doctor, my daughter the teacher, I am so proud of my children, and how I've raised them, I have succeeded,  but to this they would not come. I would not give him the names and embarrass myself when my important children did not come. It's stupid anyway. Faugh. I'm beyond this, it hurts too much to bear, to be exposed when I am clinging to what I feel I  have achieved.

So when I get up I'm going to take the righteous stance here and talk about the Olympics massacre, and that "in America we mustn't forget ourselves. We mustn't forget we are Jews because sooner or later someone will come along and remind us. We must hold on to our land, Eretz Yisroel, no matter who tries to drive us in tho the sea. " Nobody can argue with that, and everybody has to respect  it.

I think perhaps in his eagerness and kindness  Kominski was a tad less understanding of the people he most wanted to help, and that there were other ways to have arranged this, but that's hindsight.  He meant well. And you are right, Bubble, that some people can't divert from a written speech they have prepared, that does explain it, but I wonder what he thought afterwards. 

What do you think of this statement from the author, "But that's what culture is, a set of agreements on how to see the world, how to live and why." (page 120). Do you agree with that statement?

Has anybody figured out what this quote means?  "If you study history, you lose an eye. If you don't study history you lose two eyes." (Nathan page 80)





Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on June 30, 2017, 05:49:49 PM
And since we're coming up on the 4th of July and many patriotic celebrations, I'll answer one of my own questions. I like Sonya the best, so far, I think. On page 106 she says:

Life in America-- What can I tell you? Of course it isn't what it was in the Old Country. There we loved our parents. Our grandparents lived with us. Now, look at how we live here.

---On the other hand, I have to say this is a wonderful country . My daughter is a teacher, my son is an engineer. In Glowno my mother couldn't keep shoes on our feet. You know what that means to a parent? So, if here I'm nobody, I wouldn't complain. Nobody needs an old lady like me. It's enough to know I did all I could, and maybe I didn't do so bad.


I looked up Glowno and it's a small town in Poland.

Speaking of the holiday, I peeked ahead at the next chapter and it's VERY interesting, VERY short and allows many of the Center folks to speak for themselves, let's aim at that for Wednesday, if you like?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 30, 2017, 06:20:25 PM
Ginny, your comments about Sonja and reading her comments about succceding in America, made me remember a question that been going through my head ever since I started reading this book!  And here it is!!!! What did these people see happening in their countries that convinced them to leave and come to America?
I think I just read in someone's link that the Russian Jews went to Persia/Iran. Bubble, was that your link?
Gadzooks!!! First I read a post, then I click on a link and am told if I want to know more, just click
on another link!  After reading 3 or 4 links, I forget why I clicked on the first link!🤓🤓🤓
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 30, 2017, 06:33:10 PM
Wednesday is the big stuff moving day for me! So I will look in on Thursday or Friday to see what you all thought of the short chapter!  I will read it tonight!!!! I am working at my new place (the Home) tomorrow in the daytime and going out for dinner with about 20 of my old neighbors here in my old home.  This is getting hard! 😢
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 30, 2017, 07:16:21 PM
Oh oh Annie - hard but you are doing it - what a support system with 20 neighbors sending you off - hugs.

Good show Ginny - great - you really did pull it all together - wonderful - and yes I agree with you about quoting Sonya.

Haha the foreign state is any state in this country or nation beyond - left over from when Texas was an independent nation and that is still the knee jerk thinking that drives this state - everyone sees themselves as a step apart and since so many like to make in fun of Texan's it only adds to the specialness.

Annie I am trying to remember when that movie was released - probably the info is online - seems to me it was in the 1990s because it was a time when here at least it seemed every other person in this city was attending an Al-anon or an Adult Children of Alcoholic or AA or Debtor's anonymous or some kind of weekly, or for some daily meetings, to get their wounded life back together and when that movie came out that scene was discussed and discussed as a visible example of what we were doing to ourselves. Just as he dropped that sack only when he believed he could accept himself and be worthy of God's love was he free - if I remember correctly I believe he was a slave trader.

There are other clips of the movie on youtube - the bit where Jeremy Irons first encounters the natives and draws them from the jungle where they were watching for days by playing on his carefully wrapped flute - interesting movie since it also shows the politics within the church that the Jesuits were skirting - the official representatives that were not Jesuit of course were siding with the wealthy and keeping the poor subservient in order to control the wealth. Interesting and well done movie with a dramatic ending where with all they did to bring a better life to the Indians - they rebel and De Niro's character is tied to a cross that is sent down the rapids to plunge down a probably 300 or more foot falls - that scene is the still shot often used as the logo for the movie. Back to the idea that with all our good work does not mean we or the changes we bring will be accepted.

That is probably what we are seeing here in this story - Kominsky brings positive changes that we see how some cannot 'do' a smooth acceptance - the change does not bring about for them a better life experience - I like that as Ginny highlighted from Bellamarie's post "Their self-esteem rested on the definition of themselves as autonomous individuals, and as providers for the needy. To have stated that they themselves were needy was unthinkable, but in ritual the "unthinkable' may be presented without being consciously "thought." - Kominsky was busting their bubble and presenting reality in a way that took from them their life's achievement.

Seems to me that is the story of most social change - those who are affected by what is considered a better lifestyle is often, by the sacrifice of the heart of what they built their life around. We can see that today with automation taking on more and more of the physical jobs that when these physical jobs were developed into assembly line production this new way of making things took the heart out of the craftsmen and the system of apprenticeship and journeymen. With change there is always some aspect of something or someone that is discarded.

In the movie The Mission those who experienced change that meant downplaying the shaman, discarded those who brought the change. Yep. literally threw the baby out by tossing it all down river. So who won - yep those in high places who were now free to exploit the land and its people.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on June 30, 2017, 08:30:23 PM
Annie I hope you enjoy your new place.  It's always exciting to begin new changes and relationships, although it can also be a little apprehensive as well, but I sense you'll do just great!

I am so ready to be done with this chapter.  I will try to find time to begin reading the next chapter tomorrow after my two little grandkids Zak & Zoey go home from their sleep over.  I am not at all in the position of Shmuel or any of the other elders who do not have the enjoyment of their grown kids and grandkids close by.  My sons may live a half hour away, but that does not discourage any of us from spending lots of time together.  We all truly enjoy each others company, we go to church together, have cook outs, sleepovers, do all the holidays and birthdays together and throw in, just for the fun of it days.  Just went to my first Farmer's Market in Perrrysburg with my three granddaughters (21, 14, 12)Thursday, I actually let my twenty-one year old granddaughter drive me.  The four of us got caught in a huge cloud burst of rain and we ran to a shop and laughed all the way there.  Life is good, and I hope as I age it will only get even better.  All my grandkids tell me I don't look or act old enough to be their grandma.....oh I think I will be leaving them a large inheritance, God bless them all!  lololol    ;) :D ;D
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 30, 2017, 10:14:09 PM
How can you not help liking Sonya. 'At eighty-five she moved with a consciousness of her lasting beauty.' p89 She's chosen as valedictorian. In her speech she lauded and thanked America:

'...the land of freedom and democracy, which gave to all of us a new life...'

She and her co-religionists left the ghetto behind in Europe. In America they could live and believe as they liked. In the process they gave Judaism a new look, and even, it seems to me, ceased to look for the Messiah to come and make a new life for them. And in helping themselves they've helped all of us. I have a great Jewish doctor. Some here would like him. He's convinced that a successful old age is a matter of mood management. He's very modest. 'Now remember' he told me when we first met, 'I'm not God.' So, ok already' I told him. 'God is guiding you.' Now, after twenty-five years, he's amazed at my good health. Yes, I reply, thanks be to God.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on June 30, 2017, 10:19:33 PM
Do they celebrate The Fourth in Texas. Have a great holiday. Here, in Canada, its our 150th tomorrow, and we're awfully proud. See y'all on Wednesday.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on June 30, 2017, 10:23:40 PM
Oh, Bella, I know you will like Perrysburg.  Back in the olden days, when we part of SN, our Ohio group of book lovers, got together up in Perrysburg, for lunch once a year.  Several of our members from Toledo decided that we should spend the weekend up there and they gave us quite a great tour of Toledo and Perrysberg.  Ella Gibbons and I always went.
My husband was born there and we used to take his mom up to see her mom once in awhile. Nice memories. He was born on Cone St. And Grandma still lived in the house where he was born.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 30, 2017, 10:52:10 PM
 ;) Yes, Jonathan at least in the bigger cities we celebrate the Fourth however, Texas Independence Day is not as big as a few years ago - and yes, UT still fires up the canon that can be barely heard because of the traffic in this now large town but March 2 is our big day - followed on May 5 by Cinco De Mayo and Juneteenth that has spread all over the nation. We are a celebrating lot with rodeos and parades and street stands and flags and runners and bike riders you name it.

https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/texas-independence-day

http://do512.com/cincodemayo

http://www.juneteenthcentraltexas.com/
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on June 30, 2017, 11:03:09 PM
Happy Canada Day and thanks for tipping us off.

https://www.ottawatourism.ca/ottawa-insider/canada-day/
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 01, 2017, 10:54:47 AM
Happy 150th Birthday Canada!!


https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/19702281_1408694035884154_2456002878280270366_n.jpg?oh=350b970f04dfcc789af5810b160bd411&oe=5A0974AB

Annie, I have already fallen in love with Perrysburg.  How exciting your hubby was born there.  I found a very neat little locally owned bookstore that just celebrated it's first year called Gaththering Volumes.  I met the owner who is from Chicago and loved her. Right next door to the bookstore is a locally owned ice cream shop that takes you back into the 50's, it's name is Hershey's, and it has every kind of delectable sweet you can imagine!  The thing I love most about this sweet, quaint little town is how they remain local.  They do have Levi's Commons near the expressway, with all the upscale shopping stores, but for the most part it is still run by locals, and just over the bridge, minutes away is wonderful Maumee!!!  I can see my hubby and I living in either of these little towns in the next few years.  We have gone to watch the fireworks at a friend's house in Maumee for the past ten years or so.  They shoot them off over the bridge/Maumee river and we are so close the ashes fall on us.  We plan to watch them at our son's house this July 3rd since they are hosting a huge 4th of July cook-out/housewarming/40th Birthday Party for my son. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 01, 2017, 03:13:22 PM
Stumbled on this today and thought it was a good analogy for a few of our elders at the Center... I thought it was doubly fitting since we usually associate Owls with learning and reading.

Owl

Thinking of you is like twisting my head around like an owl.
Hoping the see the past behind me.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 02, 2017, 09:27:31 AM
Perrysburg looks very nice, doesn't it? Kind of the epitome of small town America, it could be anywhere, including about 30 miles up the road. I believe you've decided to move, Bellamarie. :)

And Wednesday our Ann will make the big move, herself, and we'll all  be looking forward once things settle down to hearing what it's like.

Ann asked, "What did these people see happening in their countries that convinced them to leave and come to America?" 

Last night on NBC they ran this feature whose film and photos I think make it pretty clear: http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/death-train-will-germany-finally-pay-holocaust-survivors-iasi-n778336

Those were interesting thoughts on how religious ideas change, Ann. I missed that on the History Channel. I'll see if I can get it in reruns.

I love that giant Maple Leaf, created by thousands of people  (https://i.cbc.ca/1.4187493.1498930450!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_620/the-living-maple-leaf-as-seen-from-above.jpg) in Winnipeg,  Jonathan. Happy Birthday to Canada, a lovely unique place with wonderful people. Loved the story of the Jewish doctor also by Sonya, how can you help liking Sonya?

Thank you,  Barbara,  for that explanation of the words "foreign states." Cute owl poem, and meaningful.

USA Today online has a wonderful photo montage of the Statue of LIberty, in many stuning angles, https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2017/06/30/statue-liberty/444894001/  There are 46 of them, it's hard to pick one, which one is your favorite?   I love this one:  (https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/15f8952e857a3629265704113b4cb459125589ad/c=0-241-1409-2119&r=295&c=0-0-292-390/local/-/media/2017/06/30/USATODAY/USATODAY/636344263849276318-GettyImages-473811388.jpg)

So we'll pause now and reconvene with Chapter 3 (how can we be half way through the book already?) on Wednesday.

Happy Brthday, America ! (https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/524a6a6be3f747793478b832620b3e143838952e/c=0-195-2327-3298&r=295&c=0-0-292-390/local/-/media/2017/06/30/USATODAY/USATODAY/636344263684539262-GettyImages-147253647.jpg)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 02, 2017, 01:43:49 PM
Yes, I remember the summer before I started first grade - relatives of my Grandmother came - we were all crowded in my mother's kitchen, the lady was a younger cousin to my Grandmother, and had her daughter who was probably about 11. Here I was excited about going to school and she warned me never to speak up and never ever ask the teacher a question. Her father, the cousin's husband, was a teacher and one day never came home - one man in the village had the courage to tell her the Nazi's took him - she tried to find him but got no information and she was warned by the one man that if she continued they would also take her away - I was too young to get the details about how they got here - My grandmother's mother was from Bavaria and so I am assuming this is where they lived -

Soon after we had our own shock so there was no more talk of anything German - my Grandmother on Friday always went to the German club where they had a tea dance and played bunco. She often stopped by our house at about 5: on her way home and always dressed in one of two dresses that she kept for going out. She came in after her afternoon about a week before school started all upset - that would be 1939 - she was ONLY in her German which is what she did when she was agitated - I'm hearing the uproar in the kitchen  - something about heiling Hitler - I had not idea who or what Hitler was or what Heil meant but whatever my grandmother was very very upset - My father came home early, around 6: and saw my grandmother so upset so he suggests we go to the Beer Garten, which was a regular Sunday evening gathering of my Aunt, Uncle, cousins, Grandma etc. and my Uncle always brought his violin attempting to play with the band and would be chased off the stage but then, he would play during their brake - we kids ran around and beer was in large barrels that was served in cold glass pitchers - yes, a good time that my Dad thought would help cheer my Grandmother who had already talked out enough that she was not going back which was a big loss for her since it was where she met all her friends.

Off we go walking to the Beer Garten which was a good mile away - the tall grass was already bleached and there was a part of the walk that was on new sidewalk rather than dirt sidewalk - walked past the shops and churches and past the empty fields to if it was measured out, about a block away from the Beer Garten, which had a brick building in front where you could have a sit down dinner with the arbor in back for the band and the floor for dancing and all the picnic tables in rows - At this point we abruptly stopped, silent, we stare - on the side wall of the building are painted in white all these large swastikas, some with dribbles of paint coming down and short German curse words and the front glass windows were smashed, huge jagged holes.

In silence we turned as if puppets - my father swings my sister back up on his shoulders - she had just turned 4 - and we walked home in dead silence - my father ahead, me in the middle and my mother and grandmother together behind - just before we reach the churches I hear my Mother say to Grandma - "no more German mom - no more"

We still, like the majority of Americans, had no clue about the camps except for the propaganda film seen on news reels in the movie - even with this relative never heard from again we did not know till we were all dumbfounded late in the war when the soldiers happened onto the camps - during the war we lost all contact with the German part of our family - we have no idea what happened - we were not Jewish but it appears that educated people in Germany were at risk so who knows - as to no more German - anytime Grandma called on the phone all excited about something Mom would have to raise her voice to get her to speak in English.

Not a story of horror but that time in history was when many lost their humanity - it seem incomprehensible to take in...

I have worked with a several, helping them find their home, who lost their father or both parents in the Cultural Revolution and I worked with one older couple where the wife was a child in Indonesia during WWII and when the Japanese came her mother grabbed her and they lived deep in the forest eating whatever wild they could find for years and another whose mother was made a comfort women and her mother convinced a US soldier to marry her 14 year old daughter and take her to America because she too was made pregnant and had a boy that years later they found - they brought the boy, then a teenager to America. He dotted on his mother. When I helped them, the vet and the women he saved, sell their house she was in her late 50s and he 70 with Cancer. He died before the house was sold. In this house they had built themselves the fireplace was huge and backed up to a closet - in the closet was a secret door into the brick fireplace with space for one person that was her hidy hole if anyone ever came for her again. In her new home she gardens and works at Walmart her son has married and lives nearby.

Need to stop this - I'm sure we all have our stories but bringing up that time seems to unwrap the cotton wool of our memory. Onward...

   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 02, 2017, 06:31:47 PM
Happy July 4th to everyone! Happy 7/1 to you, Jonathan! And double happy for me for the 20th anniversary for the Hong Kong's return to China!

We have so many celebrations this weekend in Boston for all the three, and that is why I haven't got chance to come up here until now.

Barbara,
- Saw the pictures of your grandson in Yunnan, Beijing, and is that picture with a lot of high buildings taken in Shanghai? It's wonderful that your grandson is learning Mandarin and has enjoyed his adventures. Does he find it difficult to learn Mandarin? I guess there must be a lot of hard working involved. I hope him all the best in his learning of Chinese and his future career in international affairs. If anything I can be of help, let me know.

Bubble,
- I heard some of the Chinese Jews have moved back to Israel, it's wonderful to see them finally got back to their ancestors' land and to their cultural roots!

Ginny, "If you study history, you lose an eye. If you don't study history you lose two eyes." (Nathan page 80)
- I don't know what Nathan meant and I searched online but couldn't find any explanation. My own take on this is is the following: there is a game I forgot the name that we used to play - you have a group of people arranged in a line, the first person says a sentence into the ear of the second person, and the second person turns around to murmur the sentence to the third person, and so on, once the word reaches to the last person, you ask the last person to speak out what her/she has heard, and then ask the first person to speak out what she/he has originally said, and depending on how many persons in the chain, 9 out of 10 times, you get a good laugh because the two versions could be very different. Has anyone of you played this game?

To me, what the first person said is what happened, and the last one heard is what she/he got to know by studying history. Let's say one generation is about 30 years, so if we are talking about what happened 300 years ago, then put in 10 people in between, if we are talking about what happened 3000 years ago, put 100 people in there, and what you got is the history handed down generations after generations - because it only captures something in the proximity of what happened (hopefully), you only loose one eye (or in other words, you get to know the half), but if you don't hear anything (don't study history), you don't know anything, and thus loose two eyes.

Don't know if that makes any sense, but that is the best I can come up with.

Have to run again, more celebrations to go - and yes, I agree with all of you, that this country is wonderful, what is the BEST part is the people here - my parents and in-laws first visited us in the late 90's, they brought with them their impressions of America from Hollywood movies and media coverages, and they were anxious when they came. But they soon found to their pleasant surprise that all the people met on the street, in the mall, and around the neighborhood were so nice to them - they went back to China with a very different impression about America and they couldn't help to tell all of their friends of their new discovery!

Have fun and enjoy the fireworks!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 02, 2017, 11:53:53 PM
The other day I was watching a 2008 video clip that Dr. William Widnall spoke to a group of AeroAstro students about heading the team in the '60s that developed Apollo's guidance, navigation, and control system (his wife was Sheila Widnall, MIT Professor and Secretary of Air Force under Bill Clinton). Towards the end, he told the students, "each generation has its own mission, for us, it is to go to the moon, for you, it is to save the earth."

I think (hope) the day we are all awakened to the reality that we all are on the SAME boat and it is sinking now, we may be able to put all our pasts and differences behind and work together to save us and our children for the future, or if we are already beyond the teachable window, then we will all perish sooner as a species on the earth anyway; one way or the other, it will be resolved.

A few years ago I saw the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008 by Keanu Reeves), it is a good movie on that theme. If anyone hasn't seen it, I would recommend it.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 03, 2017, 10:45:30 AM
In our earlier discussions about aging and challenges along with it, I wanted to provide some input on technologies that I have seen that will come to be available in the next 5-10 years that may provide new options, but I haven't got time to sit down and pull them together. Since we are in a transition between chapters and I have some time now, so here we go:

1. Auto driving on the highways

Self-driving cars is a buzz word and all the major car manufacturers are working on it. Some of the auto features are already available on Tesla and you can search online and see their latest progress. How safe it is? Based on what I have seen and people in this field I talked to, there is still challenges for auto-driving ANY time under ANY weather, urban environment is a bit challenging with so many pedestrians and a lot of complications, but machine does better, better than human when it drives on highways on in rural areas. Google has tested their self-driving cars on highways for more than 5  years and it is quite safe, particularly for areas not snow or rain often, so, for Boston it might be more challenging because snow changes the road features and make it more difficult for the computer to recognize where it is, but for areas not snow much, it is probably going to see those cars in use earlier. So if you don't like to drive on highways, the car can easily do that for you; on local urban environment, experts have different opinions, but what I have seen that makes sense to me is the semi-auto model, the drive can choose to drive herself/himself, and the car (computer) is monitoring all the time, when it detects dangerous situations, for instance, the driver seems getting sleepy, or the car is going to hit something if does not change its course, the car will then take over the control and make necessary correction.

In short, driving and going around shall be less a challenge down the road.

2. Prevention of Falls

It has been many years that researchers have been looking for ways to detect and prevent falls for seniors, based on what I know, the earlier technology was relying on having the seniors to wear some sensors on their body, but it seems out of favor now because it requires seniors to wear them all the time and this is not practical, and some seniors either forget or don't like to wear them. So these days researchers are focusing on using cameras in the surroundings to capture and do image analysis, one type of research I have seen is to measure the gait quality - it deteriorates before the fall occurs and thus serves as an indicator. For those type of technology, the tricky thing is usually in how much margin you want to set, and maybe different for each individual - if it is too large, it may set alarms too often and eventually the users and caretakers will have alarm fatigue and may ignore it, if it is too small, then it may run the risk of not having sufficient time to take preventative actions, so there has to be some sort of intelligence in the algorithms and with so much resources and capitals are pouring into the areas of artificial intelligence, the baseline technology will become more mature in the next few years and I thus expect the fall detection will increasingly become reliable in the near future.

3. Clothes becomes your smartphone, tablet, radio, blood pressure monitors, and more, etc

A $300+ million investment from public and private sectors is committed to the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (http://go.affoa.org). It is based on the innovation from Professor Yoel Fink at MIT years ago that his lab by accident found a way to imbed semiconductor material (which all the electronics today are built with) inside tiny optical fibers, which means now you can weave those very tiny fibers into clothes, hats, gloves, and they will function as electronic devices for communications and computing, it will still take some times to make those into mass market, but it has attracted large group of companies from textile industry and other industries, it is one of the innovative manufacturing initiatives under Obama administration, hopefully it will survive through the current administration.

In short, you may not need to hover over a computer and gaze into a screen to post on this book club in the future, there will be more options open for more natural and easier ways to communicate and to monitor the state of your health.

4. More knowledge about what's going inside of us

It has been for quite few years that researchers in the medical industry have tried to get access to real time data inside the body to help monitor patients' inner environment and customize treatment. The methods usually involves a tiny device that goes inside the body (may stay there or circulate out) which gets the desired measurement, the data can be used to regulate medicine dosage, or to monitor critical parameters, etc.

Some examples, a company called Proteus Digital Health has put a tiny radio on a pill, and this radio is sort of "glued" onto the pill. When the pill goes inside the body, the tiny radio is turned on and starts to send out measurement data. It has been approved by FDA, not sure if the business has taken off or not.

Another company called CadioMEMS makes a tiny sensor which can be inserted into somewhere close to the heart and monitor some specific signals that appear about 1hr before heart attack happens, so the patient can call 911 and get to hospital in time to take proper medical treatment before the onset.

Many technologies are and will be applicable to medical applications, but in US the adoption rate has been frustrating to many high tech companies because of the insurance reimbursement barriers, it just takes many years to have something new be approved for insurance coverage, this has been the case for the last 10 years, but I hope this situation will change as the benefits of these new technologies are becoming more proven and the incentive for adopting new technology to save cost is becoming stronger.

In short, we will know more about what is happening inside of us and that will help lead to the optimized and customized treatment ("precision medicine" is the jargon for it).

5. New research discoveries on neural degenerative diseases

I remember some of you mentioned a friend with Parkinson's, there is a paper came out 10 days ago, researchers at Columbia University has found some connections between Parkinson's and autoimmunity - some of the neurons are mistaken by immune systems and thus attacked and damaged (the pattern found in the autoimmune diseases), so now there is a thinking that treatment methods for autoimmune diseases might be able to help treat Parkinson's: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170621132904.htm

Researchers from MIT have found that 40Hz brain wave can help reduce Beta Amyloid accumulation in mice and raises the hope for new treatment for Alzheimer's: http://news.mit.edu/2016/visual-stimulation-treatment-alzheimer-1207

A lot of new research and new technology will come into play in the coming years that may open up new options and change outlook for lifestyles, these are just a few I can think of. With the technology innovation is pacing up, things are happening faster than before - if we think about the time when the the first iPhone appeared (2007) and music streaming was a new concept and what is today, it is only 10 years! 10 years from now, many things go will beyond what we can imagine right now.

Ah, one more thing I should have included but forgot is the Social Robots - as we read in the book that adult children don't have time to visit seniors as often as they want, social robots that become companions which will be smart enough to learn your interests and interact with you properly will become a possibility. There have been several labs working on this for many years, as the computing capability and the artificial intelligence research is gaining a lot of capital infusion, it will be possible that we may have a robot to join our book club in a not too distant future? That will be fun!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 03, 2017, 04:10:23 PM
"Living symbolically where everything has added meaning" is the warp of Taoism, one of the earliest spiritual traditions touting living in harmony, to the latest magazines shouting Simplify. The result is as the author suggests "it's all made up. They're all telling themselves stories, but not just any old stories. Some of them are very subtle and complex." And so what is our story - I can see it - our bio is a story - we are simply our story - along the way things happen - how we handled what happened is the conflict in any novel - without conflict there is no story, no need for a protagonist which if it is our story the protagonist is us. Or is it --- have we allowed another the role of protagonist/hero in our own story?

What is our over-arching message - a cry for justice, a cry for security, a cry for peace, or a story of action, a story of adapting to change, a story of adventure, a story of harmony, a story of nurturing, a story of ritual, a story of being one with nature. Does the the story take place on limitless oceans and lands, within a community, within a small unit we call family, within a cell (monk or prisoner) - Where did we affect others and how. When did we affect others, during our life span or after. What did we do to love, to praise, to be hateful, to wound. Who are we... a story!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 05, 2017, 07:15:03 AM
Welcome back to Chapter 3! I hope you all had a nice Fourth no matter how you celebrated it.

Lots of great thoughts here, too, thank you, Barbara and hongfan.

On the Day the Earth Stood Still, I really like the first one with Patricia Neal and Michael Rennie, if it can ever be found.

So far as electronics helping us in old age, I'm all for it, robots, self driving cars, anything that helps autonomy. Hongfan, yes, that old game where rumor flies and changes with each person in line, that's certainly the best explanation of the eye thing I've heard.  Or maybe then it should have been you lose an ear. :)

That was interesting, Barbara, on our overarching message, I thought this chapter was full of the most fascinating talking points, I can't wait to hear what you all thought.

So let's begin!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 05, 2017, 07:46:35 AM
The Rise and Fall of  Kominski, my goodness. I'm not surprised, were you?  What drama! What angst! Truth is always stranger than fiction.

 Again he disregards the Center people "for their own good," this time with disastrous and surprising results.

So many swirling ideas, but it was wonderful to start the chapter with a laugh:

Page 114: Hannah:  "How she cooks fish, they would all be better off with tapioca."

Sonya:" She didn't make the fish, she just puts it out."

Hannah:  "She puts out the fish, everybody should think she made the whole luncheon."

Mrs. McCarthy lives! As you know I'm again binge watching (again)  the first  5 seasons of Father Brown and those lines would be right at home in the rivalry between Lady Felicia and Mrs. McCarthy.  Priceless and so funny. So dear. Human nature.   Think of Andy Griffith and Aunt Bea and Clara's rivalries. Kerosene cucumbers, anybody?

What a chapter! Let's start with these:

1. Which of the stories the Center members tell of their backgrounds  made the biggest impression on you and why?

2. "We got to remember that our Jews is like a bouquet of flowers, they come in all different colors. All of them got nice smells. Together they are making a beautiful bouquet."   

"The time was right for a savior and Kominski relished the role." (page 120).

 "He made it clear from the first that his leadership style would be different from any that had previously  been followed at the Center." (page 122).

"Maybe he will get his business done, but in the meantime he will break everyone's heart." (page 125)

3. Where did Kominski first go wrong, do you think? Could he have altered the course of his downfall?  Was there a straw that broke the camel's back? If so, what was it, in your opinion?

4. Why did Shmuel not step in to help? Why did he not speak up if he saw that was happening? Surely there was an opportunity to teach there.

5. What's your favorite quote of Chapter 3?

Mine is on page 126: "and there is a good reason why the messiah has not yet come to the Jews. I will tell you. If he would come, we wouldn't notice because  we would be too busy discussing. He couldn't get a word in." (page 126). What a HOOT this chapter is. I love it.

6. Of the author's list of the three mistakes in running the Center, which do you think was the most egregious?  (listed on page 126 and 127). Why?

7. "A person sometimes knows he has a special reason for being born." (Page 130).  What did you think of the miracle Kominski told? Is there a family without a "legend?" What purpose do these tales  serve?

Maybe that's enough to start us out in this chapter which is absolutely full of talking points. I've put these topics for starters in the heading. If they don't appeal, please feel free to offer your own takes on any of the issues in this chapter.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 05, 2017, 08:25:41 AM
"The passage about " After the Day of Judgement all the Jews will be found in Heaven.  There they will spend eternity ... arguing with the Lord about the right interpretation"

It is so well observed and said, so typical. I loved it.
This chapter describes so well what happens when people get together, and not necessarily seniors, and they try to surpass one another
 - 1) with their aches and pains and suffering  and the hardness of daily life
 - 2) with the accomplishments of their sons or daughters.
 It is like a ritual, a must for getting acquainted.  After that a normal conversation might ensue.
One gets used to listening only with one ear lol

Kominsky  probably had good intentions but it will never do to disregard the wishes of those he wants to help.  At least talk with them and tell them what he proposes to do, not impose his decisions.  After all they were all adults and sane!  Unfortunately the same can happen with children wanting to manage their old parents life.

I saw it in one instance with a lady I knew.  She had decided to move to an old age home because caring for her house, cleaning, cooking etc was getting to be too much. She was not driving, so that one by one she lost contact with her old friends.  Anyway, she settled happyly  in the home, made new friends, participated in the daily activities, in short she florished.
After two or three years  her daughter and SIL  decided that it would be better for her to be near her family.  They had a spare room in the house that they fixed for her with a comfortable armchair and a big TV.  They took that decision and then just told her:  "Next Sunday we are taking you home."
Since then she is alone in that big house while her family is at work the whole day.  When they return, they are too tired to talk much, just inquire if she had a good day  or if there was any interesting program on TV.  She is awfully lonely but cannot even complain.  Isn't it utterly sad?
And what hurt her most is that they did not even ask her, treating her as a feeble minded.

I think Keminsky made the same mistake.  Old people are very proud of their independence. They should be allowed to live and do as they see fit.  Of course I am not talking about the sufferers of Alzheimer.


And a grateful Thank you to hongfan for scanning the chapter for me.   ;D
 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 05, 2017, 04:27:20 PM
Oy Vey. My days are numbered. Perhaps too much celebrating. Like with Basha, waking up to a new one involves a lot of stocktaking. Not counting  the search for wisdom. But that I can find in all your posts...like the amazing promise of technology, and the harmony of the Tao. Not that technology is an unmixed blessing. It may well destroy our autonomy. Getting rewired may be like having a Kominsky, with his new ways, running our lives. As Bubble has pointed out.

I'm still pondering the history one eye/two eyes puzzle. It's complicated by the fact that we are dealing with Jewish history and we have to remember what Shmuel said about that:

'The weight of Jewish history, Jewish thought, is too heavy for these people. They are too small to bear the  Covenant.' p50

Like, 'Remember Sinai!'  Jewish history has unique parameters and there is so much of it.

Canada at 150. We're hardly out of our swaddling clothes.

Israel at 150. Within living memory of being evicted from The Garden. Perhaps a preoccupation with history is like indulging in hindsight at the expense of insight.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 06, 2017, 02:30:18 AM
Loved this - "This Kominsky is a man who is deaf. He comes across a bunch of people with fiddles and drums, jumping around every which way and he thinks they are crazy. He can't hear the music, so he doesn't see they are dancing"

Reminded me of Thoreau - "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

Seems Kominsky heard a different drummer than those at the center where the Center's currency did not include efficiency or public attention or the resurrection of traditions caste aside or anything to remind these folks of their penny-counting, retired-parenthood lifestyle.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 06, 2017, 08:36:05 AM
Bubble:  This is a really good point, it happens today:

I saw it in one instance with a lady I knew.  She had decided to move to an old age home because caring for her house, cleaning, cooking etc was getting to be too much. She was not driving, so that one by one she lost contact with her old friends.  Anyway, she settled happyly  in the home, made new friends, participated in the daily activities, in short she florished.
After two or three years  her daughter and SIL  decided that it would be better for her to be near her family.  They had a spare room in the house that they fixed for her with a comfortable armchair and a big TV.  They took that decision and then just told her:  "Next Sunday we are taking you home."
Since then she is alone in that big house while her family is at work the whole day.  When they return, they are too tired to talk much, just inquire if she had a good day  or if there was any interesting program on TV.  She is awfully lonely but cannot even complain.  Isn't it utterly sad?
And what hurt her most is that they did not even ask her, treating her as a feeble minded


Right.  It's the same thing, and the tragedy is, both sides have their points. Right from the first Kominski, as Barbara said, Seems Kominsky heard a different drummer than those at the center where the Center's currency did not include efficiency or public attention or the resurrection of traditions caste aside or anything to remind these folks of their penny-counting, retired-parenthood lifestyle.

Yes, he heard a different drummer, but his drummer, while probably being right, as in " a pocket of receipts does not make an accounting journal," he's right about that... however his way of imposing his beat seemed to victimize the Center residents whom he hoped to elevate to glory.

What did he overlook? And why?  It really denigrated the actual people it hoped to serve.

For instance, right at first, "Rachel, Sonya, Jacob, sha." What does sha mean? Shut up? "You will all learn to do these things a better way than you are used to. You have practiced all these things by yourself. That's fine, but if you want people not to think you are greenhorns, you got to learn to follow the rules that everyone uses when they have a business meeting. Otherwise it is not legal. That was good enough for the old days, but now we take on bigger things."

Greenhorns? People (what people?) will think you don't fit in, they will point fingers, even tho you think you have assimilated to this country, you're a greenhorn. You don't fit. You stick out. That's a dangerous message to people of their experience.   Even  after all you've managed to do in this country, raising doctors, lawyers,  you are breaking the law. That's the message. Is he right?

That's a pretty strong message for the first meeting. It makes you wonder what qualities a leader really needs to have. He's strong, he's forceful, and he will have his way, but at what cost? What profits a man if he gain the whole world....

I had to laugh, Bubble, at your 2) with the accomplishments of their sons or daughters.

 It is like a ritual, a must for getting acquainted.  After that a normal conversation might ensue.
One gets used to listening only with one ear lol


"My son the doctor," "my son the lawyer," was said so  much it is  a cliche to us but it is very real in some cultures. It speaks of accomplishment.

Jonathan, Oy Vey. My days are numbered. Perhaps too much celebrating. I had to laugh when I saw this, because this chapter has the most Yiddish  expressions in it so far, and some I haven't seen for 50 years or more.  Pilpul, didn't you love that "pilpul in the sky?" (page 126).  Mitzvahs, shiksa, nistar, mefursam, meshuggener (especially meshuggener), I didn't know it had an r on the end of it. Gantzer macher, Yekke, it's a real bath.

What do you all think of the story of Itzak? How could Kominski live with that? How could anybody live with having caused that? How DID he cause it?

How about this statement of the author's, do you agree or disagree?

"It would seem that there is often a direct, inverse relationship between people's actual effective power and their passion for publicly enacting their honor." (page 142). What does that mean?

Do you agree?

Once everybody gets caught up after the holiday,  this is a chapter and a half. Let's take our time with it.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 06, 2017, 11:39:01 AM
I finally finished the chapter last night after getting my two grandchildren settled down for the night.  They sure do keep me busy! 

This chapter is packed full o' nuts!  No one seems to realize how important it is to "listen" to each other.  Shmuel again is the level headed, foreseer of what the end results will be with electing Kominsky as the president of the Center.  I'm beginning to see Shmuel as a Godlike image who sits back and watches the people destroy their own selves.  I liked Kominsky's story as a child feeling as though he was saved by Elijah, and was meant to go on to do great things.  Too bad he didn't have the insight and wisdom to help him accomplish those great things for the Center. He did indeed revitalize the Center by bringing in new members and generating new projects and schemes. 

pg.  120  The times were ripe for a savior and Kominsky relished the role.  His Center classes were well-attended.  He took over the Oneg Shabbat ceremony and soon attracted more people.  The Center underwent a transformation.  Anxiety turned to hope and hope to ambition.  Cooperation such as had never before occurred among the members was now the norm.  Everyone worked enthusiastically with Kominsky and for the next few months, he enjoyed great popularity.

No one minded the differences between Kominsky and the Center people because everyone knew he had the Center's interests at heart and was very good at "getting things done."
 

So..... what went wrong?  As soon as Kominsky started asking for order and proper ways to run the Center the people turned on him.  They were not willing to make the changes necessary to run an efficient Center.   To them they felt Kominsky was simply a business man, and was not able to understand the personal side, which was important to all the people there. 

pg.  125  (Shmuel)  "This on comes in here and understands nothing,"  he said referring to Kominsky.  "Maybe he will get his business done, but in the meantime he will break everyone's heart."  "You can count on what I am telling you.  He comes in here like a meshiach, and there is a good reason why the meshiach has not yet come to the Jews.  I will tell you.  If he would come we wouldn't notice becauses we would be too busy discussing.  He wouldn't get a word in.  We have a midrash on this.  After the Day of Judgement, all the Jews will be found in Heaven.  There they spend eternity studying Torah together, at last arguing with the Lord Himself about the right interpretation of His Law.  This is the Jew's idea of Paradise.  Do we have angels peacefully riding on clouds with their harps playing, like the Gentiles?  No, we have a big debate with God, a pilpul in the sky.  People who fight with God won't put up with a dwarf who thinks he is a giant.  So you should plan on it, that this Kominsky meshiach will not keep these people in his pocket for very long."

Again, Shmuel's insight was right on.  This actually made me laugh out loud when I read it because his comparison to the Jews in Heaven vs the Gentile's was humorous, even though I am sure he was being serious. 

After I was finished reading this chapter I thought a better title for it would have been,  "The Rise and Fall of Jerusalem"  I personally am still struggling with how the Jews refuse to follow their religious customs and resisted Kominsky wanting them to turn back to practicing them.  Them turning from believing in God, and also turning from their religious practices seem so counter productive to me.  We know time and time again in the Bible what happens to tribes, people, leaders who go against God.  I'm supposing my best assessment for their choices is that they feel they have already seen and lost so much, what have they got to lose in America, to no longer want or need God or religion.   

Jonathan, I felt like you, numbered days after these past few days of celebrating the 4th of July.  I can't wait for my life to go back to being just a little bit boring. 

Bubble,  Reading your post about the friend going to the elderly home, finding friends and interests, then being taken out to just sit all day by herself breaks my heart.  Why couldn't she speak up for herself?  Family does not always know what is best for their loved ones.  Maybe like Kominsky they felt from a business/financial sense it would be better to have her home with them, but did they consider how she had flourished in her new life with having interactions with other people?  I know my family/friend Marilyn is loving having all her friends at the elderly center she is at, so much so she doesn't go out as much with the family to events.  She attended our 4th of July family celebration and was very happy, but did not stay long.   

Ginny,
Quote
What do you all think of the story of Itzak? How could Kominski live with that? How could anybody live with having caused that? How DID he cause it?

I'm not so sure Kominsky "caused" Itza's stroke.  I never like placing blame on anyone, due to a person's health condition.  When you are as old as Itzak, it seems inevitable he would have some health issues, and maybe the excitement and hurt did bring on the stroke, but I just don't think it would be fair to say it was Kominsky's fault, and expect he should have to live with this.  No different than Shmuel dying after his last emotional talk with Myerhoff.  These are elderly people with health issues, in time something will result from them. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 06, 2017, 01:02:18 PM
bellamarie, they did not ask my friend what she wanted.  She was put in front of a "fait accompli", done and decided for her.
They gave her a surprise and after it was done, she had no choice.  A little like Kominsky accepting Passover "presents" for the people  he represented.


   "  Them turning from believing in God, and also turning from their religious practices seem so counter productive to me. "

I don't think they really stopped believing in God, I believe that they just stopped worshiping in the old ways.  So many of the rules seemed outdated when all around them they saw modern ways of living. 
Many people believe that many rules of kashrut were devised for health reason, because sanitation in the old days was poor.  For example the mixing of milk and meat would make the meat  spoil much faster when there is no refrigeration.
They still saw themselves united as Jews, even if they rode a bus on Shabbath or used electricity and cooked that day.
That certainly is not going against God!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 06, 2017, 02:44:44 PM
'After the Day of Judgement, all Jews will be found in Heaven.'

Even Kominsky? Not likely. He would definitely try to put an end to the pilpul. He would find a reason. On earth...'...he made a series of grave blunders that constituted overt violations of their norms...' see p127. Soon, it seemed, he could do nothing right. But what was the real problem they had with him? He tried to silence them. For people who like to talk, that was intolerable. Heaven will be all talk!!!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 06, 2017, 03:05:58 PM
Over the years I made many visits to a certain Old Folks Home, which provided a full range of care. Dad was one of the founders. Walking the hallway once, I stopped to say hello to an elderly lady who was cheerfully cruising along in her chair. I'm a nonagenarian, she told me. I congratulated her. She congratulated me for knowing what she was talking about. No one else did. In the same spirit I wished her well and assured her that the Roman Empire would call on her when she turned into a Centurion. A story making the rounds there had someone calling on a friend  who was in cognitive decline, with serious loss of memory. 'Who am I?' he asked the resident friend?' And he got the short, snappy answer: 'Go to the main desk. They'll tell you.'
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 06, 2017, 11:52:09 PM
Very interesting chapter! And I have a few questions came to my mind:

To give is a mitzva. It comes back to you in Paradise. It is said, "The one who makes the life of a poor man longer by charity, when his time comes to die, he will have his own life lengthened." (Page 129)

I think I understand the goodness about giving, but then later there are multiple places where it seems there is a believe that receiving a charity is not good, something like negative credit, or canceling out good deeds. That I don't understand.

If A receives a charity from B, isn't that A is doing a charity to B too because now A helps B finishes a good deed? Why it is a bad thing, a negative credit? Long time ago I didn't understand why Buddhist monks go around begging for meals, it seemed an important good practice, and years later I sort of think I got it - the monks were creating opportunities for people to do good deeds (but I didn't look into Buddhism books so I don't know if this understanding is right or wrong), but I think it makes sense to me.

Bubble, do you know if this receiving is not good comes from Judaism teaching or people's interpretation?

I found the story on the Lamed-vav is fascinating. "In each generation is coming one of them, and he holds up the world, so great is his justice." Somewhere later it also said because of the Lamed-vav, God justifies the existence of human kind.

I wonder how they "holds up the world" because as it says they themselves may not know they are among the Lamed-vav, they may just live their lives like ordinary persons. And what's the origins of those Lamed-vav, who are they? why are they so great - are they humans too, maybe supermen? It's just fascinating.

On page 139, Kominsky said "To insult a man is like a murder", he quoted in Hebrew. then later "The great Maimonides said, 'When there is no way to give the truth except to insult ten thousand fools, overlook the anger of the foos and save the truth."

I guess in old culture, we have all kinds of quotes that you can employ for your purpose even some times seemingly conflicting with each other? Does this sound conflicting to you? Or shall I read them together as - When there is no way to give the truth other than murder ten thousand people, then just go ahead?


"With God, without God, with kosher, without kosher, a Jew is a Jew" (Basha on page 138)

It sounds to me that a Jew here is defined ultimately by ethnicity or bloodline, not by observing Judaism or not.

Bubble, I am curious what is the "minimum requirement" for being a Judaism follower?

Also, Bubble, I wanted to ask you earlier but forgot, I sort of understand the logic of Zionism - you want to go back to the land of your ancestors, and have an independent nation for all Jewish people, particularly given what have happened in history. But could you help me understand the logic against Zionism? Shmuel is not in favor of Zionism, but I don't know what is the logic against Zionism.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 07, 2017, 12:31:35 AM
hongfan,  Thank you for pointing out the numerous contradictory or at the least confusing quotes in this chapter.  I thought my head was spinning when I read them.  It's like "Damned if you do, and damned if you don't."  This Italian/American is sitting here going.... Mama Mia, make up your mind will ya.

Quote
It sounds to me that a Jew here is defined ultimately by ethnicity or bloodline, not by observing Judaism or not.

I'm getting the same understanding.  It's to be born a Jew, that is why a converted Jew in their opinion can never BE a Jew.

Jonathan pointed out this statement, questioning whether Kominsky would in fact be in Heaven.

'After the Day of Judgement, all Jews will be found in Heaven.'

Before that statement it is said, "We have a midrash on this."  So they believe ALL Jews will go to Heaven.  As a Catholic, this is what we refer to as Sin of presumption or some call it assumption.  I am suspecting because they believe the Jews are God's chosen people they will all go to Heaven....yet the Bible teaches, you must believe in God to enter Heaven.  So what happens to those who do not believe in God?  And since we are dealing with tongue twisters or contradictions in this particular chapter, let me ask, how can the Jews who don't believe in God, be arguing with God in Heaven about His Laws?

Oh mio Dio!


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 07, 2017, 02:09:00 AM
I'm wondering if it is more the author's views that bother me than the life choices and views held by those who are part of the Center...

For instance - "Oppressed peoples whose lives are largely determined by forces beyond their control are often preoccupied with "face" and develop subtle gradations of worth and honor in various terms - precise variations in skin color, minute distinctions of dress, and the like. Economic impotence, social inferiority vis-à-vis other groups, removal from centers of authority and influence are among the conditions leading to a great concern with honor. Socially disdained groups have to find their own standards, generating internal codes for taking each other's measure. Only by doing so can they avoid the devastating consequences of judging themselves in the terms used by people who disdain them, in whose system they will always amount to nothing."

I just shake my head in unbelievable amazement - how does she come up with this stuff - Can't help it but I compare this paragraph to our Two Women that we read last fall - talk about oppressed - they were being left alone with only their personal things and an ax the one woman's grandson threw into a tree and her daughter gave her a skin that could be stripped into straps and laces - left in the middle of the northern wilderness in dead of winter - no food, just there personal belongings - left to die by forces the women had no control to change - the only 'face' they were concerned about was their own living face and to keep it alive. They dug deep and found skills learned as children and strength in their body they forgot they had - the only dress they were concerned about was how they could keep themselves warm.

Sure it was survival but then alone in our elder years that is a concern if we have no family showering us with care - The Two Women lived in the now and did not worry what their people thought - they had some thoughts about each other but they were not judging in a negative way - they depended on each other for survival and for stories, and humor. They were successful, storing up all the food they needed and then some and used the evenings to make things for each other and just things to keep their hands busy.

Yes, their people thought they were an economic drain and yes, it turned out they saved their people but that was not their intent - they had no intent to lord it over their people or to show their people they were wrong but they did want to protect themselves after seeing what their people did to them which they had no control to stop - now they had some control - they had a stockpile of food and handmade warm clothes that the people needed and gradually they allowed some of the people to visit them after they were very generous helping the people after they were first found.

And so in that I can see a similarity - both groups the Two Women and those in the Center keep to themselves as protection however that is where it ends - those in the Center, according to the author, were concerned with the opinion of others (who all these 'others' are is never really explained) and lived to protect themselves from the disdain of others - is that true or is that only the author's interpretation of what she thought was important - those in the Center did seem to have a pride in the accomplishments and titles earned by their children, where I did not pick up among the two women there was a pride they were vicariously owning defined as the strength or hunting skills of the one woman's children. They seemed to live for themselves.

Seems to me even today without adapting to a wilderness for survival, to be a part of a group would be more than creating ritual but would be 'doing' things - for instance sewing and if one sews a group soon sews, sharing their accomplishment just like a big quilting bee with storytelling, chatting, singing, a small group in the corner making music - busy hands have little room for worrying about 'face' and each person is their own authority - even quilting everyone takes turns being a leader based on that part of setting up the quilt and finishing the quilt that they know best. Yes, leadership is knowledge and skill based and all leadership is easy with no ceremony or rules. That was Kominsky's problem, he kept wanting rules so that if he could not control the group the rules would do the controlling.

Yes, I've seen groups of retired men who ran a small company or were CEOs of larger corporations or were the owners of a family company and now the company has passed to their sons - they do seem to feel the need to control their surroundings and often attending the meeting of the philanthropic group they join they make a huge deal over where the chairs are placed and who will set up the chairs but, once the meeting starts they loose all need to put on a pretense  to protect 'face', often an inner 'face' that keeps them in control of who they are based on who they were - during the meeting they are all in, sharing and deciding and having a great old time using their skills in a cooperative fashion knowing the larger community no longer takes them seriously unless, they can acquire considerable resources that allows them to be tolerated. Those in the Center do on a lesser scale in keeping with their work experience philanthropic activities and events to gather more resources for their philanthropic endeavor - but I get the impression they are the ones measuring what they do as inadequate - keeping alive the concept that they are inadequate.   

That seems to be the missing link among those in the Center - it is not a case of wealth - from their meager resources they want to give with no ceremony or acknowledgment - what is missing is they do not seem to realize their own worth and the worth the center offers to the beach community.

It is not about measuring your worth based on other's approval or disdain - To their people the Two Women were worthless and therefore, left to die - Retirement is simply an acceptable and civilized way of saying you no longer have worth to the company - Children who ignore you are saying you have no worth to our current lives so, when they have time they will visit. The children maybe would visit more often if they could control the parents who no longer add worth to their lives - it is easier, 'out of sight out of mind' - Yes, lots of oppression - but to buy into that, is giving power to all the people and systems in their lives that made them feel worthless - where as, some folks dig deep and find their worth and do not worry about saving face but rather use their accumulated knowledge and their lifetime of developed skills to create a life where there is no room for being honored or judged.

Jewish or not, I have seen elders who do just what this group from the Center is doing - sad - there is so much life that can be by just 'doing' 'making' 'creating' - if this group of people could raise children who became doctors and lawyers etc. then they were not stupid - not educated does not mean stupid or worthless - I want to shake them all...
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 07, 2017, 06:15:08 AM
About the legend of the Lamed-vav

http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/article/zz/20120519/NEWS/120518914 (http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/article/zz/20120519/NEWS/120518914)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 07, 2017, 07:02:22 AM
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/NumberourDayscover.jpg)


They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it on subjects in the USA, and let them speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us June 15! 

Questions to Ponder on  Chapter 1

Chapter 3: The Rise and Fall of Kominsky: Mop Up Thoughts and Questions:


1. What do you think the Center means to the Folks in the book?  (I think of them now as extended family).   If they did not have this Center, what would they do?

2. What made for successful aging among the elders?

3.  What do you think the psalm "So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom" means to you?  What does it mean to them?

4. The title of the book is actually: Number Our Days: A Triumph of Continuity and Culture Among Jewish Old People in an Urban Ghetto. I just noticed that word Triumph this morning. IS this a triumph so far? We have half of the book left yet. So far, is it a Triumph of Continuity and Culture?

Why or why not?

 5. And here's one expressed in a letter to a website talking about the book (but unfortunately not discussing it or providing questions): The elders emphasize that they do not believe in the teachings of Judaism due to the consequences of religion during the Holocaust. However, they still hold dearly to their traditions. Myerhoff observes and explains that although the Jewish elderly are not religious, they still practice and uphold the Jewish practices in order to keep their culture alive. They cherish education and scripture study in order to keep their culture rich for the generations to come.

Is THAT why they are holding to their traditions?

What do you think?


 

http://www.oztorah.com/2009/08/36-hidden-saints-ask-the-rabbi/ (http://www.oztorah.com/2009/08/36-hidden-saints-ask-the-rabbi/)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 07, 2017, 07:18:25 AM
Bellamarie, you misunderstand me. What do you all think of the story of Itzak? How could Kominski live with that? How could anybody live with having caused that? How DID he cause it?

I'm not talking about the physical manifestations or causation  of a stroke?

You say: I'm not so sure Kominsky "caused" Itza's stroke.  I never like placing blame on anyone, due to a person's health condition.  When you are as old as Itzak, it seems inevitable he would have some health issues, and maybe the excitement and hurt did bring on the stroke, but I just don't think it would be fair to say it was Kominsky's fault, and expect he should have to live with this.  No different than Shmuel dying after his last emotional talk with Myerhoff.  These are elderly people with health issues, in time something will result from them. 

You have mentioned several times in that post you think Shmuel is "level headed," and "right on" in this insights.

Here's one he gave on the Itzak situation:


"Izak was a simple man, a good enough man, that's all. Is Kominsky's blood redder than Isak's he somehow has the right to destroy him?

To destroy a man is as though you destroy the whole world. This is from the Talmud. '"


Destroy is the word I'd use.  No matter how strong  a person might be or thinks he is, for a religious leader to publicly shame, humiliate and condemn a person in the very place of worship...

1. "Meekly Itzak turned to the people around him. 'Does he think I line my pockets with this money? Does he calls me a gonif?'" (Thief). (page 133)


2. "Itzak's wife had gone home and brought back his box of receipts and money. He was shuffling bits of paper from his pockets into piles on the table, tears sliding steadily from beneath his glasses into the cigar box." (136). [/b]

for no other reason than the method of accounting does not fit somebody else's  own vision, to denigrate and slander that person to the other members... 

3. ("Evidently Kominski had managed to insult quite a few people on these short visits.  Basha reported that he head told her that Itzak, once a butcher, was always known to have a heavy thumb, before with his meat, now with the Center's money'") (139)

 is shameful and disgusting, to me.

The result:

Said Rachel, "He thinks we murdered him because we insulted him (Kominski). He never gives  a think to the insult he gave to Itzak.  After that happened Itzak cried for a  week." (139-140)

They voted in a new treasurer. "And Itzak refused to continue as treasurer. His eyes had grown steadily worse. Shortly after, he had a stroke."  (140).


but I just don't think it would be fair to say it was Kominsky's fault, and expect he should have to live with this. 

I  think it's fair to say  that crying for a week does nothing for one's blood pressure at any age, nor does public humiliation,  and slander, and I doubt it did anything for Itzak, given that as we age, so do our blood vessels and the capacity for standing this kind of stress.


 No different than Shmuel dying after his last emotional talk with Myerhoff.


Please show me where Myerhoff did the same to Shmuel.  I see her treating him with respect, almost the exact opposite of Kominsky's treatment of Itzak.


But perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel?  The book is not over, I have not read beyond this chapter but hopefully there may yet be something  ameliorating or kind from Kominsky. Nobody  can tell me he didn't feel guilt over that. Perhaps when he became an old man himself and the sins of his youth which he thought he'd long forgotten or done for a good reason wake him up in the middle of the night, like they do for everybody else.

  I am a firm believer in "what  goes around, comes around. "


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 07, 2017, 07:47:36 AM
You know what strikes me about this book? The people in it are  talking about important things. It's quite different from the normal summer fare, I'm glad we've tackled it, because of our thoughtful posters who are not afraid to tackle such issues.

Barbara, what a post! You've got a million jumping off places for discussion, I can hardly wait to tackle some of them!

You gave a wonderful comparison to the book Two  Women,  too.

What do the rest of you think about some of these points?

I'm wondering if it is more the author's views that bother me than the life choices and views held by those who are part of the Center...

I think that's a fair question at this point. How do the rest of you see the author's interpretation of the people and the events here? Is she right? Wrong? Does her interpretation help? Is it accurate, do you think?

and lived to protect themselves from the disdain of others - is that true or is that only the author's interpretation of what she thought was important -


That's a good question, too.  What do the rest of you think?



I'm not following this logic as well as I might be here, help me out?  You say:


It is not about measuring your worth based on other's approval or disdain


But then you say:

, and not to do so is  but to buy into that, is giving power to all the people and systems in their lives that made them feel worthless - where as, some folks dig deep and find their worth and do not worry about saving face but rather use their accumulated knowledge and their lifetime of developed skills to create a life where there is no room for being honored or judged.

There's something here that doesn't add up, to me. I don't think that being honored or judged by others is my fault or has anything to do with my own sense of worth.  I don't think that if I don't stand up to people who do criticize or condemn me that I am giving them more power to "make me feel" worthless.  They can't "make" me feel anything about myself.   I don't understand the logic there, the giving of "power" to somebody over me if I don't stand up for myself.   What am I missing?

What of the people who don't want to spend their lives in an every day struggle especially in our now contentious world (and I think that is one thing the author got right, see next post)  fighting for what everybody deserves: respect and to live in peace? Is there no place for them? Do the meek Itzaks then deserve to be crushed? Stand up for yourself, Itzak? Why should he have to? Why can't everybody treat him the way they would like to be treated themselves? I don't see the fault here as Itzak's. Do you?

Jonathan, LOVE the Centurion story, how clever. Did you make that up yourself? Why did your Father found this home?

Hongfan, those are good questions.  139, Kominsky said "To insult a man is like a murder", he quoted in Hebrew. then later "The great Maimonides said, 'When there is no way to give the truth except to insult ten thousand fools, overlook the anger of the fools and save the truth."

I guess in old culture, we have all kinds of quotes that you can employ for your purpose even some times seemingly conflicting with each other? Does this sound conflicting to you? Or shall I read them together as - When there is no way to give the truth other than murder ten thousand people, then just go ahead?

What do you all think? The 10,000 fools issue is really something. I've been thinking about that since I read it.

Here's another question (I have more questions than answers): There seem to be so many things in Judaism which we can relate to as human beings, regardless of our own faith. I wonder: is there an ancient culture or religion which does not have schisms and sects which believe different things because of the various teachings of the people in it?


For that matter is there an ancient culture or religion without people who do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, act badly? .

I am struggling with the idea that here we have more commonality with the people in the Center regardless of our own religious beliefs than we do differences, but I've been struggling with that since we started. What are your thoughts on that?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 07, 2017, 08:18:18 AM
I believe I understand this statement now that the author made, but I may not be interpreting it correctly, what do you think?

"It would seem that there is often a direct, inverse relationship between people's actual effective power and their passion for publicly enacting their honor." (page 142).

Barbara addresses this in her last post, very well. But I think the root cause is founded in something else. Maybe one causes the other.  Remember Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present?

  "This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy."

We are all different people. I think the root of a person's wanting to defend his honor vociferously in public (especially in 2017) is his own  Ignorance. (Here  I am not talking about somebody who has been assaulted criminally, or wrongly,  I am talking about somebody who just feels "disrespected" in general.) Is there a term for that Discontent? It's a chip the size of Maryland on their shoulder in general.   Think of the Mafia, in the movies. You say the wrong thing and BINGO you're dead, because you didn't show RESPECT.


It reminds me of the old Vaudeville Routine: "Martha." Man is standing on the porch. For some reason in his past the  name "Martha" sets him off. So he's standing there in the skit talking to a man on his porch,  and somebody says "Martha," and he's relating what happened. The person said "Martha," and he says "Martha? Slowly I turned, step by step I crept up on him, and then.... " (he begins beating the man he's talking to with some kind of balloon or something. The audience laughs.  Then the poor man says something and the word Martha is mentioned again and it happens again, and everybody laughs.

But there's nothing funny about it in life. And that's what's happening to us in 2017, I think. It doesn't take much to trigger an outburst.  I personally think it all stems from Ignorance,  (and to me, Ignorance and amount of education are not the same thing). It's a simple lack of knowledge about others,  or wanting to learn about  or understand others, and their beliefs and cultures, and moreover their right to have them that causes it. 


The thinking seems to be, I feel  no respect or...what's the word, attention.....? to my needs from others in life, I also want to be a star, why am I not a star?  Why not me? How are they better? Who speaks for me? I want  to stand out and to have my 15  seconds of fame. I  have no reason to expect this attention,  I've done nothing,  so I will demand it. I am entitled to it.  I've got a good sense of self worth, and you better acknowledge it. Once I demand it publicly,  I will feel better after I've shot off my mouth. I feel aggrieved by things in general.  I'm going to tell the world.  And I admire people who do the same. 

These people don't seem  understand that speechlessness that results at such Ignorance is not the same as winning (accomplishing their goal of earning attention or respect or whatever they think it is).  There, they think, I've done it, nobody is saying anything: I've won..

 Er...no, that's not what's happened. People are speechless because they can't fathom such ignorance.

I mean think of the movie Amadeus. Mozart says, "One hears such sounds, and what can one say, but: 'Salieri.'"

One hears such sounds, and what can one say? Where can one even start?   Turn on the TV:  such ranting on TV, it's pitiful. Our country is now beset by Media Screamers, desk pounders, the Outraged.  When Khrushchev did it at the UN, we thought he was comical. Maybe we need to think again before it's too late.

I'll step off my soapbox and stop ranting, myself, now, :) but how did YOU interpret that line and, more importantly IS the author right?

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 07, 2017, 09:31:10 AM
Bubble, thank you very much for the links. I have listened to some lectures on Judaism before but the more I read this book, the more I feel I have known so little, so I ordered three more audio books/lectures on Judaism and Jewish histories last night, I am very glad that we have picked this book! I guess by the end of the summer, I will be a much wiser person!

I'm wondering if it is more the author's views that bother me than the life choices and views held by those who are part of the Center...

- I tend to think it's author's views, I somehow feel she is trying to squeeze the Center people's life into some anthropology theory or model - this is a funded anthropology project, so she needed to make it a scholarly looking report in some ways, I guess, and in doing that, her interpretation did come sometimes questionable to me.

"It would seem that there is often a direct, inverse relationship between people's actual effective power and their passion for publicly enacting their honor." (page 142).

Ginny - your interpretation is interesting, I haven't thought about it from that angle and need to think more about it.

What came to my mind when I first read this line is the following: it is about the motivation of the leader and the trust that he/she earns. When people sees the motivation of the leader is not for himself/herself (including earning fame or monetary return), they would put more trust into this person and thus the leader becomes more effective in influencing his/her people. The moment people suspects the motivation of the leader connected to personal fame ("passion for publicly enacting their honor") or other personal gains, they will start to withdraw their trust and thus the leader's influence will wither and she/her becomes less effective.

It is all more interesting that we read one thing in the book somewhat differently, that itself adds fascinating perspectives!

I wonder: is there an ancient culture or religion which does not have schisms and sects which believe different things because of the various teachings of the people in it?

- In ancient Chinese literatures we tend to think in the early days people were living in harmony - I remember that Greeks also have this five stages of human phases with the first stage everything went well (Ovid then adopted it into four stages)? Seems since then human kind has been on a continuous decay with increasing dividing and confrontations. So if you ask me for today, I am not aware of a big culture or religion with ancient lineage that doesn't have schisms and sects, but what about small groups of people in a very remote place on earth which has a long history and we don't know, supposedly they were relatively on a much slower decay rate? Maybe.

In my mind, I am thinking if one day I am walking and see an ant, and I tell the ant who I am. I wonder what the ant will tell other ants about me, and what the story will be among the ants after 100 years? I would imagine by then there will be  100 versions about me? But maybe for the first year or two there was only one version?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 07, 2017, 09:51:45 AM
Ginny, I only meant that I don't think anyone can be to blame when someone of Itzak or Shmuel's age has a stroke.  I'm a firm believer in it's how we our selves react to how a person treats us, is more to the point.  Kominsky was only trying to make Itzak and the Center realize you can't keep records by carrying around pieces of paper in your pocket or a small box.  A ledger is the proper way to keep records and it needed to be done that way.  Yes, it was humiliating, hurtful and offensive since the people have trusted him for all these years, but to cry over it for a week seemed a bit extreme. 

Quote
Please show me where Myerhoff did the same to Shmuel.  I see her treating him with respect, almost the exact opposite of Kominsky's treatment of Itzak.

I did not mean to intimate that Myerhoff treated Shmuel the same as Kominsky did Itzak.  I only meant that Shmuel also died after having an emotional talk with her.  I don't think someone can be blamed for an elderly person dying, who possibly already had underlying health issues.  These people at the Center seem to treat each other badly all the time.  It's their second nature, so to point out one person's faults seems a bit hypocritical when many of them ridicule, humiliate and treat each other abrasively.  I'm not defending Kominsky's behavior or excusing it, I'm only saying this type of behavior is not something unexpected in the Center. They publicly humiliated Shmuel and Kominsky as well. In my opinion there is a lot of blame to go around when it comes to behaving badly in the Center. They seem to have a love/hate relationship in the Center.

You see it one way, I see it another, no one has to be right or wrong, it's simply our own personal perception of the cause and effect. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 07, 2017, 10:02:10 AM
hongfan
Quote
It is all more interesting that we read one thing in the book somewhat differently, that itself adds fascinating perspectives!

We were posting at the same time.  I completely agree with this statement, and we must respect each other's fascinating perspectives, even when they are not the same as our own. 

Quote
I am very glad that we have picked this book! I guess by the end of the summer, I will be a much wiser person!

I'm going to be wiser or even more confused than ever!    :o :-\ ;)

I am also feeling the author is interjecting her own interpretation in places that could be viewed differently if we sat and observed ourselves, but then again, it is her project. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 07, 2017, 10:04:24 AM
Barbara, what a great post.
I agree with you that the group of people in the center do not see themselves as something special, as worthy of attention. But, and that is a big but, they have pride of who they are, they cling to the past and their small achievements and that is why they can be hurt very deeply.  I think it is a feeling very much found among the seniors in homes, and possibly among all of us.
When you have nothing, face is very important and you look for approval and appreciation, no matter exactly for what, being  baking a cake, arranging flowers or giving a home made recipe for curing a cough.
So yes, I think Itzak was totally crushed by K.'s words in front of all.

I relate to that personally.  I had been working for over three years in an office where I dealt mostly with English speaking people.  Then the "boss" favored another secretary who was always praising him and doing "favors" while complaining about me not being  efficient. Over the week end I got a phone call telling me I did not need to come back as they thought I was not good enough in English! I go severance but I was in depression for six months.  I pulled myself together in finally realizing I was not incompetent.  The image on how we see  ourselves and  that we want present to others is very important.

Hogfan, I really don't know what to answer about Zionism.  I suppose we all want  the Jewish people to come back here, I am not sure this is Zionism.  I never thought about it.  As a routine, we had a blue box at home when I was a kid, and regularly put coins in it  after the creation of Israel, so as to help buying land, or sending that to help the new immigrants.




"With God, without God, with kosher, without kosher, a Jew is a Jew" (Basha on page 138)

It sounds to me that a Jew here is defined ultimately by ethnicity or bloodline, not by observing Judaism or not. "


Right!  A jew is one by birth, from a Jewish mother since we follow the matriarchal line.  Also we do not push or encourage others to convert.

About living in harmony, I am told that that is the precept taught and believed in the Bahai religion.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 07, 2017, 11:03:51 AM
I need to re-read these posts - we are each picking up, even from each other, a slightly different take - what a great group of individuals we are as we each see something in the story - love it - Bubble loved the story of the 12 righteous men - scratching my head - is having a different opinion, that is shared by even another author making you righteous - yep, I can relate to Velma Wallis' version of elderhood far more than how Barbar Myerhoff is presenting her interpretation of elderhood.

Ginny to me the two sentences relate perfectly - my thinking is that to measure your own worth based on receiving the honor or disdain of others is going to sink you - it is as if using others as your mirror and what they mirror back - then you accept as your worth their opinion, their mirrored back image of you - rather than looking inward and assessing your own contributions to life of the community (after all these folks all successfully raised children to be professionals even if their own formal education was lacking and they each contribute to the fund for Israel to plant trees - my point is if you cannot see your own worth why in the world would you expect anyone else to do that job for you...? And if you are using others as your mirror you are giving them power that is taking from your own agency!)

OK I am trying trying trying to get Earthlink to understand my problem for 3 days now - seems my email messages are not being received by others and here I am in the middle of a transaction with a seller in Georgetown, which on a good day with low traffic is 40 minutes away and so we depend on email -  grrr - Those employees whose job it is to answer are easy to talk with and get it but, then she has to type or text or whatever she does the problem to the tech nerds who speak a totally different language and insist that I should receive bounce back notices when my email does not go through and I do not have that experience - so of course they do not want to own it - I would switch except this email address is printed on everything I use... onward to tackle the world of technology .

It may be this evening before I can get back to re-read and get into the way we are each seeing this story.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 07, 2017, 12:08:37 PM
Barbara, is Earthlink your internet service provider and that is why you are using them for your email server? You might want to think about using GMail. I used to use verizon.net for my email because Verizon is my internet service provider, but it has got very bad - lost emails and couldn't receive emails while overseas, etc. And finally Verizon has announced they will shut it down. I guess providing email service is no longer helping them the business and thus they are treating it as a cost loss item, and it can only become worse from there on. Your experience with Earthlink seems similar.

It's a pain to switch email account but it might be better to do it sooner than later? Also, I find GMail is much better in filtering out junk mails (given Google some appreciation for that their cleverness on figuring out who is who), my Verizon email is 90% junk mails by the time I closed it.

But just one thing you want to keep in mind, Google saves all our data, their machines read our emails and everything we do on the internet. So don't be surprised if one day if you write in your email says "attached for your reference" and forgot to attach a file, then after you hit "send", a window pop saying "hello, you said attached, but I don't find any attached file, are you sure..." But, all of us who have been in high tech industry know that our privacy has been lost long time ago anyway, so nothing more to loose, right?

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 07, 2017, 12:18:04 PM
Have you heard of "mirror neuron"? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron

I think biologically we are wired to mirror each other particularly on emotions - why we smile when we see smiles? To "decouple" from others need training, particularly decouple from ones that you care, this is a bit go against biology, but reasoning and rationale faculty we have would help somewhat, I think, whether you can completely decouple is questionable.

This may not directly related to posts from Barbara and Ginny, but something triggered my thoughts.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 07, 2017, 12:21:47 PM
Bahai religion - it is founded in 19th century and thus a religion in its infancy?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 07, 2017, 12:45:23 PM
I need to re-read these posts - we are each picking up, even from each other, a slightly different take - what a great group of individuals we are as we each see something in the story - love it - Bubble loved the story of the 12 righteous men - scratching my head - is having a different opinion, that is shared by even another author making you righteous - yep, I can relate to Velma Wallis' version of elderhood far more than how Barbar Myerhoff is presenting her interpretation of elderhood.

Ginny to me the two sentences relate perfectly - my thinking is that to measure your own worth based on receiving the honor or disdain of others is going to sink you - it is as if using others as your mirror and what they mirror back - then you accept as your worth their opinion, their mirrored back image of you - rather than looking inward and assessing your own contributions to the life of the community (after all these folks all successfully raised children to be professionals even if their own formal education was lacking and they each contribute to the fund for Israel to plant trees - my point is if you cannot see your own worth why in the world would you expect anyone else to do that job for you...? And if you are using others as your mirror you are giving them power that is taking from your own agency!)

OK I am trying trying trying to get Earthlink to understand my problem for 3 days now - seems my email messages are not being received by others and here I am in the middle of a transaction with a seller in Georgetown, which on a good day with low traffic is 40 minutes away and so we depend on email -  grrr - Those employees whose job it is to answer are easy to talk with and get it but, then she has to type or text or whatever she does the problem to the tech nerds who speak a totally different language and insist that I should receive bounce back notices when my email does not go through and I do not have that experience - so of course they do not want to own it - I would switch except this email address is printed on everything I use... onward to tackle the world of technology .

It may be this evening before I can get back to re-read and get into the way we are each seeing this story.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 07, 2017, 01:23:52 PM
Barb, I totally get what you are saying about giving others the power, of your worth.

(http://theboldlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/PicMonkey-approval.jpg)

Someone please feel free to resize this.  Thank you.

Not to beat a dead horse, but Itzak should have known he was a trustworthy person, he questioned his own self worth.  Everyone at the Center has trusted him all these years.  To take what Kominsky was saying as an insult against his integrity, about wanting to keep legal, ledge-able, records, to me was not necessary. 

pg.  133   "Does he call me a gonif ?(theif)"   

It is how Itzak reacted that caused the most commotion.  He could have understood that records are something that should be considered, instead of carrying pieces of paper around in his pockets that could fall out and be lost, or stuffing them in a cigar box, instead he took it as a personal attack, and became emotional. 

Kominsky did have good intentions, he just did not realize he needed to approach his changes in a way for the people to feel like they were involved and were being respected.  He started showing favortism, ignoring their wishes, bringing in outsiders making the Center people feel like outsiders themselves, and accepting charity making them feel like paupers to the outside world, this was too much for them to continue to work with him.  This told me a lot of the Center people:

pg.  125  "The Center people had a strong appetite for questioning authority of all kinds, in part developed in response to exile, in part issuing from their theology, which encourages each individual to actively scrutinize even the teachings of the Lord of the Universe.   It was the kind of talk that Kominsky meant when he spoke of "davening" over the minutes.  It was a source of excitement, and opportunity for competition, a chance to display one's learning. But it was not conducive to making decisions and using time efficiently.

You can't argue and disagree just for the sake of it.  You have to at some point be willing to listen, sort through what is being said, and then find a common ground.  I feel like when these people in the Center were feeling like they were being silenced, overlooked, and then asked to bring back the practices of their religion they decided Kominsky was no longer who they wanted as their president.  It's like the saying goes,  "They threw the baby out with the bath water." There was no compromising on either side, so now we will see what becomes of the Center that was in dire straits before Kominsky took over.  I have not read ahead, so it will be interesting to see how they are able to keep it going.     
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 07, 2017, 04:23:27 PM
hahahaa - I wonder how many of us will be confident in opening a clinic for anger management?

I wonder how behavior changes with what we call the "private space"?

If you observe a waiting line in US vs. in China, you would quickly find Americans leave a lot more space between each other than the Chinese - that is also applicable to the two cultures. That makes me wonder if that applies to Jewish culture and whether that is related to how Center people behave with each other.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 07, 2017, 07:42:41 PM
Thank you, Barbara, I see now what you meant. It seemed to me at first for some reason you were advocating something else. I've never heard of the "Personal Power" thing but if it works, I'm all for it so long as it doesn't hurt anybody else, and I don't see how it could. Unless it were carried to extremes.

I think that was Kominsky's problem. I really do  think there was something wrong with him.  He has a lot of odd symptoms: the chosen one, the only  one who knows how to do things, the lack of concern for Itzak...I mean how could anybody sit and watch that happen, let alone escalate it,  alone shows something not quite right. I am glad the Center folks stood up for themselves  and voted him democratically out. I think that must have taken a lot,  given their situation.

Bubble, I am so sorry to hear of your distress following that unfair termination. I completely understand that. but I was in depression for six months.  I pulled myself together in finally realizing I was not incompetent.  The image on how we see  ourselves and  that we want present to others is very important.

  Yes and there's along with it in that situation  the grief of losing something you did well to underhanded means.  The unfairness of it. You are a nicer person than I am. I tend to get angry. Of course they do say that depression is repressed anger, but either way,  it, like a lot of other things that happen to people, was not right. And I don't see anything wrong with saying so and standing up to the bullies of the world and calling them out, either. THEY won't like it, but hey.

Bellamarie, what you've said there, the "should have, would have, could have" remarks  as to Itzak's behavior,  seems to imply that Itzak, who I thought was the victim, caused his own abuse?  I may not understand what you're saying, that seems to be an issue with me today, for some reason.  Sorry if I have misunderstood. But if  that is the idea, I don't agree with it.

It's interesting when we discuss books how some minor character becomes a litmus test, and that makes it all the better.

Oh that's a good point, hongfan, on the space issue. You are dead right on that one. What do you think that indicates and why?  Americans like space between them and the other person, and it's interesting as one travels to see the people in  which countries do and don't need space. And which ones, to carry it further, seem to allow YOU space.

I mean we've all seen the film of the Japanese and their metro piling in.

As to how the Center people relate to each other, and their need for a sense of worth among their peers,  the author has a paragraph near the end which I found interesting. What do you all think of this, this seems to the point:

"The Center people had two special problems in applying their standards of worth, both associated with their advanced age. In stable societies where the elderly have lived together for their entire life span, one's accomplishments during the productive year can be used as standards of worth and honor. Those accomplishments are ever present in the memory of peers who serve as natural witnesses. Everyone knows and remembers what has gone before. The past record of successes and failures is automatically used in valuing the elderly. When people have been uprooted and no longer live among those who witnessed their life, where no future accomplishments are possible because there is not enough time left them, they become completely dependent on their colleagues to voluntarily agree on their worth."

 I think that's a very wise statement.

" Others are needed to attest to one's claims concerning the past. Lacking peers or family who had witnessed their history, Center people for the most part could only turn to each other for validation, and it was usually given grudgingly. Hannah's comments on this were apt. "You notice around here you can always find someone who wants to kvetch." But halevai you get news that your grandson got a scholarship to medical school, you want someone to kvell with, all of a sudden everyone goes out the window". Sofie agreed sadly but rationalized, "You know what this is, Hannah?  To sing a song of joy to one whose heart is breaking is to pour vinegar on a wound. What else could you expect?"

"To allocate respect publicly to a peer when one feels ignored or disdained takes great character and generosity, perhaps more than can be expected of ordinary mortals. Center people shared each others griefs and struggles more easily then their joy or successes."

We've talked about the author's analyses of the situation. On this I think she makes a lot of sense, and I think it applies to more than the Center people, (for instance small towns or living in the same place for a long time) but what do you think? This, to me, explains a LOT and not only about the Center people but as Bubble says other types of Senior Homes.





Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 07, 2017, 07:53:41 PM
We haven't talked, either, about who,  of the many people telling their stories at the beginning of the chapter, we found the most interesting or moving and why?

My gosh what stories. It's hard to pick one. Imagine being in one room with all those stories and backgrounds. I think, after long thought, I would choose Max, whose story is on page 115,  who gave his story in Yiddish, who walks 5 miles a day at 98. Whose father gave him away at 5.  Who ran away when he was 9. He ran to Vienna going there on the bottom of trains. ..who taught himself to read the papers...what a story, what endurance. Absolutely amazing. We should all tell our own stories to somebody if we haven't. I'm glad the author came along and wanted to do this study, these stories would have been lost. Wouldn't they?

Maybe we should tell a bit about our own stories here as part of the study experience? Or maybe just one interesting bit?  Some of you have lived very interesting lives. I'd like to hear more about them. I would personally be hard pressed to come up with much, about my own,  I have to be honest.

Whose story in the book seemed the most interesting or striking to you and why?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 07, 2017, 09:53:40 PM
Ginny,
Quote
  Bellamarie, what you've said there, the "should have, would have, could have" remarks  as to Itzak's behavior,  seems to imply that Itzak, who I thought was the victim, caused his own abuse?  I may not understand what you're saying, that seems to be an issue with me today, for some reason.  Sorry if I have misunderstood. But if  that is the idea, I don't agree with it.

Yes, Ginny, I don't think you are understanding what I am saying. I do understand your point of view, and don't see it the same as you. I don't see Itzak as a victim, nor causing his own abuse, because I don't see what transpired as abusive. We can agree to disagree, and move on. 

Bubble, that is a very disheartening story of being let go over the phone and so unfairly.  I am so sorry and can see how it would cause you to feel depressed.  I'm glad you came to realize you were competent and deserved to be treated much better than this.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 07, 2017, 11:37:49 PM
'And Itzak refused to continue as treasurer. His eyes had grown steadily worse. Shortly after, he had a stroke.'

'This afternoon Kominsky was not wearing his  lower denture. His once glorious smile was now lopsided and distubing. Flesh on his face hung loosely, but his eyes blazed as brightly as ever.'


'Whose story in the book seemed the most interesting or striking to you and why?'

For me it would be Kominsky himself. A man on a mission. Whose life, when he was a boy, was saved by the miraculous intervention of Elijah the prophet. A 'macher'. 'Someone who arranges, fixes, has connections; a big wheel; an operator'  (Joys of Yiddish) A man who wants to get the community back to its Jewish roots. Perhaps he was an advance scout for the Messiah. "The world is not ready.' would probably be in his report.

And so, he gets his chapter. And the author is proud of her artistry. Like Picasso, she reports it as she finds it. Could she have done it without Shmuel? Another great story. There are so many. Can we find some Chagall in the picture?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 08, 2017, 12:40:21 AM
Hmm I cannot say there is one story that gripped me more than the others - it was a tapestry of the early 20th and late 19th century in areas of Europe where Jews lives as a tribe.

As Sebastian Junger in his book, Tribe says, "Tribe is a chance to prove my worth to my community and my peers, but I lived in a time and a place where nothing dangerous ever really happened... How do you become an adult in a society that doesn't ask for sacrifice? How do you become a man in a world that doesn't require courage?" And their individual stories were full of sacrifice and courage.

He goes on to say, the book is about "what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty and belonging and the eternal human quest for meaning. It is about why__ for many people__ war feels better than peace and hardship can turn out to be a great blessing and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Humans don't mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it, what they mind is not feeling necessary." 

That feeling of being "necessary" is how I see all of these characters - they no longer feel "necessary" to their children and so in order to feel "necessary" they challenge each other as they have developed into a new Tribe - the Tribe of the Venice Beach Center.

The stories of their childhood come from their experience living in small villages or a section of town that is all Jewish therefore, a village within a town. This is an anomaly to life in 20th century USA. Again, quoting from Sebastian Junger's book, "It's revealing, then, to look at modern society through the prism of more than a million years of human cooperation and resource sharing. Subsidence-level hunters aren't necessarily more moral than other people; they just can't get away with selfish behavior because they live in small groups where almost everything is open to scrutiny. Modern society, on the other hand, is a sprawling and anonymous mess where people can get away with incredible levels of dishonesty without getting caught. What tribal people would consider a profound betrayal of the group, modern society simply dismisses as fraud."

My thinking is that is what unknowingly Kominsky brought to the group - a modern approach that chaffed at the trust factor and integrity of group members - he represented the American Modern Society that those in the group looked at out of the corner of their eye, not trusting the moral quality of the new, certainly in face of their childhood memory where selfish behavior was from the outsider not from their fellow Jew.

Junger points out other differences that I think say a lot about the confusion those in the Center must feel - He says, "A modern soldier returning from combat -- or a survivor of Sarajevo -- goes from the kind of close-knit group that humans evolved from, back into a society where most people work outside their home, children are educated by strangers, families are isolated from wider communities, and personal gain almost completely eclipses collective good." 

I think the individual stories are collectively reinforcing their concept of a close-knit community where others, in their caring for each other, did not allow their 'brethren' to get away with anything. That is the bulwark against being swallowed up and made un-necessary in modern USA.

I like how Myerhoff says, "Kominsky left behind a few lasting achievements, a few lasting blows to individuals, but his most significant heritage was giving the old people an opportunity to resist him, in that way, renew their commitment to their beliefs, thier ties to each other, and clarify their understanding of their identity by having once more performed it." 

To me that says, they renewed their commitment to their California based Jewish Tribe.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 08, 2017, 04:04:38 AM
Which character is  most interesting or moving?   I find it impossible to answer because they all are so familiar here.  I have heard a few versions of Max's experiences in early life,  I have seen honest people gloriously managing important tasks in their own way and being totally destroyed when challenged by "authority".  They were diminished and because maybe of their honesty  never defended themselves.  It is a sad fact that this is not an isolated story.

It makes me wonder if those vignettes of people in the Center are maybe a mirror of the Jewish society in Israel as well. I wonder if we are different from Americans, or other nationalities?

"I wonder how behavior changes with what we call the "private space"? "

hongfan, you hit it on the nail! 

The thing that was very hard for me to get used to when I first came to Israel was how people were all the time asking personal questions. Total strangers wanted to know your whereabouts, your family status or what you did in your past.  This could be the greengrocer where you were buying fruit,  the man putting gas in your car, or the person giving you directives on the street on how to get to a certain place.  It seems every body knows (or want to know) everything about others and they relish the time when they can share the information with their friends.  It probably increase their importance in their eyes?  I think we are the most gossipy people on earth!

Now this is changing.  The country has grown immensely since the 60s and with the succeeding waves of immigration, mainly the Ethiopian and the Russian, we are not the "small village" familiar to all.  Now we are a big country, the neighbors are not  any more friendly souls who would pop in at any time for a talk or a request for some sugar.  Seniors feels more isolated if living by themselves.  Life is not safe as it used to be:  it would be unthinkable nowadays to leave your front door unlocked day and night and open to all.

But I digress...  The Center people for me are a microcosm of what Israel was in the 50s and 60s. Today I feel at home with them.




Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 08, 2017, 09:39:35 AM
I absolutely love what you all have said here. This is a Virtual Center. I want to take each in turn because they are wonderful.

But first, a seque: I  believe this book and discussion are taking over my life.  hahahaa  Last night I thought I am going to miss these Center people when they are gone (we've finished the book and the discussion is over) and suddenly realized (1)  they ARE gone and (2) we have no other knowledge of them because they all have fictitious names. That seemed a blow.

For a supposedly cast off old decrepit greenhorn ways bunch these folks are fascinating and very alive, aren't they? They have their own microcosm and it's interesting. Some of this is due to Myerhoff's really beautiful writing, whether or not we agree with her theories,  and I myself don't, with all of them, she's presented it masterfully and they are pretty unforgettable.

But in reading back over your posts:

Barbara and technology,  is there ANYTHING more frustrating?   But yesterday something happened which immediately made me think of the Center folks and Barbara's struggle with technology: Walgreen's Drug Store! YES!

Have you had dealings with the infamous CLOUD? oh yes the CLOUD? If you're on a trip or an outing,  and have taken too many photos with the iphone which are such good quality instead of the camera whose batteries keep running out, it innocently asks if you want to put the pictures on the CLOUD? Sure, why not? Yeah, sure, I need to catch this moment on film: do what you want.

You can't get them back off, that's why not. DIL says she puts hers on a flash-drive and takes that to the photo place: Eureka! Buy  a flash drive.  No dice, they will not come off.  Buy Omar's famous Flash drive guaranteed to get them off. Nothing. NOTHING. Is there ANYTHING that makes you feel as helpless and old  and left behind as  TGR:  Technology Gone Rampant?

 So down to the local drugstore which can print the pictures directly from the phone.  No they can't. Their HP computers where you can do it yourself have not kept pace with Apple, too many new changes, they can't get them OFF the ICLOUD.

Here comes the manager. He says I'll tell you how to do it, you look like a person who can follow directions.

I do? I perk up.  Zero track record so far after trying three days.  Nothing I've followed has worked. The print on the instructions for the new Omar's Lightning Stick (do NOT buy one unless you have a stationary magnifying glass), the print is -2 font and I'm not kidding.  It is NOT readable even with magnification.  To give you an idea, the manual is 2 1/2 inches square. The only way I can read it is to photograph it and blow it up on this website:(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/flash.jpg)

At any rate he says do you have a Walgreen's  App?

No?

Download it and it will tell you how to do it.  Oh more instructions that don't work.

No, he says, it's easy. He walks me thru it on his phone. It IS easy, when he does it.

Will it get my photos off the CLOUD?? The infamous CLOUD?

Yes and you can send them to us from home and we'll have them ready to go, all 606 of them in the morning. And you can edit them, choose this or that...and use the coupon there is always a coupon (yes there was for 30 percent off, no less).

So I went home, sat in the living room, downloaded the APP, renewed my prescriptions, and then sent them 550 photos, in sets, one of which was ready last night and now this morning they are all  ready. It's 9:26.

What this means is this: autonomy. Here I am nowhere near anything including a drugstore? But now I don't have to go in and sit there waiting for them to print my photos,  as I've seen everybody else does, that's a half hour trip one way (gas!)_ I can send them from the comfort of my home in lickety  split time TO the drugstore who will then print them with a 30 percent coupon off, and write me when ready and I can pick them up when I next go in and  I can also pick up my prescriptions, because the phone just rang as I was writing this and they are ready, too... (which they will also mail me free if I want), and what THIS means is I can stay here in my old age (assuming I survive) BECAUSE of technology which was not available to our Center Folks in the 70's. And it's easy. Technology as hongfan said earlier, to the rescue making our lives in old age more doable.

That is a very freeing thing that just happened all because of the kindness of this Walgreen's manager.

BUT here's the deal: if I do remain here on the farm,  I will lack the Center. Now how important IS a "Center" to the lives of the elderly?

  A couple of those "generic" questions remain unanswered.  Let's mop them up, or you can suggest another theme, before we move on.

Here's some we haven't touched yet, I am interested in your take on them?


1. What do you think the Center means to the Folks in the book?  (I think of them now as extended family).   If they did not have this Center, what would they do?

2. What made for successful aging among the elders?

3.  What do you think the psalm "So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom" means to you?  What does it mean to them?

4. The title of the book is actually: Number Our Days: A Triumph of Continuity and Culture Among Jewish Old People in an Urban Ghetto. I just noticed that word Triumph this morning. IS this a triumph so far? We have half of the book left yet. So far, is it a Triumph of Continuity and Culture?

Why or why not?

 5. And here's one expressed in a letter to a website talking about the book (but unfortunately not discussing it or providing questions): The elders emphasize that they do not believe in the teachings of Judaism due to the consequences of religion during the Holocaust. However, they still hold dearly to their traditions. Myerhoff observes and explains that although the Jewish elderly are not religious, they still practice and uphold the Jewish practices in order to keep their culture alive. They cherish education and scripture study in order to keep their culture rich for the generations to come.

Is THAT why they are holding to their traditions?

What do you think?

It's like a Pandora's Box to come in here, wonderful comments, they are next up once the heading is restored.

All this for the weekend. I'll restore the heading and get this up and then enjoy talking  about the wonderful points you've all made.



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 08, 2017, 10:10:10 AM
Hahhaah, Jonathan with Kominsky as the story that made the greatest impression on you, what a HOOT.

It's strange but I found myself last night wondering what happened to him? How he ended up. And again I found myself frustrated that we will never know because the names are changed. I hope Myerhoff gives us some Coda (she could have from the outset, but the book is really masterfully written). I wish I could find out who they really WERE, I'd like to know how he ended up but maybe she will tell us.  I wish she were alive, we could ask.

You make a very good point, too. Could Myerhoff have done it without Shmuel? He's become another narrator hasn't he? I forgot about HIM and he's the one who really has stood out from the beginning. It IS hard to pick.


__________________________________
Barbara, another fabulous  post, I am so glad your eyes allow you to be among us again, we've missed that.

Junger points out other differences that I think say a lot about the confusion those in the Center must feel - He says, "A modern soldier returning from combat -- or a survivor of Sarajevo -- goes from the kind of close-knit group that humans evolved from, back into a society where most people work outside their home, children are educated by strangers, families are isolated from wider communities, and personal gain almost completely eclipses collective good." 

There's a very interesting set of letters this morning in the Wall Street Journal if anybody can see it about this very thing, how America is not what it was because the culture has changed. And it's not a case of sitting down to a table and talking because there is no misunderstanding, each side understands the other, it's about the divide in cultures, the writer was formerly an immigrant who now resides in America.  I thought that was striking. He says the predominant culture of America was once Christian but now is not and it's that that is causing misunderstandings..he doesn't use the word Tribe but he's talking about it. Fascinating. All the letter writers call for a de -escalation of the strident self aggrandizing rhetoric which they see in the Media and among the leaders.  Many worry there won't BE a  unified America when it's over. Fascinating thoughts for the morning.

This was wonderful: I think the individual stories are collectively reinforcing their concept of a close-knit community where others, in their caring for each other, did not allow their 'brethren' to get away with anything. That is the bulwark against being swallowed up and made un-necessary in modern USA.


I love that. We should put that in the heading. Do the rest of you agree or disagree?

And this one: I like how Myerhoff says, "Kominsky left behind a few lasting achievements, a few lasting blows to individuals, but his most significant heritage was giving the old people an opportunity to resist him, in that way, renew their commitment to their beliefs, their ties to each other, and clarify their understanding of their identity by having once more performed it."

How ironic is that? I would argue he didn't "give" that to the Center elders, they took it as their right. I agree his failure empowered them and apparently the Center is still there, as we've seen.

Good stuff!





Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 08, 2017, 10:33:21 AM
And it's Saturday, and about time for our Ann to reappear and tell us how the move went and how things are going with her.  I'm looking forward to it.

__________________

Bubble: The thing that was very hard for me to get used to when I first came to Israel was how people were all the time asking personal questions. Total strangers wanted to know your whereabouts, your family status or what you did in your past.  This could be the greengrocer where you were buying fruit,  the man putting gas in your car, or the person giving you directives on the street on how to get to a certain place.  It seems every body knows (or want to know) everything about others and they relish the time when they can share the information with their friends.  It probably increase their importance in their eyes?  I think we are the most gossipy people on earth!

Yes yes yes, isn't it startling, and all these years I thought it was a characteristic of the North East: it's common there, not here? It's something I haven't seen in a long time. I thought it was to establish from the get go one's credentials so they could place you. I now think perhaps it's as you say, for the benefit of the person asking to increase their own importance by this knowledge.

What do the rest of you think?

I overheard a conversation  at a National Classical Conference 2 years ago between  a VIP in the field and a young PhD who had eagerly approached the VIP  and asked him a civil and happy question. The very first words out of the Eminent Personage's mouth were "where did you take your PhD?"  Not hello, not nice to meet you, "where did you take your PhD?"

My first thought was how rude, my second thought was that's old school, and is not like the norm, the people who now are the leaders are as unlike that as a cow is a butterfly...that approach  is  dying out, it certainly startled the questioner, but he had impeccable credentials and bounced right back and they were able to converse.  But I still wonder why it was necessary. I thought initially  it was a put down where this personage  was trying to establish his own credentials. It's like anything else: the bigger they are,  the nicer, especially in Classics, so that put him (and he may have been totally innocent) way down in my estimation.

BUT I am  finding in my old age I need to work on negativity  and being critical (it's so easy) and in this situation, in retrospect, I need to give the poor guy a break, he's  an éminence Grise, he might have felt intimidated, too, in such company, and like Kominsky, eager to show he still had game and was a VIP. Which he was.  And to be fair, in such situations I also have made ridiculous statements with no such need,  at such meetings,  and usually I end up  saying the most stupid things sometimes . So  I can't throw stones, but that IS what he said. And I would never have said that, can't imagine why anybody would, but then, again, he probably  would cut off a toe than say the stupid things I have said, so there!

But that WAS the norm in conversation, certainly at Tennannah Lake  House in the early 60's,  you were lucky to get past 2 people without giving your entire life story.

And your thoughts there  on what is changing, not only in Israel but in America is right on with the letters to the editor this morning I mentioned above.

Things are changing,  our dollar bills proclaim Novus ordo seclorum, the Center people were keeping them the same. Which is the best way?

____

And this was a good point, Bellamarie: There was no compromising on either side, so now we will see what becomes of the Center that was in dire straits before Kominsky took over.  I have not read ahead, so it will be interesting to see how they are able to keep it going.     


Yes, it's fascinating to me that this non fiction analysis really reads with all the interest of a novel. I'm looking forward to finding that out, too. I do wish I could type Kominsky without spell check underlining it in red. No matter how I spell it, it's red.


_______________


Hongfan, "I wonder how behavior changes with what we call the "private space"?

Now THERE is a question!  I've been thinking about it since you asked. What do YOU think? What do you all think? What does the answer mean?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 08, 2017, 11:04:37 AM
Just in case you missed this I've just added this to the above post: the manual shown here is 2 1/2 inches square:

 The only way I can read it is to photograph it and blow it up on this website:(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/flash.jpg)

:)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 08, 2017, 11:14:30 AM
Haha Oh oh oh - around here your cashé is who is or was your Daddy - it starts with hearing your name when introduced and then, Oh are you related to - or - I know folks up in Caldwell County named ..... do you know them - or - my daughter went to school with a ... any relation? Oh then your daddy must be....

In a round about way it always gets back to who is or was your daddy and then that is the start of a shared conversation that spins off into anything from gardening to politics often as the result of the interest that was known and associated with your Daddy. You could be the Dean of the Law School at UT and it would not matter if your Daddy was a small town sheriff the Daddy has more clout when folks meet and ever after the first thing out of people's mouths is - How is your Daddy do'an...? Or 'How is...whom ever it was that started the connection that made you a part of their 'tribe'.

Of course with the tremendous growth, with folks moving from all areas of the country, mostly California you have to get out of town now to hear this as the typical conversation starter. With so many moving here as part of the tech or medical community - each of those groups have their look and only after exchanging some observation within their field using language that no one but those in the field understand and there is an enthusiastic agreement about the issue raised, then and only then do they shake hands, look each other in the eye and introduce themselves. So again, the 'Tribal' cashé appears to be specific language describing specific issues or event.

What was that book that was all the rage last year about how neighborhoods develop into a certain political leaning since Dems prefer one set of conveniences and culture as the Pubs have their needs and preferences so that neighborhoods become conclaves of political party leanings and therefore, it cannot all be blamed on Gerrymandering. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 08, 2017, 11:48:30 AM
As to what they would do if the Center were not there - hmm - the question then would be did they move to the area because of the Center or did the Center evolve because many elder Jewish folks moved into the area.

I could be wrong but it seems to me that Jews share a common speech pattern and so without the Center I'm thinking they would just have to open their mouth and a deeper conversation would ensue that would be followed by sitting and talking for hours on the benches along the beach that would soon evolve into meeting for coffee or breakfast - there is usually some kind of AARP or Retirement group that meets and I could see them joining and with enough going to whatever the senior activity center it soon would have Jewish personality.

I had not seen that natural flow of introduction with Jewish folks but we had seen this 'happening' when a small group of us toured the museums and great houses in England - we were a small group and one of the ladies was originally from Louisiana - I believe we were at Hatfield but maybe not - where ever we were, there was a lunch room - here we were commenting and discussing the needlework on the bed canopy and some young guy comes up and asks our friend if she is from Calcasieu Parish - astounded she turns and they struck up a conversation with him saying it was awhile and it brought back his memories of home - well they went on and on into their memories - sat together as we took lunch and of course exchanged contact information - ever after he was on her Christmas card list. And so, if the way we speak, the pattern of our words, binds us than, once out of our 'Tribal' land we are identified as member of a land based tribe as soon as we open our mouths. 

Funny is how we not only trust someone in the midst of strangers who we had found some connection but I know I have expectations of behavior and just cannot imagine anyone from Austin ever carrying out some sort of criminal activity - I think that is the shock we all feel when our local news tells us about folks we know or know of that were apprehended for something that we assume happens over there but certainly not in our town. And so I can see another way the folks from the Center were feeling when some of their assumptions about behavior and intent were in their thinking disrespected.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 08, 2017, 11:49:55 AM
Oh Ginny, I am right there with you feeling as if this book has taken over my life..... or at least my mind.  I find myself constantly thinking of quotes from the book and rethinking the posts all of you here are so eloquently sharing.  I feel so blessed to have Bubble and Hongfan with us to help us with seeing their views from another culture, not to mention having Bubble give us her very own personal insights into being a Jew.  This book has fascinated and frustrated me at the same time.  I keep sharing it with my hubby and he is now asking me,  "So how's the book coming along?" It's got him thinking too.

Barb, As always you bring more thought provoking material from yet another book to the discussion.  How perfect timing is this to hear from Sebastian Junger in his book, Tribe"Humans don't mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it, what they mind is not feeling necessary."

Isn't this the angst of it all?  I so believe this truly is the pinnacle of  life.  Every individual regardless of their age wants to feel necessary.  As we age and our children have lives of their own, we do sit back and wonder if we matter to them as much, since they no longer need us in the ways they did before.  I have to crack up because my hubby and I were sitting out on our patio swing yesterday just watching the birds, squirrels and rabbits in my sanctuary I created this Spring.  This is the first day we actually were alone, no plans, no grandkids, and nothing on the agenda that needed to be done, so what do you think he says to me...."Do you feel like the kids just don't want us around as much since they moved?"  I looked at him and said, "Are you kidding me?  This is the first day we have had in months, maybe years to just sit and not have to run to one of the grandkids sports/school events, we just were at their house having a huge 4th of July celebration,  our other son is having a big swim party next week end and our family get together for my birthday will be the following week end.  I think they want us just as much, you just have forgotten how to enjoy down time away from them."  I know the changes are going to be difficult for him, he has been so very active and close to our son who has had him as an assistant coach in every sport our grandkids have played the last ten years.  He will miss that time with him and being active.  I know he will have to find ways to fill those hours, but mostly, I think he wants to still feel needed.  Necessary!

Ginny, forgive me when I tell you how your situation with the photos made me laugh out loud.  I knew where it was all headed before reading each step you had to take to successfully get your pictures.  Technology, we have a love/hate relationship with it.  I have kept myself up to date with all of it because after teaching computers when they first began in the schools back in the 80s I have been fascinated with them.  I just spent three hours at Verizon refusing to allow the salesman to take advantage of me thinking I was too old and ignorant to know what was what.  He was young, knowledgeable and thought he had me hook, line and sinker with his sales pitch.  I let him go on, and on, and on, then when he was finished I responded,  "So can you please show me the lowest price plan with the most updated apps android, since I no longer am emotionally attached to Apple products?" He laughed and said,  "I can see you are a person who likes the nicer products but not willing to pay the price."  I said,  "In the end, my hubby just needs a smart phone that will ring, send a text and keep him connected." I got out of there with a lower plan than anyone could believe, including the fast talker salesman.  He just shook his head, smiled at me and said,  "You are one tough cookie." I smiled back and said,  "You betcha, have a nice day."  I feel like that is pretty much how the Center people felt deciding to reject Kominsky and all his modern, up to date ideas.  Ultimately, they knew there were only certain things they needed, and all the bells and whistles were not necessary for them to live in the Center with each other.  Just the basics to keep them together, connected and feeling necessary.

Jonathan,  I am with you, Kominsky's story touched me in a way I can't explain.  He truly is a person I would have loved to have met and sat down and got to know better.  I would love to know what happened to him.  The fact he was touched as a child by the great Prophet Elijah just gave me chill bumps.  That's a story you can't make up!  He knew his life would and must have meaning, a purpose, and he knew he must do for others.  He had the best of intentions, he just maybe didn't have the wisdom yet to know how to go about it as Shmuel pointed out.  So far, Kominsky and Shmuel have had the greatest impressions on me. 

Bubble,   
Quote
The thing that was very hard for me to get used to when I first came to Israel was how people were all the time asking personal questions
.

I had to giggle when I read this because my hubby was a letter carrier for the U.S. Post Office for forty years, he knew everything and everybody on his route and in our parish.  He has been retired for five years and seems to now know everybody and everything about the people in our neighborhood.  He had a walking route all those years, he always took the time to talk to all his patrons, the same as when he takes our dog for his daily walk, he takes the time to get to know the neighbors.  When I go shopping at the mall he sits and talks to total strangers and comes away with more personal information in just a short amount of time, and it always amazes me.  I've come to the conclusion from watching him, that if we don't ask questions we will never get to know the person.  I don't mind at all when someone asks me questions in general or personal.  I really am an open book, and if any part of my experiences in life can help someone else by sharing it, I am all for sharing.  Believe me, I could write a book with what all I have gone through in my lifetime..... as a matter of fact I have two chapters already written. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 08, 2017, 12:08:23 PM
Ginny it really is unbelievable how small fonts are.  What I am finding more upsetting as I am aging, is the problems with being able to read small text.  I get so upset when I am in the store or at church, and can't read the price on items, or sing the words in my hymnal.  I have bifocal glasses, the lower part for reading and the upper part for far away.  The reading is fine, but I HAVE to remove them when I am not reading because the far away part does not give me as clear vision, as when they are off.  I am so glad everything worked out for you.

Barb, Interesting point about the Jewish people having their own pattern of speech and would probably end up forming yet another group somewhere else.  I just think having this Center at this time is vital to them and I would hate to think of it closing. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 08, 2017, 04:30:02 PM
2. What made for successful aging among the elders?

I think, Ginny, this is among the original questions that has drawn you to this book? I have thought about this on and off since Chapter 1, I can tell you what I think right now but may evolve as we go along with the book.

I see in them something they held so dearly in their hearts, something very meaningful and much bigger than their own lives - for the nation of Israel, for holding up their dignities to the outside world, for keeping an important identity - being a Jew, a good Jew. I think that connected them with a source of energy, a source of vitality. It reminds me something I read before, in China, at the end of the Ming Dynasty and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty (from early 17th century and the last dynasty in China), there were quite a few famous scholars who were actively involved in anti-Qing activities. And you know, 90+% of Chinese belongs to one ethnic group - called Han (which is the same name of the Han Dynasty), and Qing Dynasty was founded by what called "barbarians" from the north, a much smaller ethnic group. Those scholars were trying to get the people to raise up to "expel the barbarians" out of the land. Many of them were from wealthy and noble families, under Qing, they got jailed, got exiled, ran from place to place, lost all the wealth, lost families and always in danger of losing their lives. But many of them lived into their 80s, this was significantly long compared to the average life span at that time, and this made me think about the Center people, and also what Barbara mentioned earlier "Humans don't mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it". These scholars certainly thrived on it!

Now this is surely one case of "being needed", and I think the more significant the cause that one feels about, the bigger life force that one is connected to, that makes one forget about the aching joints, the weaker legs, the blurring visions, and the question of aging itself?

3.  What do you think the psalm "So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom" means to you?  What does it mean to them?

I don't have a clue. I don't know. But if I look at what before that line:

Man is like a breath,
His days are as a fleeting shadow.

In the morning he flourishes and grows up like grass,
In the evening he is cut down and withers.

So teach us to number our days,
That we may get us a heart of wisdom.


It reminded me a question that was asked "if you only have three days to live, what would you do?"

I don't have an answer for this question either, I wish those who have faced those situations would tell us what they have decided to do, that I think will lend me some wisdom. But if you have thought about it and know what you would do, I am curious to know?

4. The title of the book is actually: Number Our Days: A Triumph of Continuity and Culture Among Jewish Old People in an Urban Ghetto. I just noticed that word Triumph this morning. IS this a triumph so far? We have half of the book left yet. So far, is it a Triumph of Continuity and Culture?

I don't know whether to continue a culture in itself is a triumph or not. To me culture is formed with a reason, and when that reason changes, the culture needs to change. I lamented earlier that China has thrown out its traditions but I never think we need to bring all the traditions back, some shall be let gone, but a lot still relevant and even more relevant than before shall be brought back. I remember a few years back some Japanese claimed that Japan is the true preserver of Chinese traditions, that certainly enraged so many Chinese folks. But I did see some merits in that claim, when I was in Kyoto some years ago, in the park, the famous one (I need to search up the name, I forgot now) which it's so lovely that you saw the big red maple trees, the temples, and many beautiful teenage girls in their pretty kimonos, it's just so lovely. And you turn around, you see all the Chinese characters around you, on the temples, on the stones, in the names, I almost forgot I was in Japan.

China has thrown away its traditions in a wholesale way for reasons, and if we bring some of them back some day, it will also be for reasons. It is all about adaptation. To stick to a tradition itself doesn't tell me a lot. But in the case of the Center people and in the context of what Jewish collectively has gone through in the history, I do see the significance for the continuity of tradition, or the Jewish identity, I do see why the author called it a triumph. And I admire that courage and resilience, that "toughness" in adversity. Hats off to the Center people and Jews around the world!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 08, 2017, 05:31:11 PM
Hongfan, "I wonder how behavior changes with what we call the "private space"?

Now THERE is a question!  I've been thinking about it since you asked. What do YOU think? What do you all think? What does the answer mean?


I have a hypothesis: older cultures and/or homogenous cultures have smaller "private space" than newer and/or heterogeneous cultures, I see this in Chinese vs. Americans. I see this in the book. How about other older cultures? Do you know?

I read an article before, saying today people all feel they are entitled to privacy, but privacy was a relatively new concept in human history, it was a by-product of owning private properties. That made me think.

I tend to agree with the author, and I guess in ancient times, privacy was a nonexistence and a very strange concept, it is "un-nature", because, and this is a because you are entitled to a big laugh, I won't mind at all, that I think our ancestors could sense each other's thinking and see through each other. Now we all know that, when we think, our thoughts are coming out as electrical waves. You can use equipment to detect them, and many researchers are working on this - capture the brain waves and use them to direct the artificial limbs to do things. I forgot the term for this, but it has been in research for years, so for instance, a person with an artificial arm, when he looks at the water bootle and thinks "I want to get that bottle", the arm connected with a circuit that captures and decodes it to a command that directs the arm to reach out to the bottle. Some people with Qigong practice can sense other people's thinking - probably their inner environment become much quieter and thus their antennas become much more sensitive. This seems magic to us now but probably was a very common ability in very ancient time. As an analogy, today we all start to use navigation systems, I never have a good sense of direction, so I tend to think I gained all and lost nothing. But my husband has a good sense of directions and now he is also using GPS, so I think his brain muscle related to directions will be used less and less, and eventually will be weakened. Think about 1000 years later people may loose the of sense of directions all together? I think we have been on the decline curve for loosing abilities for a long long time, every time we use a new tool, we offloaded a chunk of our ability, lost a chunk of intelligence, and we have been accelerating on that curve in the recent history.

So, I further think, our ancestors didn't need languages either, their connections between each other were directly biological, which means they fully understood each other, there was no room for misunderstanding.

Why do I think they could see through things. Well, look at Chinese acupuncture,  those meridians or acupuncture points. How did ancient ancient Chinese know where those 300+ acupuncture points are? You cannot open the body and see them. Now people say if you measure the electric-magnetic field around those acupuncture points, they tend to have stronger field. Some of the ancient Chinese literature says those acupuncture points were observed by ancient Chinese by naked eyes, those are the points that can emit lights!

So my hypothesis is that at the beginning human kind were connected with each other directly and in that sense was a unity, a "one". Along the way, we started to loose that ability, and then languages were invented, misunderstanding appeared, confusions, divisions, wars followed, and more tools were invented, more confusions were introduced, and it's continuing this way to this day.

Privacy was one of the human inventions in that process. I tend to think the older cultures have maintained the smaller "private space" along the time line as a component of their traditions? This inevitably have people bounded to each other, sometimes not so willingly, sometimes not so comfortably, and some times led to conflicts, more easily stepping onto each other, hurting each other; however ironically you do feel more grounded, you lost freedom in exchange of stability and security. If you ask any first generations of immigrants, including myself, no matter what you may achieve in the new land, that sense of security you can never gain back again, I guess it is a sweet and sour thing.

By the way, have you seen the movie The Joy Luck Club, if you haven't, I highly recommend it. It is a wonderful movie, about 4 pairs of mothers (born in China) and daughters (born in US) and how they struggled to keep close and understand each other across the chasms between Chinese and American cultures. I guess the Center people may very well resonate with what are depicted in the movie.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 08, 2017, 06:18:09 PM
Like  you Hongfan I had no clue what was the meaning of,  "So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom" - You at least put in context but still it flies above my head - what the value of numbering your days is that it should be taught I cannot even guess and by numbering your days you get to the heart of wisdom - ??!!??

A calendar number's our days but checking the calendar did not especially bring any insight or wisdom any more than watching the hands of a clock or as the old saying about 'watching a pot boil' suggesting 'a watched pot never boils'.

I'm thinking that goes for life - looking and checking for success never gets you there - doing and improving your best is the way to fulfilling work that piles up and success creeps in without you even noticing.

And so I am really not sure what the quote is getting to but if it is watching your days is a way towards wisdom then I see another side. You do not watch you do... even after observing unless you do the observed is stuck in your thoughts with no visible sign it even exists.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 08, 2017, 06:51:37 PM
America is not what it was because the culture has changed. And it's not a case of sitting down to a table and talking because there is no misunderstanding, each side understands the other, it's about the divide in cultures, the writer was formerly an immigrant who now resides in America.  I thought that was striking. He says the predominant culture of America was once Christian but now is not and it's that that is causing misunderstandings..he doesn't use the word Tribe but he's talking about it. Fascinating. All the letter writers call for a de -escalation of the strident self aggrandizing rhetoric which they see in the Media and among the leaders.  Many worry there won't BE a  unified America when it's over. Fascinating thoughts for the morning.

I am actually interested in what if this topic is written by US born American white, if he/she would agree with the view. I think for an immigrant, like myself, and if non Christian, I may not have the proper breadth and depth to provide a fair assessment on the culture changes. At least myself won't have that confidence.

But I do tend to agree with the statement "All the letter writers call for a de -escalation of the strident self aggrandizing rhetoric which they see in the Media and among the leaders." I think many of our politicians are giving out false hopes and illusions to people who may not know what is going on around the globe, and lead them to be less prepared and more hurt when the reality kicks in later. For one, US is working on Industry 4.0 and trying to bring back the manufacturing industry from overseas, it all sounds good, but if people thinks that means manufacturing jobs will reappear, that is an illusion, those jobs are lost forever, the robots will be running the factories, China has speed up replacement of labors with robots, because China has become too expensive now for low skill labors. Some politicians make people think they can prevent future outsource to overseas, but that is not the issue for the future, young people have to be made known what are going to happen. Things have changed, the old days won't be back, it's not only for them, it's for everyone of us.


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 08, 2017, 06:58:29 PM
Barbara,

I love very much the last long post you have written analyzing what is going on among the Center People, when I was reading it yesterday, I was thinking: if I were the editor, I would want to put Barbara's in and take some of the author's analysis out. I had some similar feeling but I couldn't have articulated that well as you have done. Love it!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 08, 2017, 07:09:59 PM
Bellamarie, this morning I was thinking to myself, I felt so honored to be with all of you here - you all have so much more experiences than I have, and have so much more that you can teach me. I am very grateful. I don't know why it jumped into my mind, maybe we had some channel connected?

Ginny, if you don't have much to say about your life, I guess nothing of my life is worth of mentioning. I have a few close mentors/friends in their 70s and they have been very active in their volunteer services, but whenever I mentioned that my  wonderful Latin teacher has volunteered to teach Latin for 12 years, day in and day out, 12 classes for the past year alone, everyone was a WOW. I think it is not difficult to do something for some time, but to do it for 12 years and still so passionate about it, I don't know how many of us can do that. I am pretty sure you are an angel, I just don't know which class you are in?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 09, 2017, 12:27:43 PM
The other day I was listening to the song Oyfn Pripetshik, it's just so beautiful, tears came to my eyes. I heard this song from Schindler's List but never knew what it is. Thanks to our book, I know now.

I copied the lyrics here, isn't it so beautiful?

Oyfn Pripetshik
[At the hearth]
By Mark Warshavsky

In the little hearth flickers a little flame,
Warmth spreads through the house,
And the rabbi teaches little children
The Hebrew Aleph-bet.
 
Listen carefully, remember, little ones,
What you're learning now,
Repeat it once again, again and yet again,
The sign under the Aleph is O.
 
Study, children, with great desire,
Don't let your learning lag;
Whoever learns the lesson very quickly
Will receive a flag.
 
Study, little ones, do not be afraid,
Every beginning is hard,
Happy is the man who studies Torah,
Great is his reward.
 
When, dear children, you will older be
You will understand it all:
The pain that lies within these letters
And the tears that fall.
 
As you endure our years of suffering,
Their burden you will bear,
Be inspired by these little letters,
Their message for all to share.
 
In the little hearth flickers a little flame,
Warmth spreads through the house,
And the rabbi teaches the little children
The Hebrew aleph-bet.

Barbara, I have an idea, if this is the song for Hebrew class, probably the poem on Number Our Days is for Arithmetic class :)

And if I am still clueless by the time we finish the book, I at least gain the wisdom of knowing I don't have the wisdom? 

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 09, 2017, 12:43:02 PM
A jew is one by birth, from a Jewish mother since we follow the matriarchal line.

Bubble - do Jewish carry on mother's family name? do a Jewish couple live with the bride's parents? does the groom need to change his last name to the bride's last name? and does a child's name bear anything from the father side at all?

I am curious how it works.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 09, 2017, 12:48:54 PM
hongfan,  I love the song.  Now I have to ask Bubble, does the Hebrew aleph-bet letters each have a significance rather than spelling words like our English Alphabet? 

Quote
And if I am still clueless by the time we finish the book, I at least gain the wisdom of knowing I don't have the wisdom? 

I simply love this statement.  I too will have gained the knowledge I still do not have the wisdom, and I will continue to search for answers.  I am not Jewish, but I do continue to study the Bible for more knowledge and wisdom. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 09, 2017, 01:02:51 PM
Well now Hongfan and Bubble you have me thinking...... I know it was important for Jesus's bloodline be of the line of David, hence that is the matriarchal line, Mary's genealogy, but  I am confused when you say: 

Quote
A jew is one by birth, from a Jewish mother since we follow the matriarchal line.

I always thought it was through the male lineage. 

http://www.thecatholictreasurechest.com/geneal.htm
Jewish law required that genealogies were to be through the line of the males, and not the females...

Num 1:17-18, "So Moses and Aaron took these men who had been designated, and assembled the whole community on the first day of the second month. Every man of twenty years or more then declared his name and lineage according to clan and ancestral house."

Keeping accurate records of genealogies was very important to the Jews. The Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote that Public Records* recorded genealogies from the oldest to the youngest, and Private Records went from the youngest back to the oldest, and these genealogies were passed down through the generations. This was done in part in order to prevent unqualified persons from gaining positions through their ancestry. See Ezra 2:61-63, and Neh 7:63-65 where some priests were rejected because they could not prove their Levitical ancestry.


When I was at Mass today I was thinking of this book, questions started coming to my mind and one of them were,  If some Jews do not believe in God, then do they believe in the Ten Commandments, or in Moses?  I know Shmuel stated that the Jews in Heaven would be arguing with the Lord about His Laws, so does that mean they don't follow the Ten Commandments?  I am just curious.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 09, 2017, 02:42:47 PM
If the mother is Jewish, then her children will also be. The father could be Jewish or not.  I was told that is is because you can always be sure of who the mother is, not the same about the father.  I suppose that nowadays with DNA testing... but that is the rule from way back.

honfan, no the family name is the one from the father like everywhere else in the world. And yes, often the young couple live with the bride's family until they can afford a place of their own.

bellamarie, the Hebrew alphabet is more that just letters.  another use is that each letter represent a digit.  The latin digit do not exist in Hebrew, so the 1st letter is = to 1, the next =2, etc.  Dates are written in the value of the letters.
Apart from that, there is a special meaning attached to different groups of letters.  This is called Gematria

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gematria (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gematria)  And that gives a hidden meaning to some texts. 

now look at this-  Just the beginning, not the further French commentaries.  It explain the hidden messages of letters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF6hZJvsfc4 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF6hZJvsfc4)

About Jews who do not believe in God.  How can we generalize, since belief is so personal?
In the book somewhere, it is said that it is not the belief in God, but the fact that one is good, try to help others, be considerate etc that is the important point. Yes, it is part of the commandments, but one follow that not because they are the commandments but  because it is part of a line of conduct to be good and respectful of others.   I am not sure that answer your question.

Do YOU believe in Moses? After all he is not God, I think mainly a real man who was a leader.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 09, 2017, 02:50:08 PM
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/NumberourDayscover.jpg)


They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it on subjects in the USA, and let them speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us! 

Questions to Ponder on  Chapter 4

Chapter 4: "We Fight to Keep Warm."


1. Chapter 4, "We Fight to Keep Warm," is full of ideas.  Was there one idea that stood out for you over the others? If so what was it?

2. This is the chapter Jonathan referred to earlier when Myerhoff expresses irritation and impatience with the Center residents and their quarreling. Later she wonders why she was so irritated. What turned her around? What was the message of the apple skin? Do you find yourself irritated with the Center folks at the end of this chapter or more sympathetic?

3. The Evil Eye and Superstition are very well explained in this chapter. Were you surprised? Are YOU superstitious in any way? Or are you more like Basha, "Myself, I don't believe in these things, but it doesn't hurt to be careful." (page 154). Are there any superstitions in 2017 that people now  believe? What about Friday the 13th? Black cats? Walking under ladders. "Bread and Butter?" How many can you think of? But witchcraft? Was that a surprise?

4. Why is Anna so mysteriously silent always? What does that accomplish?

5. "A frontal attack would tail, but what that strategy might be, no one could foresee." What does that mean?  Page 158.

6. Why did Abe invite Dr. Cohen to try 4 sessions of group counseling? What was the result? Did he help the situation or make it worse? Is there anything he could have done to change the situation?

7. What was the funniest remark made out of at least 100 in this chapter? Which one made you laugh the most? Who made it?

8. Why does Myerhoff say the Jews give  so many nicknames: to people, towns, animals, families? 169.  What do nicknames normally show?

9. Myerhoff sees Anger as a positive thing in the lives of these Center people.   Many people would argue that  Anger is self defeating, and even harmful. What do you think? Do you agree with her about the role anger plays in establishing power  to the Center folks?  These things are discussed on 184, 185 and 187.

10. In this chapter Myerhoff talks about the personal Power we've been talking about and she also talks about the "Martha" effect I mentioned earlier in an old vaudeville joke.   On the latter she says, "For people in such straits as they, nothing is impersonal. Their condition swells until it fills the world. Solipsism is a certain mark of those too long abused. A rainy day  is an  unkind attack, a broken zipper a manifestation of the hostility of the universe. In many ways, these  small  challenges an be turned into triumph. Such misfortunes, minute in other people's lives, were enormous in theirs. Their affairs were not miniature to them, through in the larger arenas of the outside world, they would appear so. Our activities swell to fill the frames in which they occur." (189)

What do you think of this analysis? Is it only to those who have suffered oppression or can it be to anybody who is "down" about one thing or another? Do you think her last sentence is correct?

11.  What's the best vignette you took from this entire chapter?


 I have a new appreciation for the photo on the front of the book. Who do you think that IS?





What do YOU think?


 

http://www.oztorah.com/2009/08/36-hidden-saints-ask-the-rabbi/ (http://www.oztorah.com/2009/08/36-hidden-saints-ask-the-rabbi/)http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/gematria/ (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/gematria/)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 09, 2017, 08:16:58 PM
Sorry, have been off on an unexpected family matter, but what wonderful conversations and points here! Way to go!

Oh yes, Barbara, I've encountered this: Haha Oh oh oh - around here your cashé is who is or was your Daddy Absolutely. I know people who wouldn't buy a car unless they knew the father or family of the salesman, and who don't mind probing to get it. I think, as Barbara says later, they feel more trust, however misplaced.  You're absolutely right.

Worse is the one who starts out telling you who their "daddy" was. I've met them, too.  The first time was a shock, I must say, I had no idea who "dad" was, had never heard of him and had no idea how I should respond. Was he an ax murderer? Was he a Senator?  Why does it matter? REALLY not into that, or anything connected with it. I am not sure why, I don't lack family connections.

I agree with this, too: And so I can see another way the folks from the Center were feeling when some of their assumptions about behavior and intent were in their thinking disrespected. And so I can see another way the folks from the Center were feeling when some of their assumptions about behavior and intent were in their thinking disrespected.

:) Bellamarie, it WAS funny because it was so frustrating but it sure ended well. And today my DIL showed me some functions I did not know were on the Iphone, including the ability to lighten the photos THERE instead of the awful PSP 7.  OH I could write a book about my conversations with the tech people, the latest was DISH. Boy howdy.

That's a lovely story about your husband in his walking as mail carrier and meeting people. I really think it's cool how you are sharing the book and discussion with him. I talk about it to everybody, too, in fact last night I started reading Neither Here Nor There (Bill Bryson) for the sheer escapism of it and laughed so hard I could not go to sleep. The man is a HOOT.

This has been a good experience. It was Jonathan who recommended it and as usual he's right on, but you all have turned it into something memorable, and I'm really enjoying it.

more...



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 09, 2017, 08:33:38 PM
Thank you Bubble for the explanation of the Hebrew Alphabet and the link. 

It does answer my question about the Commandments some what.  As far as Moses, yes, I do believe he was appointed by God to be the leader to bring His people to the promised land.  I also believe Moses did go and receive the Commandments from God.  When I asked did non believers believe in Moses, I meant did they see him as appointed by God.  It's not a trick question, truly I am trying to see where there are similarities between different faiths/religions/beliefs. 

Thank you so much for clarifying differences.  Before this book I had never heard of Jews not believing in God, this is new to me.  I appreciate all the help you can provide.  I do understand it is personal, and in the book there are believers and non believers.  I guess for me being a Catholic Christian it is more simpler, because the guidelines to be a Catholic Christian, is to believe the same way, which is in the Blessed Trinity.  At every Mass we profess our faith through the Apostles Creed.  With this book learning a Jew is not of a faith or belief but of a birth is so new.  All I can say is look out Deacon Jim when our Bible study resumes in Sept., because I've got a whole lot of questions for him.  :)

Ginny are we ready to move on to the next chapter?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 09, 2017, 08:51:37 PM
Bellamarie, there's worse on the small print. I pulled it out and showed it to my youngest son who immediately without glasses read it. READ IT!! I said how can you even SEE that? He said well it IS small.

SMALL is not the word.  THAT type of thing keeps reinforcing to me that I am getting...no...not getting, AM  old. And the words of Myerhoff there about how they had reached a point where accomplishment would be denied them in their old age scares me to death. I keep telling myself she wrote in the '70's, and she is dead wrong about elders not being able to learn. They may not learn like a child (the newest research says drink caffeine if you want your brain to react like a child's does, shuts off something or enhances something or whatever, I'm drinking it.)  :) _ But nobody wants a Walter Winchell over-voice telling THEM that the door has closed on any further accomplishment.

Max accomplished a lot  at 98 for me with his story.

__________________________

Hongfan, that was a lovely post about continuing traditions and China and Japan. I don't know whether to continue a culture in itself is a triumph or not. To me culture is formed with a reason, and when that reason changes, the culture needs to change.   That's a good point, too.  What IS a tradition?

I always think of the family that...I can never tell this story correctlyjjh, but they always cut a piece of meat the same way to make the same dish, cut the lower left corner off.  Finally a child asked the great grandmother why they did that. She said it was because when she was young they did not have a big enough pan to roast it in so they had to cut it. So all the following generations had done that, too.  I know I've mistold the story but that's the gist of it, a tradition formed of necessity, continued for sentiment's sake.

Imagine knowing the difference in Japanese and Chinese characters!! I would never have known.

Oh and thank you very much for the kind words on our Latin initiative. It's not all that unusual, actually. It just happens to be a field that you can continue your entire life, and a lot of people do.

I loved your quoting of Oyfn Pripetshik, thank you so much for bringing it here.

This post was a real eye opener for me:

For one, US is working on Industry 4.0 and trying to bring back the manufacturing industry from overseas, it all sounds good, but if people thinks that means manufacturing jobs will reappear, that is an illusion, those jobs are lost forever, the robots will be running the factories, China has speed up replacement of labors with robots, because China has become too expensive now for low skill labors. Some politicians make people think they can prevent future outsource to overseas, but that is not the issue for the future, young people have to be made known what are going to happen. Things have changed, the old days won't be back, it's not only for them, it's for everyone of us.


I did not know that and never would have considered it until you mentioned it! Thank you!

________________

Bubble, if the mother is Jewish, what was  Fiorello LaGuardia? His mother was Jewish and I think her father was a rabbi. Obviously his father was Italian. He was Episcopalian by choice. Does this make him a Gentile or a Jew?

 I am trying to get evidence to refute something somebody said to me when we started reading the book, that a  Gentile can never understand Judaism.

__________________________________

Hongfan, I thought your post on losing ability to machines was spot on. I just read something yesterday that measured the brains of people who only sit ant watch TV and the decline in cognitive waves in the brain or something.  SCARY! Get away from that TV and think. Calculators and iphones to do simple math. Nobody teaching the times tables any more. It's something else.

I read an article before, saying today people all feel they are entitled to privacy, but privacy was a relatively new concept in human history, it was a by-product of owning private properties. That made me think.

Really!  Isn't that interesting?

Oh The Joy Luck Club, I haven't seen the movie but I think I've read the book 5 times. I love it. I've read all her books except the last two.


_____________________________

Speaking of reading books, have any of you read Chaim Potok? I read all his on Hasidim, too. How beautifully and eloquently he writes of growing up in that branch if Judaism (is it?)

I've been wondering when or if they might appear here.  They were mentioned in the last chapter but now in this one Kominsky has brought an Hasid rabbi to announce the  Center would now keep kosher and who left abruptly when consternation broke out.

Where do they fit in to our picture here with the Ashkenazi and the  Sephardi? Are they another branch? How many branches are there? How do they differ? I  know Bubble mentioned them quite early on in the discussion.

____________________________

And finally, have  we talked about all the issues in this chapter (or book) so far and we're ready to move on?

In Edit: I see that Bellamarie has posted while I was laboriously typing these out, and yes, I agree: do  you all  think we could tackle Chapter 4 (it's 40 more pages) by Wednesday? We can still discuss anything you'd like till then?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 09, 2017, 09:07:31 PM
One thing we might think to talk about while we read Chapter 4, which seems to be about a lot more wonderful conversations for us to relish are Shmuel's words on the last page. In fact the entire last page. This idea of "This means that anyone around you, how high or ugly, might be such a one...So from this you are learning to treat your neighbors with respect and an open mind.  Who knows, he might be Elijah or a Lamed-vavnik."

Except for that last part,  I know a priest who once told me he looks for God in everybody he meets.  I doubt he was  looking for a Lamed-vavnik, but I wonder how many religious beliefs this sort of thinking actually covers? Are there any others?

Is there anything in the fist 152 pages of this book you'd like to talk about or that we missed so far?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 09, 2017, 10:22:52 PM
It's overwhelming. So many thoughtful posts. It's gratifying that y'all are finding so many discussion points in the book. And coming to it with so many viewpoints and backgrounds. How interesting to hear about Chinese tradition and history. Thanks, Hongfan, for joining the discussion. To the West, for centuries, China seemed like a slumbering giant. And then it awakened in the 20th century and has become a superpower. What would you say to the suggestion that Karl Marx is the father of modern China?

I liked this from Bellamarie: "All I can say is look out Deacon Jim, when our Bible study resumes in September. I've got a whole lot of questions for him." Hanging out with this Center crowd will do that to you.

And this from Bubble: " I think we are the most gossipy people on earth."  Perhaps that's arguable, but it certainly was a mistake on Kominsky's part to try to keep the gossip out of the minutes at business meetings. From the book:

'For Center folk "politics" was an idiom for seeking visibility and receiving attention...voting, holding office, running meetings, collecting dues, seconding motions, keeping minutes, and the like were the terms in which the elders could establish, and accredit their worth. But in the meetings he conducted, Kominsky regularly shut off these opportunities in favour of getting the Center's business done.'

And again, this from Hongfan: "It reminded me of a question that was asked, if you have only days to live what would you do?'

That made the rounds in the Jewish community years ago. In three days comes another flood. It will wipe out all life. The story had it thus. The atheist said: 'Let's have one last big party.' The Christian Ecclesiastic said: Let's pray and and get right with God. And the Jew said to his coreligionists: We have three days to figure out how to live under water.'

On to Chapter 4. I must look for the Chaim Potok book. Another good on the Hasidic Masters, Ginny, is, Elie Wiesel's Souls on Fire. One of the links led to  'the Hasidic doctrine that anyone can have latent messianic potential.' But I believe every Jew feels a moral obligation  to make the world a better place for everyone.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 10, 2017, 02:04:09 AM
3.  What do you think the psalm "So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom" means to you?  What does it mean to them?

I knew I had read this somewhere else and of course it is Psalms 90:12.  I found this article that gives a really good understanding of what it is intended for us, to realize we only have so many days in our lives, so we must use them wisely.

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.

Psalms 90:12

The New Living Translation of Psalm 90:12 reads, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” This captures the meaning of the original Hebrew, though not its poetic character. If you were to translate this verse more literally, you might come up with: “So teach us to number our days, that we might bring a heart of wisdom.”

What does it mean to number our days? It’s not the ability to count how many days we have lived or to predict how many days we have left. Numbering our days means, as the NLT indicates, realizing the brevity of life. It means knowing that we only have so many days on this earth, and therefore we want to “seize the day,” living each day to the fullest.

When we recognize that we have only so much time on this earth, that truth will help us think rightly about how to spend our time. This, in turn, will encourage us to grow in wisdom. We will want to judge well how to use the time allotted to us, and this requires godly perspective. It’s not just knowing what we can do, but also what we should do. When we number our days, we will strive to fill each one with value, living every moment for God’s purposes and glory.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What helps you to number your days? What helps you to live each day to the fullest? Are there regular activities in your life that you would eliminate from your schedule if you were to number your days wisely?

PRAYER: Gracious Lord, thank you for the gift of life. Thank you for the days you have given me. Thank you for the chance to live with purpose each day, to serve you in every facet of my life.

O Lord, I do need you to teach me to number my days. I can so easily live my life as if it will go on forever. In a sense it will, of course. But I don’t want to waste one moment of my life in this age. I want to experience all that life has to offer and to offer all that I am to you.

So teach me, Lord, to number my days, so that I might grow in wisdom, so that I might live each day in the best possible way. To you be all the glory! Amen.

https://www.theologyofwork.org/the-high-calling/daily-reflection/numbering-our-days

Here is another link that has explanations but ultimately saying the same thing. 
http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/treasury-of-david/psalms-90-12.html

"Improve Time in time, while the Time doth last.
For all Time is no time, when the Time is past."


--From Richard Pigot's "Life of Man, symbolised by the Months of the Year", 1866.

I come away understanding it's telling the people that their days are numbered, to use them wisely.  Don't think you are here forever, and don't squander the time you have here on earth, use it as God has intended you to with wisdom.  Pray for God to show you that wisdom.   

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 10, 2017, 07:33:08 AM
Bubble, if the mother is Jewish, what was  Fiorello LaGuardia? His mother was Jewish and I think her father was a rabbi. Obviously his father was Italian. He was Episcopalian by choice. Does this make him a Gentile or a Jew?

I had to go and look who Fiorello LaGuardia was.  We have a main by pass and highway by this name in Tel Aviv but I never knew.


'Fiorello LaGuardia chose not to wear his Jewish heritage on his sleeve. In fact, he allowed the public to identify him as Italian, not Jewish, even under the most tempting of political circumstances. When issues of Jewish interest came up in New York or national politics, however, the "Little Flower" was an ardent advocate for Jewish rights. As mayor of New York, he was one of Hitler’s most outspoken opponents."
"In 1922, Tammany ran a Jewish candidate against LaGuardia and circulated a flyer calling LaGuardia "a pronounced anti-Semite and Jew-hater." Advised that he should publicly proclaim that his mother was Jewish, LaGuardia rejected the tactic as "self-serving." Instead, he challenged his opponent to debate him in Yiddish – an offer his opponent could not accept. LaGuardia won re-election."

It shows to me that he did not  completely renounced his Jewish roots.
His father was a Catholic. His maternal grandmother Fiorina Luzzatto Coen was a Luzzatto, a member of the prestigious Italian-Jewish family of scholars, kabbalists, and poets and had among her ancestors the famous rabbi Samuel David Luzzatto.
But  Fiorello La Guardia was raised an Episcopalian. So he practiced this religion, with being aware of his heritage apparently.  I don't know what that make him.  For me he is a mensch and that is enough!  I don't like to put labels on people.


Where do they fit in to our picture here with the Ashkenazi and the  Sephardi? Are they another branch?


Hassidim refers to the extreme orthodoxes, they could be Ashkenazi or Sephardi, but mainly Ashkenazi.  The Sephardi seem to me to be less intolerant.  Potok books are all about Ashkenazi, as are the books by Naomi Ragen.

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.


I am having a problem with that one.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 10, 2017, 09:55:48 AM
The definition of the word according to :  http://www.dictionary.com/browse/brevity

brevity

1.  shortness of time or duration; briefness :
the brevity of human life.


2.  the quality of expressing much in few words; terseness:
Ironically, it is long-winded Polonius in Shakespeare'sHamlet who famously says that brevity is the soul of wit.


For me it's quite simple, we don't know how long we have on earth so in the amount of time, little or more we are urged, to use it wisely in the knowledge of the Lord.

I like this commentary I found:  https://www.studylight.org/bible/msg/psalms/90-12.html

"Let us deeply consider our own frailty, and the shortness and uncertainty of life, that we may live for eternity, acquaint ourselves with thee and be at peace; that we may die in thy favor and live and reign with thee eternally."
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 10, 2017, 10:18:50 AM
Jonathan
Quote
it certainly was a mistake on Kominsky's part to try to keep the gossip out of the minutes at business meetings.
'For Center folk "politics" was an idiom for seeking visibility and receiving attention...voting, holding office, running meetings, collecting dues, seconding motions, keeping minutes, and the like were the terms in which the elders could establish, and accredit their worth. But in the meetings he conducted, Kominsky regularly shut off these opportunities in favour of getting the Center's business done.'

You are so right Jonathan!  The Center people have little to no contact with their children and family, so for Kominsky to prevent them from sharing what they do have about their families, was sealing his fate. 

When I read this part of the chapter it immediately reminded me of the movie Doc Hollywood with Michael J. Fox.  I love the scene where the couple comes into his office every time they get a letter from their son from Pakistan.  They are just small town folk who don't know how to read, and don't understand the culture their son is speaking of, so they have Doc Hollywood (Dr. Benjamin Stone) read the letter to them each visit.  If Doc Hollywood would have acted like Kominsky and told this couple that his time is meant for business, and he did not have time to take with personal letters, can you imagine how offended they would have been?  What really touched me in this scene in the movie is that Doc Hollywood is a young plastic surgeon who is on his way to work for an upscale wealthy practice in California, but gets side tracked when he drives into the judge's fence in the small town in South Carolina.  He is stuck their to do community service as a doctor, for the damage he did to the fence.  Over time he begins to adapt to their culture, and realizes he could live in this small town with all these quirky people.  Too bad Kominsky wasn't a bit more adaptable, can you imagine the things he and the Center people could have accomplished had he been willing to interact with the Center people like Doc Hollywood was able to do?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 10, 2017, 11:39:31 AM
Bubble, what a Solomon like answer.  :) Bless your heart (as they say here) we're really putting you on the spot here, having to speak for thousands of years of Judaism, thank you for your patience and kindness.

I love this: Instead, he challenged his opponent to debate him in Yiddish – an offer his opponent could not accept. LaGuardia won re-election."


Is that perfect, or is that perfect? That in itself should be in the book.  I love it.

I don't know what that make him.  For me he is a mensch and that is enough!  I don't like to put labels on people.

The PERFECT answer!!  Why can't I think of things like that?  What would we do without you here? I did not know all that about LaGuardia, no wonder they named an airport after him.

Jonathan, if you haven't read Potok, look him up first, he's extremely impressive. I'd start with The Chosen and see if you can stop reading any of his books.

Thank you Bubble for that definition of Hasidim, it makes sense, so it's a branch, an extremely orthodox branch.


On  the subject of Number our Days, I took it to mean the statement you often hear:  what would you do if  you found out you only had a week to live? What would you do, what would be your priorities? Would you act differently?


Bellamarie: Too bad Kominsky wasn't a bit more adaptable, can you imagine the things he and the Center people could have accomplished had he been willing to interact with the Center people.

 Yes and the somewhat puzzling thing to ME is that he already knew the culture, was a part of it from the beginning.



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 10, 2017, 12:28:23 PM

On  the subject of Number our Days, I took it to mean the statement you often hear:  what would you do if  you found out you only had a week to live? What would you do, what would be your priorities? Would you act differently?


Personally, I don't think I would change my routine. What difference could that make if I did?  I might just say good bye to those I enjoy and tell them to have a feast or a party in my memory! I am quite happy with how I live and have no wish to rush around trying to compete with  time for doing more.  What is unfinished can remain unfinished, that is all.  No regrets.
I am not trying to gain wisdom,  I only go day by day trying to be a good person and not hurting anyone. If I can be of help, I will.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 10, 2017, 05:31:54 PM
It's interesting to imagine what you would do if you knew for some health reason your days were numbered.  I had a best friend who was my age, we shared everything in common, raised our sons together in our Catholic school from Kinderbible through Jr. high, we had another couple who was included with children the same age.  We were so inseparable sharing the same likes, faith, friendship etc.  She found out her cancer had returned with a vengeance and knew her days were numbered.  My friend Janet and I asked Ruthie what would she like most to do knowing we had limited days left.  She replied, "First I want the three of us to take a road trip to visit the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, and then I want you to throw me a big Celebrate Life party."  We did both, we spent the day at the Shrine, then we threw her a huge party at our church hall.  We sang Kareoke, laughed and had the best time ever at her party.  Just weeks later, Janet and I sat at Ruthie's bed on her last day, praying with her, giving her our love, comfort and support as she passed on.  I thought about how brave she was, but basically she reassured me many times she was ready to be with our Lord.  I would like to think I could be as brave and strong as Ruthie if I knew my days were numbered.  I feel I live my life for God, I do my best every day giving Him thanks and praise for all His blessings.  I fall short, but I do think basically I try to be the best Christ like person I can be by following His Commandments, and doing His works.  So I suppose what I might also do, would be to make certain my loved ones were reassured I am going to a place they will join me one day, but until then I would want them to have the happiest life possible, and to know I will forever remain with them in their hearts and in spirit.  God knows my heart, my every fiber of my being, so I would pray He would give me all that I need in my last days to receive Him in His glory. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 10, 2017, 05:44:50 PM
a Jew is not of a faith or belief but of a birth

- I am curious how much this definition is formed by the Jewish community itself and how much is imposed onto them by external forces. For instance, in the holocaust, did they check belief or check birth? And through all the massacres and pogroms, did they spare Jews converted to other believing systems?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 10, 2017, 05:47:14 PM
Bellamarie,

I am not in any religion but I think a life fully dedicated to a meaningful cause which is to improve self and benefit others is a fully blessed life.

Very happy for you!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 10, 2017, 05:49:57 PM
And the Jew said to his coreligionists: We have three days to figure out how to live under water.'

Jonathan, I guess there is something here "so Jewish", what is it, you think?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 10, 2017, 08:11:06 PM
What would you say to the suggestion that Karl Marx is the father of modern China?

Jonathan, I don't know how you define "modern China", the China under Communism or the China under Capitalism (right now) - I guess to westerns China is still a communism country, to Chinese it is barely so any more, or you can say a capitalism country with one party called itself communist party.

And even we talk about China under Communism time, I don't know if Karl Marx himself will like that title, I think both Russia and China took some of the ideologic terms and theories from him (such as class struggles) but then morphed it into something quite different from Marx's theory. Marx's model predicted socialism/communism will only happen when the capitalism is fully developed and the wealth accumulation reaches to the point that it can afford everyone to take based on their need and contribute voluntarily based on their mental/physical capabilities. Both Russia and China skipped capitalism and jumped directly from feudalism to socialism/communism. Is this a confirmation or rejection of Marx's theory?

By the end of 1980's, the Chinese leaders realized that probably Marx was right, China shouldn't have skipped capitalism, so the communist party engineered the "return" to capitalism, isn't that an interesting social experiment? The thinking, I guess, is that let's go back to Marx's theory, let's have the capitalism fully developed, and then we move that to socialism again. The issue was how to systematically privatize state owned properties at that time (in early 90's), no one knew, this was all knew in history, and they wanted to do it relatively quickly but didn't want to repeat what happened in Russia at that time - a complete meltdown in social structure and economy. So the government tried to allocate among stake holders through stock ownership and other various methods, but by and large, the people who were in the rank and file at that time turned a big portion into their own pocket or among their relatives and social networks, that was the beginning of the large scale corruptions deeply penetrated into the party itself and went out of control, no one believes communism any more, it was all about making profit, and get rich overnight. It became so bad, by the time the current president Mr. Xi came into power five years ago, he was afraid the party was rotten to the point that it would collapse by itself, so his administration has focused on striking down corruptions, it is not unusual that all the top leaders in a province were arrested altogether on the same day, many party officials were sent to jails in the past five years. People were happy and have applauded his efforts. But also as a result, many business shut down, for instance, many restaurants closed because party officials no longer dare to go dine and wine with government fund any more, many gift shops closed too. I guess right now everyone is asking what is Mr. Xi's next step now that he has relatively made the party cleaner. China has been on a social experiment and continuing so, I don't know what Marx would think if he is alive today or watching from heaven. He might be smiling now - didn't I tell you so?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 10, 2017, 09:57:42 PM
Hongfan, what a splendid, astute analysis of the modern Chinese political evolution and experiment. A return to Marxism following the Capitalist binge! Of course Marx must be smiling at his lusty, lively offspring, his own thinking having matured since leaving this earth. His ideas served so many as a new gospel.

'We have three days to figure out how to live under water.'

 I guess there is something here "so Jewish", what is it, you think?

I would say it's the vitality, the survival instinct. The first aphorism I committed to memory when I set out to learn Yiddish was: 'Zog nit keyn mol az du geyst dem letsn veg'. Never say it's the end of the road.

Bellamarie, what a truly moving post. Dying is such a mystery. I could tell you of the phone call I took from the Angel of Death from the  bedside of my dying wife. Not a word was said, but I got the message. By the time I got there she was gone. And yet I am certain she grasped the few words I whispered into her ear. For several days she had been absolutely incapable of speech or physical effort. Except for tiny efforts which made it plain that there was an unseen person in the room who was a comfort for her.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 10, 2017, 10:05:17 PM
SMALL is not the word.  THAT type of thing keeps reinforcing to me that I am getting...no...not getting, AM  old. And the words of Myerhoff there about how they had reached a point where accomplishment would be denied them in their old age scares me to death. I keep telling myself she wrote in the '70's, and she is dead wrong about elders not being able to learn. They may not learn like a child (the newest research says drink caffeine if you want your brain to react like a child's does, shuts off something or enhances something or whatever, I'm drinking it.)  :) _ But nobody wants a Walter Winchell over-voice telling THEM that the door has closed on any further accomplishment.

Max accomplished a lot  at 98 for me with his story.


Ginny - I don't know how Myerhoff developed these points, to me, in many places she has made assertions without sufficient data points or clear logic, here is one example. And to be honest, I found myself starting to skip more and more of her analysis now, often times I don't know what she is talking about anyway, I just want to enjoy the stories and think by myself.

I think everyone has its own way to define aging, by physical aspects, or by mental aspects. To me, as long as I am still curious about the world, still wonder about the world, I am as fresh as a child.

I don't know the theory about caffeine, I don't drink coffee, but I do see meditation helps people. I have been practicing meditation for 15 years, it helps my brain to stay more agile and my body more flexible. One of my mentors/friends tried meditation with his wife since last year and he happily reported that it helped calm him down and make him happier and more productive. He showed me, it was a smartphone apps (I forgot and just sent an email to ask), so he can follow the video/audio and do it at home any time he wants.

Related to meditation is Tai Chi, you can call it meditation in motion, I wish I can take a Tai Chi class if I have more time. My friends who learned and practiced Tai Chi all reported very positive improvement to their health.

And for thousands of years, Chinese, particularly elders, also use ginseng for improving overall health, I regularly bought American ginseng for my parents and relatives in China (and as I am writing now, I have packed all the ginseng in my suitcase and ready to jump into air tomorrow morning to Shanghai!) Chinese medicine particular stress ginseng's helpfulness to heart health. There is a well-known ginseng farm in Wisconsin that I usually buy from: https://www.hsuginseng.com/us/c_US100?PageName=Ginseng#. (but if any of you want to know how it works, do let me know, because it can be confusing at the beginning)

Another day, I had a lunch with a gentleman reaching 80, he is still working full time (he is an scientist), and he told me that he has bought five Amazon's Echo and put them in every room he stays, Echo can read audio books from audible. com (a part of Amazon now), he is like me, doesn't have a lot of time to sit down to read and he probably doesn't want to exhaust his eyes either, so wherever he goes, he asks echo to read aloud to him. He also uses Echo to send messages to his grandsons, and ask Echo to read out messages from them, etc. Apparently, that takes off some burden from him. I don't use Echo, but download lectures or audio books to my iPhone and play them whenever I can - when cooking, brushing teeth, dressing, driving, and you would amaze how much time we have spent on these and how fast you can finish a book. I am sure there are apps that can change text to audio, and read out to you. Oh, yes, there is one apps I found very helpful on Google Glass, you can pre-set for language translation, and when you focus the Google Glass on one menu say in Chinese, it will translate to English, or in Italian, translate to English, or Greek, translate to English, when I tried it 1-2 years ago, it was still a bit slow, needs a few seconds, but I am sure those apps are becoming smarter and smarter, Google Glass is stopped by Google now (at least for consumer market), but I am sure those apps are available somewhere in the apps store. I guess could be useful for frequent travelers?

Anyway, I guess I need to stop and get back to my packing for the trip. Somehow your words triggered my thoughts and thought just wanted to drop a few lines :)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 10, 2017, 11:33:06 PM
Oh Jonathan I have no doubt she heard your whispered words.  I know exactly what you speak of about an unseen person in the room your wife was receiving comfort from.  Death is indeed a mystery, but from the books I have read where others have passed on according to medicine, yet with no clear explanation they return and share their experience, I have the utmost faith that God is using others just as he used His only begotten Son, the apostles and saints to reassure us there is a Heaven with Him and our loved ones, to be reunited with them. 

Hongfan,  Echo....well now you have taught me something new, and peaked my curiosity.  Safe travels! 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 11, 2017, 11:09:57 AM
Hongfan, 
Quote
I don't know the theory about caffeine, I don't drink coffee

My theory on caffeine is this..........  I MUST have at least one cup, as soon as I wake up!

I just finished chapter five "We fight to keep warm" and oh my was that a barrel of laughs.  All I can say, as an Italian/American, the Jews aint got nothin on us.  The entire psychotherapy session could have been a page right out of my large Italian family's page book.  There's a reason we cloned the idiom, "fuhgeddaboudit,’  it's because Italians hold the longest grudges in history!!  Sadie and Anna could be my sisters, or aunts.  And it is worthy to note:

pg.  161  (Meyerhoff asks Shmuel)  "Doesn't this involve the men?"  "No, mostly these things are among the women, concerning jealousy__about a man or money or food.  Always somebody is jealous, someone else get too much, someone else gets too little.  Whose fault is it?" 

Don't get me wrong, the men can stir the pot, then sit back and watch the fireworks, but mostly it is the women always feuding about something.  I watch The Housewives of New Jersey and oh boy they are perfect examples of this whole chapter.  One season they actually brought in a psychotherapist to try to talk to the women feuding, just like Dr.  Cohen, her head was spinning.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 11, 2017, 07:40:04 PM
 Yes, Chapter 4 is something else!  I really don't even know how to start a discussion of it tomorrow, but I'll put a few directions in the next post and the heading and then you all can talk about anything you like, including the questions and anything that struck YOU!

Safe trip, Hongfan!

Every chapter I think can't get any better, and they always do.

 Shmuel says the perfect explanation of the joke about
'We have three days to figure out how to live under water.' when he says on page 193, "The Jew has a joyful life regardless of the oppression he walks through, because he is a good swimmer. He always comes back to the surface." hahahaa

And while I was temped in Chapter 3 to skim over Myerhoff's analysis, I have to say I think she makes some stunning points in this one and I personally think she's hit the nail on the head.  I have to commend her arrangement of these chapters. I am enjoying the book no end.

Beautiful posts here, all of them. There's nothing I can say to address any of them, they are all meangful and wonderful, thank you all. (With the possible exception of the Housewives of New Jersey part) hahaha I lived in New Jersey and never saw anything like any of them. I think most of that is for show.

 However, I can't talk at all,  because I watch Million  Dollar Listing, New York City, another Bravo  Reality Show,  and have since it came on, and love it, even without Luis who was  marvelous, but it's not "scripted," or that's the category it won an Emmy in this past awards.

I did watch the Housewives of New York, however, when it was on, so I can't cast stones, can I? hahahaha I only lasted one year,  tho.

So from Bravo "Reality" to the real thing tomorrow we begin Chapter 4, which, I think, in many ways, tackles the most important things in the book so far.

One of them is the way elders are treated. This chapter explains the defensiveness and the contention in a beautiful way.

There are so  many points I can't think where to start, but I'll put some starters in the next post as I have plumbers here at 8:30 in the morning.


Can't wait to hear what you think on THIS one!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 11, 2017, 08:17:11 PM
1. Chapter 4, "We Fight to Keep Warm," is full of ideas.  Was there one idea that stood out for you over the others? If so what was it?

2. This is the chapter Jonathan referred to earlier when Myerhoff expresses irritation and impatience with the Center residents and their quarreling. Later she wonders why she was so irritated. What turned her around? What was the message of the apple skin? Do you find yourself irritated with the Center folks at the end of this chapter or more sympathetic?

3. The Evil Eye and Superstition are very well explained in this chapter. Were you surprised? Are YOU superstitious in any way? Or are you more like Basha, "Myself, I don't believe in these things, but it doesn't hurt to be careful." (page 154). Are there any superstitions in 2017 that people now  believe? What about Friday the 13th? Black cats? Walking under ladders. "Bread and Butter?" How many can you think of? But witchcraft? Was that a surprise?

4. Why is Anna so mysteriously silent always? What does that accomplish?

5. "A frontal attack would tail, but what that strategy might be, no one could foresee." What does that mean?  Page 158.

6. Why did Abe invite Dr. Cohen to try 4 sessions of group counseling? What was the result? Did he help the situation or make it worse? Is there anything he could have done to change the situation?

7. What was the funniest remark made out of at least 100 in this chapter? Which one made you laugh the most? Who made it?

8. Why does Myerhoff say the Jews give  so many nicknames: to people, towns, animals, families? 169.  What do nicknames normally show?

9. Myerhoff sees Anger as a positive thing in the lives of these Center people.   Many people would argue that  Anger is self defeating, and even harmful. What do you think? Do you agree with her about the role anger plays in establishing power  to the Center folks?  These things are discussed on 184, 185 and 187.

10. In this chapter Myerhoff talks about the personal Power we've been talking about and she also talks about the "Martha" effect I mentioned earlier in an old vaudeville joke.   On the latter she says, "For people in such straits as they, nothing is impersonal. Their condition swells until it fills the world. Solipsism is a certain mark of those too long abused. A rainy day  is an  unkind attack, a broken zipper a manifestation of the hostility of the universe. In many ways, these  small  challenges an be turned into triumph. Such misfortunes, minute in other people's lives, were enormous in theirs. Their affairs were not miniature to them, through in the larger arenas of the outside world, they would appear so. Our activities swell to fill the frames in which they occur." (189)

What do you think of this analysis? Is it only to those who have suffered oppression or can it be to anybody who is "down" about one thing or another? Do you think her last sentence is correct?

11.  What's the best vignette you took from this entire chapter?


I'll put these in the heading also. I have a new appreciation for the photo on the front of the book. Who do you think that IS?



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 11, 2017, 10:18:25 PM
Have a safe and pleasant trip, Hongfan. And please come back with more such engaging posts.

Bellamarie, congratulations. How perspicacious of you to see 'a barrel of laughs' in this chapter. 'We fight to keep warm.' What a case these people make for the therepeutic value of anger! And some people are too blind to see it. Who wouldn't be perplexed by the antics of these seniors? One almost feels sorry  for those trying to be helpful. People like Kominsky and Doctor Cohen, and Shmuel. And the trained anthropologist ruefully admits: 'How could I have found this place, these selfish, petulent, aggressive people interesting or charming?...No wonder these people's children stayed away from them.'

Ginny, thanks and congratulations on coming up with so many good questions. What an unusual book. Like you say, it keeps getting better. I've found two Chaim Potok books in the house and am wondering why I haven't read them. The Chosen, and My Name Is Asher Lev.

Who was the poet who said: 'Come, grow old along with me,
the best is yet to come.' Keep your sense of humor and stay away from The Center.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 12, 2017, 03:47:35 AM
The little bit about the power of the word reminded me of... "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." Seems like John is showing their early Jewish roots.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 12, 2017, 03:54:36 AM
All the evil eye, curses, bad luck, supernatural was typical of many before WWII - I wonder why the difference - certainly science had a huge affect - cannot drop an atom bomb and still believe luck controls the universe.

Bellamarie remembers it from her heritage and I sure remember all the bits from both grandmothers - knocking on wood and throwing salt over the shoulder and reading things in the shape of soup leavings or the way the wind blew and when it was safe to eat this or that and when you could remove your undershirt, a day early and you had bad luck for seven years and God help you if you broke a mirror, your life was about over...  :o
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 12, 2017, 04:03:59 AM
Thought about anger - you have to feel pretty safe to unleash anger - you do not usually show anger to strangers if for no other reason than not knowing how safe you would be if someone retaliated and so, that says to me that they each felt safe among the people in the Center regardless, how they judged each other since, they felts safe enough to show their anger.

Years ago, remember learning that anger was just hurt disguised in an acceptable expression. Hurt spells victim-hood with depression around the corner where as, anger harnesses and expresses power. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 12, 2017, 07:54:20 AM
Hello from Shanghai! Now we are spreading over 3 continents and 4 countries!

Just to finish my post on the smartphone apps on meditation, I asked my friend, he said it is called "10% happier". My friend is in his 70's and felt the meditation has helped him.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 12, 2017, 09:58:45 AM
Hongfan in Shanghai wow how exciting!  You mentioned Echo the other day, I was listening to Fox & Friends this morning and they were saying Amazon's highest selling product yesterday was Echo!  I guess I missed the info that all shipping was free yesterday through Amazon.

1. Chapter 4, "We Fight to Keep Warm," is full of ideas.  Was there one idea that stood out for you over the others? If so what was it?

Chapter five "We fight to keep warm" gives a real insight as to how much these folks really need each other, and the Center.  Sadie was upset and ready to leave with all her friends to follow, which would have brought an end to the Center, because they do so much work for the Center.  During the psychotherapy session if they would have named Anna, as the instigator of the feud, it would have been devastating.  It seems it was okay to continuously say "a certain person," but naming the person was unthinkable, even though everyone there knew exactly who they were speaking of. 

pg. 178 "No!  Naming names doesn't do anybody any good.  Now you are behaving as bad as she is.  Worse even.  If you name her, I am going to leave."  Sonya was adamant and Sadie was silent.  "This goes too far, No names, Sadie."  "Enough talk about leaving here!" shouted Moshe.  "This is a time when the Center needs everybody.  We harm each other this way.  We do the work for our enemies.  We have our differences here, but we all want the Center to survive.  These are very bad times for us.  We need all our members or we close down.  And we don't think only of the Center.  We got to think of Israel.  We raise a lot of money for Israel here.  Sadie is right, she worked hard and we all work hard.  We got to put our fights aside.  We got in common that we are Jews and that we support Israel.  That's enough."  "Moshe is right," said Basha.  "We are fighting for our life, and other people's lives, not just our own.  Now Sadie, if you really love Israel as much as you say, you won't hurt it that way."

What really stuck out for me in this chapter was, as much as these folks bicker, disagree, and insult each other, when push comes to shove, they realize the importance of staying together for their sake and Israel's.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 12, 2017, 11:35:58 AM
Ginny,
Quote
I did watch the Housewives of New York, however, when it was on, so I can't cast stones, can I? hahahaha I only lasted one year,  tho.

I am a reality show junkie, I hate to admit the shows are my secret guilty pleasure.  I watch Housewives of New York, New Jersey, OC, and Beverly Hills.  Bravo T.V. Is always on my DVR.  Yep, even the Kardashians..... I kind of enjoy watching all the drama and sit back and laugh at how silly they all act.  This is why I found Chapter 5 so hilarious.  Talk about "evil eye" do you suppose the Center people would find my humor evil?  Anyone who survived growing up in my large Italian family, would have to have a sense of humor, to get them through the feuds and shouting matches.  We don't even have to be upset, and others around think our "loud" voices indicate we are angry.  😂😂😜🤣😀😳🙃
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 12, 2017, 12:31:10 PM
The little bit about the power of the word reminded me of... "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God."

I guess the "Word" is translated from the greek "λογοσ", this greek word has many meanings, including logic, reason, story, etc.

Bubble, I am curious in Hebrew version, is the Hebrew word equivalent meaning "word" dominantly or has other meanings too?

I also read a few weeks back that Jesus Christ and his disciples mostly used and quoted the Greek version of the Torah called "Septuagint" (from Latin word Septuaginta meaning 70, it was said to be a translation by 70 Jewish scholars in Alexandria during 3 - 2 century BC). The reason is, the author said, that by that time not many people could read Hebrew any more. However, other places I read said Hebrew died out around the 1 - 2 century CE. So I am little confused now with the time line when Hebrew was stopped in use.

But Jesus Christ used Greek version of Torah, isn't that interesting? I gave a quiz to my two kids the other day, with Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Latin as the multiple choices, and OF COURSE they thought it an easy question, it has to be either Hebrew or Aramaic, right? hahaha - we often assumed so much, isn't this interesting to know?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 12, 2017, 02:35:42 PM
Interesting because I thought Aramaic or Hebrew as well... sounds like you trip went well Hongfan... do you change planes in Japan or in another location?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 12, 2017, 03:23:21 PM
Recently read a book by Albert Ells - an American psychologist who in 1955 developed rational emotive behavior therapy. He held MA and PhD degrees in clinical psychology from Columbia University and the American Board of Professional Psychology.

This is a quote from the book that reminded me of the folks in the Center - I think they choose not to change for several reasons - not only the difficulty of changing - their age - and the reminder of their upbringing which at this point in their lives is security  - but to change puts them as odd man out since the entire group is not willing to change their views - we learned that in the last chapter when they ousted Kominsky who was injecting a new viewpoint -

"As Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, ancient stoic philosophers, pointed out, we humans mainly feel the way we think. Not completely, but mainly.

We consciously and unconsciously choose to think, to feel, and to act in certain self-helping and self-harming ways. Not totally, not all together! For we have great help, if you want to call it that, from both our heredity and our environment.

We are hardly born with specific thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Nor does our environment directly make us act or feel. But, our genes and our social upbringing give us strong tendencies to do (and enjoy) what we do. Although we usually go along with (or indulge in) these tendencies, we do not exactly have to. We definitely do not.

We do not have unlimited choice or free will. We cannot, no matter how hard we try, flap our hands, and fly. We cannot easily stop our various addictions to such substances as cigarettes, food, and alcohol, or to habits such as procrastination. We have a time of it changing any of our fixed habits. Alas, we do!

But, we can choose to change ourselves remarkably. We are able to alter our strongest thoughts, feelings, and actions, because unlike dogs, monkeys, and roaches, we are human. As human beings, we are born with (and can escalate) a trait that other creatures rarely possess: the ability to think about our thinking. We are not only natural philosophers; we can philosophize about our philosophy, reason about our reasoning, which gives us some degree of self-determination or free will. "

I liked the concept that Ells wrote that we are all natural philosophers and we can reason about our reasoning - found that information to be empowering while it appears the folks at the Center are empowered by using their age old views entailing curses and such.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 12, 2017, 03:26:15 PM
I've changed my mind. The evil eye, curses, bad luck, superstitions, made sick and hospitalized by someone's evil thought.

Things have come to a sorry pass at the Center. I seem to sense some voodoo in the air. Using anger to alleviate pain, when love would serve as well.

Kominsky's Rabbi had it right. Bring back the kosher kitchen. Observe our ancient rites and beliefs. Exit God. Enter The Devil. Why, oh why, weren't the girls allowed to study Torah, like the boys.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 12, 2017, 03:37:22 PM
Jonathan my guess is studying the Torah would not have changed the girls - as long as girls were unequal in status and subject to their husband, father and for some their eldest son, in order to assert themselves they had to use another system. Just as, there was communication between blacks before their emancipation, by using phrases in church hymns to communicate, there are ways that girls not only communicated but exercised power differently than boys or differently then the public written word since, men wrote and their stuff was the acceptable and accepted truth.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 12, 2017, 07:27:00 PM
Ginny7. What was the funniest remark made out of at least 100 in this chapter? Which one made you laugh the most? Who made it?

I can't pick one in particular, but I can tell you this entire conversation had me laughing out loud:

pg.  166  "When we call people names like this__shmegegge, meshuggeneh__ this doesn't get us anywhere.  Now there is something I'd like to explain to you, something that takes many years for us to learn, that is, if I call you a name and your're hurt, well, you don't really have to be.  You can say, "Ok, that's the way he feels.  He's angry.  He wants to call me a name, but I don't have to respond to it."  This is a very difficult concept to learn.  It's one of the things we all have to try to grasp."  Dr. Cohen delivered his comments with great earnestness.  "You mean to say this is also difficult for you?"  asked Hannah  "Why, yes, certainly," he answered with a reassuring smile.  "You didn't learn this with all  your education, but you expect we should?"  Hannah rebutted.  "Well, that why I say it's very hard.  I'm only human, too.  Just like you, I have trouble when I am hurt and I know it is something I shouldn't let bother me.  Then I have to try to examine myself.  Why does it get to me that way?  When I know this, then it's up to me how I respond.  Does anyone here understand what I am trying to say?"  he asked.  "how should we know if we understand?  Isn't it your job to tell us?"  Sonya was obviously uneasy with his familiar approach.  "This is no way to talk to the doctor.  A bunch of am haaretz all of you.  Here is a learned man, a specialist.  He comes to instruct us and you insult him."  Jake jumped to the doctor's defense.    "Who asked him for instructions?  If I need a doctor.  I go to my son, the psychiatrist,"  replied Faegl.

pg.  175  "So why are we wasting our time?  No doctor can help us.  The doctor tells us we carry on like this because we are old.  Is this something he could cure?"  asked Olga.  "I didn't come here to be cure.  Who is sick?  If I am sick I go to my son, the psychiatrist,"  said Faegl."

It's like Shmuel said,  pg.  158 "When they finished with this doctor he wouldn't know what happened to him.  Maybe he will learn something.  Anyhow, you could be sure he wouldn't do them any harm, and this you couldn't say for all doctors."  Shmuel  permitted himself a rare laugh, his thin shoulders bouncing up to the bottom of his enormous ears.


All I can say is the word my Italian Grandmother used often when she was fed up,  "Madone!"
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 13, 2017, 04:29:30 PM
Barbara: 'It appears the folks at the Center are empowered by using their age old views entailing curses and such.' ...'my guess is studying the Torah would not have changed the girls.'

You make a good point, Barb. And women's Lib is changing the world. But all along, a Yiddishe Mama has always exercised tremendous influece - a formidable kind of power. Would a little Torah have diminished the power of Jake's neighbor?

'A woman there was on our street who could curse like Heifetz plays the violin. The things she could fix up for her enemies! May  your teeth get mad and eat your head off. May you inherit a hotel with one hundred rooms and be found dead in every one. May you have ten sons and all your DIL's hate you. May all your teeth fall out but one, and that one has a cavity. May your chickens lay eggs in your neighbor's house. May gypsies camp on your stomach and their bears do the Kazotskhi in your liver.' p156

On a different note:'It is said that when pious Jews left the old country, they would address God thusly: "And now, good-bye, O Lord; I am going to America.' The New Joys of Yiddish, p109

I don't know if it was the mop, or the Klezmer music blaring in the background, but I was spared an hour of listening to how my life was foreshadowed in the Bible, by a well-meaning neighbor this morning. I was working on the kitchen floor, listening to some freylekhe Yiddishe tapes, when the doorbell rang. You can't imagine the magic of hearing 'tralalala' sung in Yiddish. The neighbor must have thought: with music like that, who needs a new direction. And wished me a good day.

Surely there are far fewer curses in the air, since girls have been given the advantage of an education.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 13, 2017, 08:00:26 PM
 Well this is just wonderful, you've all made SUCH good points. Between the books 1001 points and then your own ideas, it's a rich buffet, it really is. I love to go off and think about your posts and the book points. I am so glad we're reading and discussing this. I feel as if I've had a course in gerontology which apparently I could have used way back when, so much explained here IF we agree with her reasoning.


Jonathan, what a quote. Why do you think they said good bye O Lord I'm going to America?   I have a friend who told me when she came by ship to NYC for the first time (she was a young girl, I think she was 10 and alone) she wanted to turn around and go back. She had understood the streets were paved with gold and the wharves, the general area where the ships landed, the NYC ports back then (she's elderly)  (I guess from Ellis Island but I am not sure) was so far from "streets of gold" she wanted to go back. But she's still here, and loving it.

Curses. The Romans did curse tablets all the time. The sacred fountains and rivers are full of them. They are very creative, too.  Here's a wonderful site on them, I've put a  link to the main page, but you can go deeper and they will actually   show the curse tablet itself and then the translation:  http://curses.csad.ox.ac.uk/

 " Cenacus complains to the god Mercury about Vitalinus and Natalinus his son concerning the draught animal which has been stolen from him, and asks the god Mercury that they may have neither health before/unless they return at once to me the draught animal which they have stolen, and to the god the devotion which he has demanded from them himself. "

On this site there's an explanation of this, called Cursing for Beginners. I think they are most creative to read. May the person who stole my chicken break out in wens, etc.    Anybody could do one, it did not require a witch.

          Bellamarie, I totally agree with your selection of humor. i laughed out loud, too at that passage, loved the " If I am sick I go to my son, the psychiatrist,"  said Faegl."  There you are, the entire shtick in a nutshell. My son the psychiatrist. My son the doctor. My son the lawyer.

But I laughed out loud at this one, too: after Sonya tells how her mother put a spot of ashes on her face "So you shouldn't get no evil eye..." Moshe says, "maybe this is a reason I should be grateful for all the dark spots I get on my face from old age." hahhahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa  What a hoot. LOVE it.

I knew they were good for something!

And golly the Evil Eye is certainly not confined to old Jewish custom, it's alive and well in Sicily and parts of Italy.  And I wonder where else in 2017.

 What an interesting article on  Ells's philosophy, Barbara. I'm trying to recall where I have heard of him before and can't.  This is interesting: "We are hardly born with specific thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Nor does our environment directly make us act or feel. But, our genes and our social upbringing give us strong tendencies to do (and enjoy) what we do. Although we usually go along with (or indulge in) these tendencies, we do not exactly have to. We definitely do not. "

I think anger like a lot of other things, is a learned response. So many things, how to act, how to treat people, how to react, are learned as a child.

But ANGER as Jonathan says to solve problems, surely is destructive, isn't it?  It elevates the BP, causes rapid flushes of adrenaline, and some people can't let it go and live with it as if it's another person, addressing everything TO it. Type A people are said to be angry.

But then I just read that cursing is actually good for you. Did you all see that?  Maybe anger if expressed gets out the repressed what not. I can't believe that is true. 


But the Center people clearly find it empowering, as  Barbara said, " anger harnesses and expresses power. "  And this is another great point, Barbara: Thought about anger - you have to feel pretty safe to unleash anger - you do not usually show anger to strangers if for no other reason than not knowing how safe you would be if someone retaliated and so, that says to me that they each felt safe among the people in the Center regardless, how they judged each other since, they felts safe enough to show their anger .

But on the other hand, the person who boils over and carries on shows a lack of self control, don't  you think? He who doesn't lose his cool...what's the expression about the one who doesn't fall victim to his anger, he's in control? I can't remember it.



 And there is hongfan!!  All the way from Shanghai, we are truly international now! What an interesting fact about the translation of the Torah used by Christ, I did not  know that.

A wonderful book on the history of the Bible is by  Christopher de Hamel (the famous curator) called  The Book: A History of the Bible. It's absolutely spectacular. What Jerome did takes one's breath away.

That's a great point about naming names, Bellamarie! That stood out for me, too. Oh you don't watch the KarTrashians, do you really?


Jonathan,  The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev were the BEST books when i read them as a youth, like The Fires of Spring (Michener: autobiographical) and Revolutionary  Road, and A  Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Marjorie Morningstar and Arrowsmith but I wonder if they have stood the test of time. Since you've got them, if you get a chance to read them, let  us know?

 I find myself, now old, wanting to reread Babbitt again.  Lewis is dated, his speech is dated but I read it a few  years ago, (I had always hated it) and found to my shock that it was REALLY good and there were, I think two sequels. Small town America. I probably need to read Our Town again, too, hated it with a passion. I wonder why  now.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 13, 2017, 08:07:10 PM
My book in this chapter is so underlined I think perhaps nothing is left NOT underlined, starred, decorated with exclamation points, etc.

This is what stood out the most to me:  "For people in such straits as they, nothing is impersonal. Their condition swells until it fills the world. Solipsism is a certain mark of those too long abused. A rainy day  is an  unkind attack, a broken zipper a manifestation of the hostility of the universe. In many ways, these  small  challenges an be turned into triumph. Such misfortunes, minute in other people's lives, were enormous in theirs. Their affairs were not miniature to them, through in the larger arenas of the outside world, they would appear so. Our activities swell to fill the frames in which they occur." (189)

This explains SO much.  Do you remember the old SenhiorNet? Holy smoke when they wanted to go to this type of bulletin board, remember that? People absolutely got apoplectic at the very thought, and every word was seen as a tremendous insult.... I have never seen anything like it before or since. THAT was a microcosm of Center people online. But now I see why, since I've read this book.

And I think this is the key: "Our activities swell to fill the frames in which they occur."

What does that mean, exactly, to  you? What is she saying? Is she saying that the smaller our lives are, the more circumscribed by age or ability or intellect, the less we get out, the less we have, the less we can do,  that we zealously guard what we CAN do and do have?

What is she saying? I'd really like to know what you think, and is she right? If that is so, what would be the cure for this? Is THIS what happens naturally?



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 13, 2017, 08:50:53 PM
"There's nobody in this room who didn't lose family in the Holocaust. Why are we left? So we shouldn't forget our Jewish way of life. Otherwise we finish off Hitlers work for him.  Sometimes we forget this asks of us sacrifices, all kinds, money and other things. This doesn't have anything to do with one person. It's for our parents.  It's for our children. it's for history. So for that reason I think everyone in this room who loves Israel should buy a ticket for the luncheon, even if they don't go."


Basha's words, and all this fund raising work they are doing for Israel for some reason reminded me of Bernie Madoff. Remember how Shmuel said you couldn't make money over somebody else's poverty?  When I read this I thought of Hadassah. Bernie Madoff was Jewish and " Hadassah connects Jewish women and empowers them to effect change through advocacy, advancing health and well-being, and support of Israel. Our members, from every congressional district in the nation, are activists, fundraisers and visionaries. They don’t just talk. Hadassah women DO.

HADASSAH, THE WOMEN'S ZIONIST ORGANIZATION OF AMERICA, INC"

 They invested 40 million dollars with him and  thought it had grown to 90 million.  It was part of a huge  Ponzi scheme to the tune of  "$64.8 billion, based on the amounts in the accounts of Madoff's 4,800 clients as of November 30, 2008. "

All that work by all those people. It's hard to believe how many were left truly impoverished of their life savings.  It's really hard to even fathom the destruction that ensued. And he seems remarkably unrepentant, unless it's a front. 

Here's where Myerhoff talks about personal Power:

(pages 181 and 182)


"The Center people approached the therapy session as another opportunity to demonstrate their moral qualities. They were not prepared to expose themselves beyond a certain point. The vulnerability and defenselessness implicit in too great a revelation were likely to give someone else privileged information about themselves, thus putting them in another person's power. People might use this information to  elevate their own standing, appearing to be knowledgeable about member's affairs, and receiving attention at the same time. For the old people, the therapy session was an occasion that allowed them to proclaim a self selected, highly controlled image,  for presentation to the outsider,  peers, and themselves."

I think this is  VERY perspicacious of her. Not long ago an article appeared in a national publication, I wish I could remember which one, called Why We Lie and showing a photo of an online site. I think it was intended to talk about "Alternative Facts," but as part of the focus of the article was the image  and persona we construct online about ourselves, which may,  in fact, be a long way from the truth.  But why? Why would somebody do that? Is it the anonymity of the internet?  Dating matchmaking internet services are full of this type of thing, the description and then the reality.

What about politicians? Are they who we think they are? Do we actually know who ANY of them really are?

And you'd be surprised how often it happens online. We've been in this since 1996, you'd be shocked at who was not who they said they were.  WHY would somebody do that? Make themselves up, so to speak?  To look good? Is it for the reasons Myerhoff shows above? Not to give others power? Or is it to give themselves power? Is it a chance at redemption, to BE the person one always hoped to be? To finally get some respect?

Why does a person put on a "face? in any situation? Are you sure all the people you are talking to in any online situation are who they say they are? Do we ever really know anybody, online or off?

 Is it because  it's unlikely anybody will ever find out the truth?  I think it's fascinating. I think it's fascinating in the case of the Center people who have to live with each other day after day and think they know everything there is to know about each other,  and it's fascinating on the internet,  too, where a lot of people are nothing like they say they are, in real life.

More...
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 13, 2017, 08:55:39 PM
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/NumberourDayscover.jpg)


They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it on subjects in the USA, and let them speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us! 

Questions to Ponder on  Chapter 4

Chapter 4: "We Fight to Keep Warm."


1. Chapter 4, "We Fight to Keep Warm," is full of ideas.  Was there one idea that stood out for you over the others? If so what was it?

2. This is the chapter Jonathan referred to earlier when Myerhoff expresses irritation and impatience with the Center residents and their quarreling. Later she wonders why she was so irritated. What turned her around? What was the message of the apple skin? Do you find yourself irritated with the Center folks at the end of this chapter or more sympathetic?

3. The Evil Eye and Superstition are very well explained in this chapter. Were you surprised? Are YOU superstitious in any way? Or are you more like Basha, "Myself, I don't believe in these things, but it doesn't hurt to be careful." (page 154). Are there any superstitions in 2017 that people now  believe? What about Friday the 13th? Black cats? Walking under ladders. "Bread and Butter?" How many can you think of? But witchcraft? Was that a surprise?

4. Why is Anna so mysteriously silent always? What does that accomplish?

5. "A frontal attack would tail, but what that strategy might be, no one could foresee." What does that mean?  Page 158.

6. Why did Abe invite Dr. Cohen to try 4 sessions of group counseling? What was the result? Did he help the situation or make it worse? Is there anything he could have done to change the situation?

7. What was the funniest remark made out of at least 100 in this chapter? Which one made you laugh the most? Who made it?

8. Why does Myerhoff say the Jews give  so many nicknames: to people, towns, animals, families? 169.  What do nicknames normally show?

9. Myerhoff sees Anger as a positive thing in the lives of these Center people.   Many people would argue that  Anger is self defeating, and even harmful. What do you think? Do you agree with her about the role anger plays in establishing power  to the Center folks?  These things are discussed on 184, 185 and 187.

10. In this chapter Myerhoff talks about the personal Power we've been talking about and she also talks about the "Martha" effect I mentioned earlier in an old vaudeville joke.   On the latter she says, "For people in such straits as they, nothing is impersonal. Their condition swells until it fills the world. Solipsism is a certain mark of those too long abused. A rainy day  is an  unkind attack, a broken zipper a manifestation of the hostility of the universe. In many ways, these  small  challenges an be turned into triumph. Such misfortunes, minute in other people's lives, were enormous in theirs. Their affairs were not miniature to them, through in the larger arenas of the outside world, they would appear so. Our activities swell to fill the frames in which they occur." (189)

What do you think of this analysis? Is it only to those who have suffered oppression or can it be to anybody who is "down" about one thing or another? Do you think her last sentence is correct?

11.  What's the best vignette you took from this entire chapter?


 I have a new appreciation for the photo on the front of the book. Who do you think that IS?





What do YOU think?


 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 13, 2017, 08:56:51 PM
 This is a big one!


(page 184)..."Yet Center folks experienced their connections with each other most convincingly and easily by the expression of anger and conflict.  Anger is a powerful indication of engagement between people ".... (this is what Barbara said above), the very opposite of indifference." It may be regarded as the most dramatic proof of responsiveness and caring. It is also a mode of relationship by people to allow them to deny that they are helpless victims of circumstances.  By demonstrating opposition, per se, one is asserting that he or she has some degree of assertiveness, autonomy, and  power over oneself and possibly others.  It is a basic form of remaining attached."

I've got so many exclamation marks on this page the book looks like hieroglyphics.

This explains everything, the kvetching, the quarreling, the opposition, but do YOU buy it?

What do YOU think about this assessment?!!?? Do you agree? Or disagree?


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 13, 2017, 09:26:48 PM
 Bubble, has your book come yet?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 14, 2017, 06:41:38 AM
Yes my book finally reached me this week.  I am in the middle of reading.
Sorry, I'm not very active this week: family emergency to deal with. Hopefully after Shabbat  I'll have some answers.  Bear with me.

I will just add that superstition is very present here.  BTW, what about "keep your fingers crossed"?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 14, 2017, 08:44:54 AM
Oh good, I was worried about  you. You've finally got your book! Take your time, sorry for the emergency.

I got up thinking if arguing is power and the way to assess power, why is Anna silent? Is it BECAUSE she is silent she is accused of ...is it being a witch? She can't win, can she?  Or perhaps she doesn't feel safe. Isn't she interesting? But they all say she's mean, really mean.   And we've all known, unfortunately, mean people. Do they tend to be chatty? Or is that pushing it a tad far?

I also got up thinking on this again:  Their affairs were not miniature to them, through in the larger arenas of the outside world, they would appear so. Our activities swell to fill the frames in which they occur."  I'm really hung up on it. Does this mean that we  need, all of us, in every way to expand our frames?  (Hopefully she does not mean physical frames).   Do we need to add to our must do list, Increase the Frame?

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 14, 2017, 10:16:46 AM
Ginny, 
Quote
My book in this chapter is so underlined I think perhaps nothing is left NOT underlined, starred, decorated with exclamation points, etc.

Mine looks the same way.  It's surely not a book I could lend to someone.  But that's okay, because it was used when I bought it.

They were not prepared to expose themselves beyond a certain point. The vulnerability and defenselessness implicit in too great a revelation were likely to give someone else privileged information about themselves, thus putting them in another person's power. People might use this information to  elevate their own standing, appearing to be knowledgeable about member's affairs, and receiving attention at the same time.

When I read this I immediately could associate with what they are feeling.  I have always been an open book with my family and friends, so much so that things I have confided to certain people, they have used that information at a later time to either hurt me with it, or use it to misconstrue, and put it in a context to suit their agenda.  It has taught me to be more cautious of what I am willing to confide in others, because people can use your information for their self purposes.  It amazes me how you can give someone a small piece of personal information, and that person can pass it on, making it appear as if they are closer to you than they really are,  "elevate their own standing." 

It's interesting the points you touch on about people not being themselves on the internet.  I use Facebook every day, I have reconnected with my high school alumni of 1970.  We worked and communicated through FB to put together our 45th class reunion, we have kept in touch and formed friendships we didn't even have while in high school, we are able to reach out to each other in deaths, births, birthdays, vacations etc.  I don't expect to ever know them completely. I don't think anyone really can ever know another person 100%.  There are parts of every person that they hold private, for what ever reason are not willing to share with others.  But, then there are those type of people who use the internet to prey on others such as pedophiles, human trafficking, cat fishing, and matchmaking to name a few.  I have watched more Dr. Phil episodes of people getting scammed on the internet than I care to count.  The elderly and young seem the most vulnerable.  I think of so many cases where the male or female has lost a spouse, they go on the internet and find a "friend" who becomes a lifeline after so much grief.  It amazes me how disgusting people can be to prey on others, but it happens every day.  My older sister when she lost her husband turned to the internet and was carelessly meeting so many men and going to meet with them by herself to places she had never gone to before.  I was so afraid for her safety I threatened to contact her two sons and let them know what she was doing if she didn't stop.  She was so much in grief and lonely that she refused to see how unsafe it was.  I lived in constant fear for her. I did a search on one guy she planned on letting travel from his state to hers and spend his time in her home.  He was NOT who he said he was!  When she confronted him on some information I was able to find, he suddenly was diagnosed with an illness he did not want to strap her with.  He was one of many.  The Center people at least have a bit of safety, in the fact they go there each day, face to face, knowing each other.  When an outsider comes into their Center they are cautious and careful.  They have each other to immediately question the outsider's motives and intentions including Kominsky and Dr. Cohen.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 14, 2017, 11:00:58 AM
My thinking is to expand our frame is a challenge because at a certain point it is starting all over unless you are in the habit of making friends 15 and 20 years younger than yourself - as we age we loose our friends to death - nursing homes most often located in another city and to those who move close to their children - so unless you have younger acquaintances there is no one left. It is difficult because those who attend senior citizen centers most often have a lessor frame or network than your own experience - to me enlargening your frame is having more contacts - as we age it becomes more difficult to make those new contacts because not only are there less venues but our body does not allow us to accomplish as much and so we have to pick and choose -

I can see the value in volunteering if only to hold babies born addicted or to read to children at the library or go to the schools and have the children practice read to you - none of these activities require hand dexterity since many do get arthritis  - but then none of these activities offer a social exchange adult to adult and that is the challenge - so many adult groups meet in the evening and our eyes often do not let us drive at night - this is when being an active member of a church really helps - but that is it - to have a bigger frame means meeting more people and having more interests that involve different kinds of groups.

How many books have recently hit the shelves about usually a guy who is aged, lives alone with the result he is the neighborhood curmudgeon and some young person befriends him and his life changes - we even have Christmas ads of a neighbor stringing lights up for a lonely old guy and he smiles - at least this group has a wider frame than many but it is work to start all over and meet folks without the benefit of community activities to become involved in saving the school or the trees or the lake or whatever or as young parents it was easy to meet folks because of our involvement with our Children's school and sports activities.

I thought as a younger person working as we age was for those who never developed a hobby - now I can see it is a link to the outside world and keeps you more involved as well as forces you to clean up and dress rather than living in jeans and a shirt and best of all you feel necessary - that is the most important take away I have learned so far.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 14, 2017, 11:11:33 AM
Anger......  Now this is an emotion I feel is such a waste of time.  There are so many scripture verses to help teach and guide us about anger and this is one of my favorites:

Ecclesiastes 7:9 - Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.  (KJV)

When I was younger I was always ready to do battle. I felt I had a passion to stand up for what I thought was right and hell hath no fury as an Italian girl who thinks she is right.  As I have aged, and possibly learned from my past mistakes, I am slow to anger.  When I am angry I do not allow myself to react immediately.  I stop myself, I tell myself to give it a few minutes, hours, overnight sleep on it, and pray for strength to understand why I am so angry, and what to do with it.  I have saved many family upsets among my grown children by being slow to anger.  One son may call me or come talk to me about how the other has hurt them or their wife.  I listen and try to see both sides, I then remind them we are family, and if you confront them while you are angry, you could split the relationship and have a very long time for it to mend.  While I think it's always important to discuss things that bother you, I also feel like sometimes when you give it more thought and time, it does not seem as huge as it was when you were angry.  From being raised in a large Italian family where everyone just screamed, yelled and confronted you on every little thing that bothered them, it was difficult for me to marry into a family that was slow to anger, and not express their feelings openly and loudly like mine.  Over the years I came to realize, not only do you look foolish when you are screaming and yelling and being angry, but you lose people's respect.  These people in the Center I think use anger as a form of communication like my Italian family, they know nothing different.  When Dr. Cohen comes in with is calm, slow, psychological techniques, they immediately start yelling at him.  The Center people will not change like I was able to because they are older, and not willing to change.  This is their way.... this is their means of communication, as the saying goes, "You can't teach an old dog, new tricks."  Not sure if I believe that to be true as far as dogs are concerned, but for argument's sake, it does seem to hold true with people.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 14, 2017, 11:26:02 AM
Agree Bellamarie that they are not willing to change however I am not so sure it is because of age -you have to be getting something out of what you are doing or you stop - if the anger is not producing results then you stop - just like you stop hitting your fingers with a hammer - the result of any projected feeling can be how it affects others but it can also be what it does for the one being angry - it pumps the adrenaline and makes you feel powerful like a bull moose who bellows and blows up his body to scare rather than engaging in a butting battle. If the other is not scared then the battle ensues - however often on a frosty morning with no predator in sight the moose bellows and blows up his body to say I am alive and I am king of my surroundings. I think some folks do that by showing anger and so their anger is as much self serving as they notice it affects others and lets others know they will not give an inch or at least not give easily. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 14, 2017, 11:34:46 AM
Barb,  We were posting at the same time.  Oh my, your post on expanding your frame is so point on, it seriously brought tears to my eyes.  I love that commercial of the elderly man looking out his window watching the young kids string Christmas lights.  It just gets right to the heart of things.  It is so vital elderly people find ways of keeping in touch with others.  My hubby retired five years ago, it was two years for me this past April.  My biggest fear of retirement was being lonely, and having nothing to do.  Oh boy was I so wrong about that!  With having grandkids in sports and school activities, we can barely find time to get together with our senior friends.  I do volunteer at a Pro Life Pregnancy Center, and having contact with the young girls who are pregnant, educating them on their "first" and then having those come in who have been through it a few times, sharing their troubled lives with me, does give me a sense of value and importance.  I am able to share some of my life experiences as a mother, grandmother, teacher and day care owner with them.  I leave every time after my three hour shift feeling so alive and productive.  Then I have kept teaching CCD classes which I have done for accumulated over 30 years.  I love walking into the school, greeting my third graders who can not wait to tell me their story of "Guess what happened?"  On Tuesday mornings I can't wait to join our Bible Study members who are for the most part 60+, this is my adult time to share my faith and family time.  In between it's all about the grown kids and grandkids functions.  In the past couple of weeks we have had a bit of a lull in getting together, and of course my hubby and I are starting to feel a little lonely and restless.  I fear we have not yet managed to just sit back and enjoy the down time.  But if I did not have all these things to give my life meaning, I would imagine depression would set in quite quickly because I can be a pjs all day long kind of person, especially in the winter.  All the points you make as to why as we age we are not able to be more active are so spot on.  You have given me lots of insight to help me prepare myself, and hopefully consider how I will manage to continue being active in spite of the aging process, that will in time interfere with my capabilities of remaining active.

I can say........... we will always have SeniorLearn's book club to keep our minds active!!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 14, 2017, 11:46:45 AM
Barb,   on anger....."it pumps the adrenaline and makes you feel powerful like a bull moose who bellows and blows up his body to scare rather than engaging in a butting battle."

Yes, indeed, I know that feeling oh so well!  Anger, while you are experiencing it, can make you feel like you can take on the world!  The sad reality is...... the world is not ready for you, while you are angry.  This president has a tendency to tweet when he is angry, oh how I wish he would count to ten, twenty or even to one-hundred before hitting the "send" button.  (Not to get political, just another reason for why we should stop and think, before reacting with our anger.)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 14, 2017, 02:23:40 PM
The little bit about the power of the word reminded me of... "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." Seems like John is showing their early Jewish roots.

This is not part of the old Testament. So I don't know i f you can really call it Jewish roots.

"Who is sick?  If I am sick I go to my son, the psychiatrist,"  said Faegl."
This is so typical of the way old people talk here as well. lol  always showing pride of their children accomplishments as if it was their own doing.

"Yet Center folks experienced their connections with each other most convincingly and easily by the expression of anger and conflict.  Anger is a powerful indication of engagement between people ".... (this is what Barbara said above), the very opposite of indifference." It may be regarded as the most dramatic proof of responsiveness and caring. It is also a mode of relationship by people to allow them to deny that they are helpless victims of circumstances.  By demonstrating opposition, per se, one is asserting that he or she has some degree of assertiveness, autonomy, and  power over oneself and possibly others.  It is a basic form of remaining attached."

I do agree totally with this, having observe it  so often, even among the readers coming to exchange their books in the library where I volunteer.  Some want to jump before the one who arrived before them, because "they are more busy", or they don't have "time for small talk" etc.  When they are denied to have their own way, then start the name calling, or unfriendly remarks.  It is not done to hurt, but to show ones worth and the will not to be "second class" as they call it

Barb,   It is so vital elderly people find ways of keeping in touch with others. ...
I can say........... we will always have SeniorLearn's book club to keep our minds active!!
.

So right. The internet has widen my life in unexpected ways.  I had just a few friends and acquaintances after I moved in Israel.  I had a hard time getting used to the people here, the different mentality.  Normally I am not very sociable either I suppose.  With the net, it was like a new world and I found it easier to open up and allow new exchanges. Now it seems I made many friends and even met with some.  So old age for me was richer than before.


About superstition - as I said, many have these fears, or beliefs.  All that was new for me.  The first time a neighbor tffu-tffu -tffu on me, I asked her why she was spitting at me and she explained it was to ward against the evil eye about what she was talking about!
Another is about getting a glass of water thrown on me when getting to the taxi taking me to the airport.  Apparently it guarantee a safe journey.  Lending a coin to the passenger  does the same effect: it ensure a safe return so as to give back the loan.
It was quite an education to immigrate!


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 14, 2017, 08:36:59 PM
Bubble
Quote
Some want to jump before the one who arrived before them, because "they are more busy", or they don't have "time for small talk" etc.  When they are denied to have their own way, then start the name calling, or unfriendly remarks.  It is not done to hurt, but to show ones worth and the will not to be "second class" as they call it.

Whoaaaa..... I can tell you that would not happen in the United States, and if someone tried it, I would be a bit shocked at what would happen.  Gosh, just a customer cutting in a line at Walmart has resulted in full blown fist fights.  There is a semblance of  etiquette regardless of what nationality, or where you are living, and to have the mind set to think you are entitled to act like this to show ones worth and not be "second class" is no excuse for such rude behavior. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 14, 2017, 09:06:40 PM
sounds like you trip went well Hongfan... do you change planes in Japan or in another location?

Barbara, thanks for asking, yes it was smooth. There are now direct flights between Boston and Shanghai, 14-15 hours one way, but for one reason or the other, I have not taken the direct flights yet (schedule, frequent mileage, price, etc), this time I took UA with a transfer at Newark, NJ. End to end is about 20-22 hours, but I am pretty good at sleeping on the airplane and have very little jet lag, so it is not a big deal to me.

Haven't been able to come here in the past few days and last night I finally caught up with your posts. Seems a lot on anger.

My thinking on this is, let me use an analogy, I am not a runner, so if one day I get up to run for 5 miles, or even 2 miles, I will likely collapse totally. For runners, they HAVE to run, say 5-6 miles a day, otherwise, they just don't feel right, both the body and the mood. Our biology adapts to our habits. This is what I think I see in the Center People, they are fighters, they are survivors, they HAVE to fight to feel right. Each ethnic group has some unique gene makeup based on the environment their ancestors lived over a long time. For instance, they found Chinese, with western diet, much easier to get diabetes compared to westerners, because our ancestors have lived with vegetable diet for a long time, so the biology of modern Chinese is not good at handling western style diet. My hypothesis is that with Jewish people has been dealing with so much hostility and dangers in their daily environment (just to think about what Shmuel described about his childhood), their "fighting" genes are probably very strong, this is optimization for survival. Therefore, for us, living in that daily argument, angry, conflict may well likely cause damages to our body easily (like my case for running), for our Center people, it is probably their way of daily running (like the case for runners), this makes them feel "normal".

This may also applies to Bubble's description about the scenes in the library.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 14, 2017, 09:23:45 PM
2. This is the chapter Jonathan referred to earlier when Myerhoff expresses irritation and impatience with the Center residents and their quarreling. Later she wonders why she was so irritated. What turned her around? What was the message of the apple skin? Do you find yourself irritated with the Center folks at the end of this chapter or more sympathetic?

If I hold the hypothesis I mentioned in the above post, i.e., the Jewish people are strong survivors and great fighters trained by their experiences with thousand of years of adversities, then I could also understand the behaviors at the lunch table. Survivors don't wait for someone to ask nicely - if you do, you are already dead. You ACT.

But what is interesting, to me, is that the author seems to somehow start to feel or behave like the Center people. Why do I say so? The case for the bruised apple is interesting. The author was angry that other people left her at last a bruised apple, and she was NOT happy with that - while in the meantime she expected that someone else on her table should have taken the bruised apple and be happy with it? To me, I think at that moment, she was starting to behave like the Center People, maybe unaware of by herself?

Bellamarie, I wonder if we ship a group of Americans to Israel, and live there for some time, would they start to behave the same in the library?

It also reminds me what Barbara mentioned in her earlier post "our genes and our social upbringing give us strong tendencies to do (and enjoy) what we do."
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 14, 2017, 10:23:07 PM
hongfan
Quote
Bellamarie, I wonder if we ship a group of Americans to Israel, and live there for some time, would they start to behave the same in the library?


Well, if the people in Israel act like this due to what has been proposed for "their worth and not be second class because of their past history, it wouldn't seem Americans would feel the need to act like this if they moved there.  Unless, we can consider the possibility that people will conform to the environment they are living in, and will take on the same attitudes and behavior as others.  Myself, personally, I can't imagine treating others this way. 

I was a bit surprised how Meyerhoff acted about the apple.  Funny how the "apple" brought her to being a bit selfish and hateful.  Kinda reminds me of the temptation in the Garden of Eden where the "apple" is the fruit to cause Adam and Eve to misbehave.  It surely is a cute analogy, don't you think?   :D

It's a bit funny, because all this talk of acting differently in another country/environment had me remembering a cute story my friend Debbie told after coming home from Germany.  Mind you she is sixty-four years old and stands 4'9 inches counting her curly hair top.  She was with a group tour from the United States and they were in Germany, a teenage girl had to use the restroom, she was very nervous and asked Debbie to stand watch so no one entered the bathroom.  Debbie stood guard and was going to make sure no male entered the restroom where the teenage girl was in.  A very large security officer approached the door, Debbie stood with her arms outstretched preventing him from going in.  She said, "Excuse me but you can't go in there my friend is in there."  I have no idea if he spoke English or not, but he went to scoot her aside so he could enter.  She remained with her arms barring the door, saying he has to wait.  He was a bit perturbed with here, and stood staring at her.  Luckily, the teenager came out of the restroom and they darted off.  I was simply in shock thinking of what position Debbie was putting herself in while visiting another country.  I asked her if at any time she was afraid of being arrested or assaulted, her response was,  "I only had one thought, and that was to keep him out, because there was no way I was letting him in while that young girl was in there."   

So who knows, my little tiny American friend showed more guts and strength, as if she was David facing down Goliath.  Maybe Americans would act like those in your library.   ;) 

When is Rome, do as the Romans do...... in this case Israel or Germany.   :D :D
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 14, 2017, 10:40:42 PM
Through those chapters so far and particularly in this chapter my favorite figure is Basha, she seems a natural leadership material, looked at how she eventually led the group to the reconciliation - isn't she amazing, at 89? She can be 29!

I wonder if there is research on Alzheimer's onset rate in Jewish group vs. other ethnic group. Seems to me with all these daily arguments, no one would have chance to get Alzheimer's?

The other day I got to learn that 20% of Nobel Prize winners are Jewish, given such a small percentage of population (less than 0.5%), isn't that impressive?  It makes me wonder how much Jewish brains benefit from those daily discussions and arguments?

By the way, I just started to listen to an audio book called Unfinished People: Eastern European Jews Encounter America. It included a story in the Old World, in a village, only one Jewish man subscribed the daily Hebrew newspaper, and the rest Jewish men came to the synagogue everyday, listened to him reading the newspaper and then interpreted among them; after some time, they didn't want to wait for him in the synagogue, so they went to his home to listen to his reading and discussed among them; after some time, they didn't want to wait for him in his home, they followed him to the post office, there they listened, discussed, shouted, and more than once the post master had to remind them that the post office was not their synagogue. I chuckled when I listened to this, it reminds me our Center people.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 15, 2017, 01:41:41 AM
Sorry I am going to be ugly - if you justify remaining as you are because of your history and your people's history that is the exact justification the the Irish used to stay drunk and in fact, it is what most alcoholics use as their rational for staying drunk - also, in the last 50 years or so, we have folks saying their childhood and the childhood of their parents  was so bad, (and for many yes, it was bad) that is the justification they use for being addicted to serious drugs till they end up in the morgue - just as there are criminal families that one generation after the other join the criminal ranks and all end up spending part of their life in prison or on the other side of the behavior coin, we have generations of circus folks and now most circuses are disbanded so they have to change.

We had poor folks who during the nineteenth century after generations of living what today we would call homeless, earning their daily keep as criminals till they were sent off to Australia or were indentured servants sent to America or Barbados or other locations populated with criminals - in the new location their environment changed and most could not stay alive in the new raw land using their old world thinking and skills - so I am sorry I do not buy it - anyone  can choose to become empowered with anger or they can learn to touch their inner power when they are living in a new environment -

I can understand questioning God but then, they chose a religion that is built on the belief of a single, vengeful and demanding God and so a lot of expectation from this God who let them down - Reading about the Center and the relationship of one to the other and to the whole group at the Center makes more sense thinking of the group as a Tribe just as other old cultures inter-marry and maintain their personal identities as a member of the group/tribe - These groups/tribes maintain a system of behavior indigenous to the group/tribe - the  group at the Center reject any change and so the initiation to this group appears to include a system of behavior that for me, does not make any of them endearing.

To use anger as a self empowering power grab is a choice - Yes, an easy choice, especially to those who do not have the influence of another way to express themselves - similar are drunks who never knew or saw men as teetotalers and to drink tea versus whiskey was less than manly... When you read about the early days of AA in Ireland and Scotland you learn just how difficult it was for men to go against hundreds of years of culture.

The opposite is also true. After 1000s of years of women operating as a second class with limited self expression and all of a sudden women have freedom and rights that take learning how to operate as well as, still feeling the need to pacify men who cannot let go and accept that women have rights - it's a power game, it's all the same thing - how we behave based in a historical context and then, justifying remaining the same because of that history!!??!!

And so, while reading further I understand where those at the Center are coming from and how they benefit from how they live their lives and I can see the argument for acting as they do - regardless that I like their behavior or not - I just see it as folks justifying what was as if it will always be and should always be what was because that is how we identify ourselves - which is the same as saying we accept that the world spins on an axis of the past - thinking and behaving as in the past does not move us towards a future with healthy behavior, self empowerment or the kind community relationships associated with world peace- assuming that we want world peace which requires among other behavior, kindness and emotional control rather than allowing our lizard brain free reign. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 15, 2017, 07:28:05 AM
Barbara, your comments made me think.

I think we all agree on the power of old habits, and I also tend to think people can change and do change, but that needs a motivation. It seems that the Center people are capable to modify their behaviors either for the love of Israel or the care of the Center - that happened at the beginning of Kominsky's time and is also what Basha used to help make the reconciliation happen in this chapter.

And I bet in the case of "we only have three days to figure out how to live under the water", people can become very very cooperative. So I think it is the question of what kind of motivation needed to engineer behavior changes, and how long you have to keep that motivation in order to have the new behavior sustained and hopefully become permanent.

I have zero knowledge about curing addictions, I am curious how they treat addictive and how effective those methods are?

I heard that the big challenge for weight reduction programs is to keep people with the new behavior (dietary changes, exercises) for long time?

And I am thinking what motivation is needed for the sitting president to change his tweeting habit, for instance?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 15, 2017, 07:36:01 AM
I was a bit surprised how Meyerhoff acted about the apple.  Funny how the "apple" brought her to being a bit selfish and hateful.  Kinda reminds me of the temptation in the Garden of Eden where the "apple" is the fruit to cause Adam and Eve to misbehave.  It surely is a cute analogy, don't you think?

Bellamarie, I like your analogy, it is cute, and now you made me think about the apple in the Judgement of Paris which led to the Trojan War. Is apple the oldest fruit on earth? Or what is so special of apple?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 15, 2017, 07:47:54 AM
This is from Wikipedia:

Apples appear in many religious traditions, often as a mystical or forbidden fruit. One of the problems identifying apples in religion, mythology and folktales is that as late as the 17th century, the word "apple" was used as a generic term for all (foreign) fruit other than berries, but including nuts.[1] This term may even have extended to plant galls, as they were thought to be of plant origin (see oak apple). For instance, when tomatoes were introduced into Europe, they were called "love apples". In one Old English work, cucumbers are called eorþæppla (lit. "earth-apples'), just as in French, Dutch, Hebrew, Persian and Swiss German as well as several other German dialects, the words for potatoes mean "earth-apples" in English. In some languages, oranges are called "golden apples" or "Chinese apples". Datura is called 'thorn-apple".

My, my, now we don't know what apple was in the Judgement of Paris or in the Garden of Eden?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 15, 2017, 08:08:36 AM
Wow, what a fascinating range of topics AND opinions. And there's hongfan from Shanghai and this morning's BBC news (which I start every morning with) includes a story from China, and I immediately thought of the Benches and Bellamarie's having said her husband likes to sit and wait when she shops and in that waiting he's talking to others (I think she said he's conversing, without looking back). Certainly at the Malls here you can see the same.

Well in Shanghai they have a new innovation, the "Husband Storage Pod," (https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/660/cpsprodpb/139CD/production/_96933308_92238fe4-0147-4955-a996-3b83aff93701.jpg) where the husband can while away the time amusing himself with video games and more.

According to the gentleman interviewed, however, it has no air circulation or air conditioning, so either they need to  put some in for the hot days or it will be of short duration. Which may be the intent. But isn't that a hoot? Obliviously he can play games here he couldn't on his phone or ipad (and there are such games) but the intent is different and once again technology intervenes with actual conversation. On the other hand perhaps he did not care to converse, it's obvious he's a younger man and most of them are tapping iphones at every opportunity. How we've changed!  http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-40609115

That makes me wonder  if the BENCHES outside the current Center are occupied with people conversing. I bet they still are! We need photos of Venice Beach, in the Center area, I bet Google Earth has them, I'll go see, but I also bet there are iphones and ipads too, and that more than one of the seniors are using them. Showing my son the doctor and my son the lawyer and the cutest grandchildren in the whole world.

Our folks, tho, are probably gone, and that's sobering.


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 15, 2017, 08:36:03 AM
Ok this is REALLY interesting. I went to look again and there are two Jewish Centers, a couple of blocks from each other. The one we're concerned with is the one we mentioned here before, now a Shul and family center, and it's SLAP on the beach.  There are no "benches" per se, but somebody has put up steps for sitting and chatting, here's a photo:
(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/Center.jpg)

That is the Synagogue on the left, the white building, and you can see the seats  in the right hand picture. These are not, if I'm reading the map correctly,  DIRECTLY in front but a little to the left. 

That's 505 Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach, CA. Looks like four people are already in place waiting for some companionship. Also looks to me like it's a full range of things to look at while they sit there.

The second one is a Jewish Center a couple of blocks down, at 201. The address says it's on the water, but while the building itself may be, the Center itself is a bit down another street. I am not able to get any satisfactory good images of it because I keep getting  lost in the side streets. You all can probably get a much better feel for it yourselves.  I have a feeling that the one people tend to congregate at daily  is our old Center location, the Shul, pictured above, whose program I put up before.

However the  Ira Levin Senior Adult Center at 201 seems to also  have a full range of activities and programs. Here's one list:

    Holocaust Survivor Support Group
    Second Gen Holocaust Survivor Support Group
    Domestic Violence Training
    Cafe Europa Valley July
    Cafe Europa City July
    FMMC Activities July
    WHCSC Spotlight July - September
    Israel Levin Activities July
    JFS { Israel Levin Venice Jam

    Get on Board with WeHo Transportation
    Paul Castro Attends Clinton Global Initiative
    JFS Voted Nonprofit of the Year by Assembly member Adrin Nazarian
    Watch our newest animated video!
    Jewish Journal article about the JFS { Lois & Richard Gunther Center

So from what I can tell from this, and it's not much, it seems that instead of only ONE center there are now two.



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 15, 2017, 09:00:17 AM
Ginny, this is interesting, but sad.  I know for a fact my hubby would never go inside a booth like this to play games, vs talking with strangers, while waiting for me to return from browsing in and out of stores at the mall.  He is too much of a people person.  Last week end he and I packed our picnic basket, grabbed a blanket, drove to Maumee Bay State Park, laid out our blanket and sat and people watched.  You would be surprised how many people get out to enjoy the beautiful weather, rather than stay in to watch tv on a Sunday afternoon.  I can tell you while there, we never saw anyone on their gadgets.  So just maybe the outdoors, walking, riding bikes, sailing, lying on their boats, eating ice cream cones, and having a fun time on a paddle boat under the fountain is enough for folks today.  I know it was a perfect three hours spent for us, eating our picnic lunch, reading my book, coloring in my spiritual book, sitting along the water, and strolling hand in hand with this wonderful man I have been married to for forty-six years.  Which brings me to wonder if any of our Center singles ever became more than just friends.  I would like to think they found companions through the years of seeing each other daily.   

Ginny, we were posting at the same time.  It's wonderful to see there are still Centers around.
   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 15, 2017, 09:20:28 AM
Barbara has raised a big question here and Hongfan has a thoughtful response. I'm not sure I agree with the idea that the Jewish people are perpetuating old behavior by remembering the past. I thought that was what we did with our thoughts of "Lord God of Hosts be with us yet, lest we forget, lest we forget?"

I thought the "lest we forget" was a reminder TO remember. There hasn't been another Holocaust, but Antisemitism still exists, and I think that's what they are constantly warning about. And they are right. If it could happen once, it could happen again.

We can see in the programs of the Ira Levin Center, there are still survivors of the Holocaust. How could anybody ever forget something like that? And more to the point, why should they? WE in America did not  SEE all the film and testimony  of what really happened, but they did elsewhere in the world. I've seen some of  it and it's unbelievable. That's why Stephen Spielberg  set out to interview as many as he could. Lest we forget.

On alcoholism, has it not been proven that the susceptibility to alcoholism is genetic? That is, IF you start, genetically you are programmed not to do well in trying to stop? I THOUGHT I had read that, which I think is said as a warning, but perhaps some people might use as an excuse.

Of course again in some societies (that Tribes allusion, Barbara, was great) I do agree  alcoholism is a learned cultural  coping mechanism, like anger, and passive aggressive behavior, and is handed down. It may take a lot of strength to oppose it in those thus exposed.   LOTS more to say but a grandson has just entered the house (talk about expanding frames, full of happiness and joy and ENERGY so I will be this afternoon returning, re-framed. :)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 15, 2017, 11:20:45 AM
There are two parts to alcoholism just as there are two parts when addicted to drugs - the part that is physical where the substance affects the brain - forgot the name of the spot in the brain but it is where we strain out what is pleasant and what is not - so that we all prefer to feel good and to break that cycle of using a substance to feel good is one aspect - The other aspect, that is as big, is the behavior that is the lifestyle of an addictive person - changing behavior takes years and years because the addictive personality and the subsequent addictive behavior is insidious as part of our thinking - Folks who attend AA meetings and want to change have a sponsor to help but it takes attending meetings for years where daily experiences are shared and explored for better way to handle life. Then folks, like myself have learned this behavior since we are the children or grandchildren of alcoholics where that was the only behavior we knew. It is not easy - and it takes much effort but it can be done as millions will testify.

I do think there is a difference in the behavior we expect from others - if the other is a leader we have a different set of standards however, they are our standards that we use to measure and judge - others may not share our viewpoint therefore they have a different opinion. This goes for our president as well as reading a book about a group of people.

As I evaluate maintaining a posture of anger to me is like playing with fire - Anger leaves little room for calm thoughtful solution making thinking which is the skill we use to sort out differences and to realize we cannot expect others to agree with our expectations for behavior - if we could, there would be no need for laws, lawyers, courts, halfway houses etc.

Incessant tweeting is a symptom of a system of behavior just as anger is a symptom of a system of behavior just as dulling the pain of our lives by feeling good with alcohol or drugs is a symptom of a system of behavior - to understand the value of a system of behavior means shedding expectations of behavior using our own as the goal post - then we can decide if we admire or not the behavior and if we want to adapt any part of it to our own life.

Many today think the more drama the more important and necessary they and their life issue is to others - we are surrounded with folks who in order to gain free media and public attention are masters at creating drama and so too within families and within communities we have those who master the skill of creating drama - they know how to attract attention using drama - this group appears to outdo each other in creating drama rather than, outdoing each other in helpful service to each other and to the larger community. I just do not admire their choice.

If there is no choice in behavior because events prevent us from making choices than we are saying there is no free will and no individual power - we are all controlled by our circumstances.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 15, 2017, 12:22:53 PM
Wow!  How did we get to the topic of alcoholism?  There has been extensive research on this topic and alcoholism is proven to be genetic.  People who are genetically predisposed to alcoholism have a higher risk of becoming addicted. Although people can inherit alcoholic tendencies, the development of an alcohol use disorder is also dependent on social factors.  I have alcoholism in my family, many family members belong to AA and have successfully not used any type of substances be it alcohol or drugs since the began AA.  I attended an Alanon meeting, brought home  phamphlets, and talked with professionals on this topic.  I have not cared for drinking, I may have an alcoholic beverage once in awhile, but could really care less about it.  I do see that in social situations many of my friends and family members abuse it, and because of this the younger generations are following in the same path.  I worry about my granddaughter who just turned twenty-one and drinks alcohol almost daily.  I do believe even though we can be predisposed to alcoholism, we do have the free will to chose to either not drink at all, or do it moderately. 

The world has become one huge drama queen, thanks to our media turning into a drama frenzy.  I refuse to turn any MSM channels on my tv.  I leave my tv off the entire day and watch only my selected shows on my DVR.  Yes, I prefer watching the Kartrashians as Ginny called them instead of News programs.  I refuse to have our local newspaper delivered to my house even when it is offered six months FREE because it is so biased.  Liberals own most of all the News networks, programming, magazines, newspapers, etc., and the bias is insane.  I like two sides to every story and all there is now is constant hate mongering.  It just makes my head spin.  At my age, I just don't need nor want the drama.  We do have free will and I exercise mine.  Okay, done with all this because it only upsets me to be reminded of where we are today.  I am off to a pleasant pool party with family & friends! 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 15, 2017, 04:14:25 PM
Worlds of great posts, and so many thoughts!

I'll just pick a few,and not say who said it,  but feel free to respond to anything you see posted.

You would be surprised how many people get out to enjoy the beautiful weather, rather than stay in to watch tv on a Sunday afternoon.

  No I don't think so, it's common everywhere including Europe, the parks are full of people enjoying the day and the sun.

I thought your description of the picnic basket and day was just wonderful, Bellamarie!   :)


 I don't think anyone really can ever know another person 100%.
I agree 100%. What do the rest of you think?

"Frames" is an interesting concept  for this author to take up. I think we see people through "frames," ourselves.  We see them through our own prisms, so we read into them or their words or their actions what WE think from our own experience they are and are saying.  We don't know THEM at all.

The Center people at least have a bit of safety, in the fact they go there each day, face to face, knowing each other.  When an outsider comes into their Center they are cautious and careful.  This is a very good point.

My thinking is to expand our frame is a challenge because at a certain point it is starting all over unless you are in the habit of making friends 15 and 20 years younger than yourself - as we age we loose our friends to death - nursing homes most often located in another city and to those who move close to their children - so unless you have younger acquaintances there is no one left.


Another excellent point, Barbara. I well remember the author who wrote 64 Charing Cross Road.  I still feel sad that we did not know she was alive when we read her book at least we could have reached out to her and let her know how much we loved it. From the article on her in  The New York  Times:

But ''84, Charing Cross Road'' could not provide its author with the economic stability she sought throughout her life. ''The one drawback about being a writer is that you never know in any month where the rent is coming from six months from then,'' Ms. Hanff told Publishers Weekly in 1985.

In her last years she was ''broke,'' by her own account, living on royalties and Social Security and accepting a $5,000 grant from the Authors League Fund to help pay her hospital bills.

No immediate family members survive.


So she died penniless in a home but she did not lack friends because she had made  friends who were a lot younger. When I first read of her death I thought oh she's so elderly. She was 80!!!!! She had expanded her frames all over the place.

These people in the Center I think use anger as a form of communication like my Italian family, they know nothing different.  When Dr. Cohen comes in with is calm, slow, psychological techniques, they immediately start yelling at him.


Why, do you all think?  Because they are afraid? Because he's from the City Health Department?  That's scary in itself.

Lots more, you've said a lot of great stuff.



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 15, 2017, 04:31:33 PM
we will always have SeniorLearn's book club to keep our minds active!!

I hope so. :)

always showing pride of their children accomplishments as if it was their own doing.
  Good point, Bubble.  There are a lot of people who live thru their children's accomplishments. Especially noted are parents who themselves did not play sports well but who are determined their son or daughter will be a star athlete. Read the autobiography sometime of Andre Agassi. I am thinking of a neighbor on NJ now who was determined his poor son would be a star athlete. The boy had no interest or talent, it did not go well. Such mistakes we as parents make!!!!


With the net, it was like a new world and I found it easier to open up and allow new exchanges. Now it seems I made many friends and even met with some.  So old age for me was richer than before.

That is lovely,  Bubble!


It was quite an education to immigrate!
  I can well imagine. It's an education to move to different parts of the US, too.


Whoaaaa..... I can tell you that would not happen in the United States,

Oh yes, ma'am, it would and did. When we as Book Clubbers and Latin students went to the last Bookfest in NYC it happened then. We had attended the Broadway Musical Million Dollar Quartet the night that Jerry Lee Lewis was himself to appear onstage. I think he was the only member of those 4 who was alive, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and  Carl Perkins (not sure about him) still alive.   Because Gay, one of our Latin students from England,  turned out to be a true Jerry Lee Lewis fan, I gave her my seat which was down front (and turned out to be the center of attention for the famous guest (s) who sat a couple of seats from her, too.)

So afterwards we had to meet up and wait for her and suddenly there was all this excitement, security pushing back the crowds, limo, etc., and a celebrity who had been in the building was coming OUT!! Crowd instantly becomes hysterical.  Who IS  it? I was on the front, the very front of the crowd, that had been pushed back.  I thought perhaps it might be Lewis, who would be interesting (the show was magnificent, the  young man who played him was out of this world,  and then Lewis also took the stage, it was great fun)...and anyway excitement rose to a fever pitch and they began to exclaim .....rumor flew it was Bill Clinton!!!  And his daughter Chelsea who had been at the same row Gay was in, with her fiance or husband or something.

I didn't care about seeing Bill Clinton, no offense, but I didn't. So I thought well how  to get out of this pressing crowd and not get stuck staring him  in the face with nothing useful to say or do. How to act? Because I literally would have been able to reach out and touch him.  I needn't have worried. The doors flew open, security burst out, and guess what? I was suddenly for no reason at all in the 6th or 7th rank of spectators. People, well dressed, elegant looking older people  pushed and shoved and crowded their way to the front and to be truthful all I saw was his white hair.

And again when we used to take the kids to Florida each summer at the beach and always go to Disney World, those shuttle buses to get to the outer parking lots? Forget it. We were pushed aside so many times it seems we would never get out. THAT has changed. I guess it has, we stay at the park now and Disney has been very clever with their lines so we are not taking shuttle buses anywhere. I did not see any pushing or shoving  last time on any of the transportation venues, Disney has a clamp on good manners but who knows what would happen if suddenly Bill  Clinton appeared? hahahaa



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 15, 2017, 04:52:09 PM
THIS, I thought, was fascinating!

But what is interesting, to me, is that the author seems to somehow start to feel or behave like the Center people. Why do I say so? The case for the bruised apple is interesting. The author was angry that other people left her at last a bruised apple, and she was NOT happy with that - while in the meantime she expected that someone else on her table should have taken the bruised apple and be happy with it?

I missed that, Hongfan, entirely.

Immediately I thought of a series of books for children that were sold in sets in the US by traveling salesmen in the 50's I think, handsome little books of homilies and moral tales called Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories. In these British Christian theology centered books, there was a story about a little boy who always took the largest apple or piece of anything, so his.....grandmother, I think, made a beautiful set of tarts and made one much bigger than the others and prettier, and of course he chose it, and it was hollow. I don't have to tell you the moral or the lesson the child needed to learn but it seems that in our modern tale, the author was not of the same persuasion. i find that fascinating!

But then what happened? I need to read that over again, there was a dream about an apple peel or something?

I tell you what, there is a medicine I've been given called Amlodapine  or something like that. It causes fatigue so I started taking it at night where it regales me with old memories I had hoped were long forgotten, but the mind remembers, it remembers and that handy little BP med will probably put me under the ground with its nightly nightmares. I read somewhere the brain keeps working over (here I am again with research with NO substantiation) what worries you or puzzles you until it resolves it, including all night long.

So what did Myerhoff's dream mean? I need to go back and read that again.

To me, I think at that moment, she was starting to behave like the Center People, maybe unaware of by herself?

Oh cool, I missed all this, I must go back.

I wonder if we ship a group of Americans to Israel, and live there for some time, would they start to behave the same in the library?

Good question. Nature vs nurture.

Germany, a teenage girl had to use the restroom, she was very nervous and asked Debbie to  This story confused me, Bellamarie? Was it a unisex bathroom?

Seems to me with all these daily arguments, no one would have chance to get Alzheimer's?

Or die early of a stroke.

Eastern European Jews Encounter America  That sounds like a good book. There is an Immigrant Museum in NYC right down from where we stayed when we went to NYC and I never got in it, it's a brownstone fixed up just as it would have been lived in then.

Anybody have a guess as to what this means? "A frontal attack would tail, but what that strategy might be, no one could foresee." What does that mean?  Page 158.


 What did you think about Myerhoff's take on Rain Dancing? (page 190, bottom)

I am hating to see the book ending. The next Chapter, Chapter 6 (how did we miss one or can't I count?) at any rate is called Number Our Days. I am afraid to read this because I worry that ends will be tied up and I hate to see our Center Folks ...go out. It starts on page 195 and goes to page 231,  and is followed by a big long Chapter 7 and then a short Epilogue and Afterword. (Like Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Future I fear these two the most. But it looks like we must gird ourselves and plunge in.

Should we say Wednesday, then for Chapter 7, Number our Days? Till then we can talk about anything you feel is important or what stood out for you in this chapter?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 15, 2017, 10:23:00 PM
Ginny, 
Quote
This story confused me, Bellamarie? Was it a unisex bathroom?

Gosh, I'm not sure if she stated if it was a unisex bathroom.  We were all at our girl's luncheon, she got up to use the restroom and came back laughing that she had accidentally walked into the men's bathroom and then proceeded to tell us this story about when she was in Germany with the tour group, and the teenage girl went into the restroom and was nervous about a man coming in.  I'm assuming it was NOT a ladies ONLY restroom because she would have had no reason to be concerned. Sorry for the confusion.  We all found it quite amusing, and yet concerned for our tiny little friend to stand up to a very large security guard in a foreign country.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 15, 2017, 10:23:18 PM
The moral of the rotten apple story surely is: don't be at the end of any line. Better pickings the closer you are to the front. Isn't it wonderful trying to understand Jewish behavior  among the seniors at the Center. First, a quote from the book:

'It seems that a woman nobody knew, a South American Jew, had stopped in the Center during one of their 'commotions.' She died shortly after and in her will left the Center five hundred dollars because she found the old people so wonderful, so full of life.' p191

Early in the discussion the question was asked, Do the Chinese and the Jews have something in common? It's well known that both urge their children to excel. Life is all about competing, whether it's in the marketplace or at the civil service examinations. Do they seem pushy? Shucks, no, folks. It's a race. My test of civilized behavior is, are they good drivers. How does the traffic move in Tel Aviv, Bubbles? Do they cooperate? Do they yield when it's wise to do so? Are drivers subject to road rage? Does one get a finger or a smile in tight situations?

I'm pondering the suggestion of tribalism in the community. My experience is that no race has a greater desire to be cosmopolitan than the Jew.

I like what Shmuel has to say about his compatriots, at the end of the chapter:

'We stay the same. It is our nature. We try to bring order out of things, but we are hopeless. We have pretensions, but we are not getting anywhere. Man cannot find order in his own bosom, that goes for the Jew and the Gentile....The Jews have not been tested in our day.

What a strange thing to say.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 16, 2017, 05:01:47 AM

Early in the discussion the question was asked, Do the Chinese and the Jews have something in common? It's well known that both urge their children to excel. Life is all about competing, whether it's in the marketplace or at the civil service examinations. Do they seem pushy? Shucks, no, folks. It's a race. My test of civilized behavior is, are they good drivers. How does the traffic move in Tel Aviv, Bubbles? Do they cooperate? Do they yield when it's wise to do so? Are drivers subject to road rage? Does one get a finger or a smile in tight situations?

On the road, as in lines, you have to be pushy. Most drivers would take chances, just to be the first at the red light.  If you see the red light ahead and start to slow down, the one behind will start hooting if he has no free lane to overtake.  Hooting is general. My Canadian friend who was on a visit was stupefied by the hooting at all hours, even at night, on the street in front of my building.  Time is money, right?
And the worse drivers are taxi drivers and doctors who generally are very in-attentive. Maybe their mind is busy on their patients?  As for texting and driving, it is against the law and the fines  are heavy.  But who ever heard of obeying the law???
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 16, 2017, 10:04:46 AM
Gosh, I'm not sure if she stated if it was a unisex bathroom.  We were all at our girl's luncheon, she got up to use the restroom and came back laughing that she had accidentally walked into the men's bathroom and then proceeded to tell us this story about when she was in Germany with the tour group, and the teenage girl went into the restroom and was nervous about a man coming in.  I'm assuming it was NOT a ladies ONLY restroom because she would have had no reason to be concerned. Sorry for the confusion.  We all found it quite amusing, and yet concerned for our tiny little friend to stand up to a very large security guard in a foreign country.

Thank you for trying to clarify that, Bellamarie.  I do understand the intended point of the story. It's a good tale, but I think she was lucky in the man she encountered. As  you say, there are always two sides to every story.

Bubble, horn  honking!!! It's considered quite rude to do that where I live (admittedly not a large city), and it's dying out.  Usually if somebody does honk a horn, say, for a delayed reaction to a light turning green, it depends entirely on how the horn is honked. A light tap usually gets a wave, anything else gets something else. We have enough nuts on the roads as it is and Road Rage, we don't need any more.  Is there a lot of Road Rage in Israel?

Horn honking is just another example of anger, isn't it?

I agree, Jonathan, that IS a strange thing to say. What did YOU think Shmuel meant? (I misspell Shmuel every time because of the lack of vowels where I think they should be.)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 16, 2017, 01:19:40 PM
"I misspell Shmuel every time because of the lack of vowels where I think they should be"

As you probably know, everyday Hebrew is written without vowels.  Reading is really a guessing game - it does keep the attention sharp.

Road rage?  Yes I suppose it exists.  Of late we  have an epidemic of drivers running over pedestrians, often killing them and sometimes fleeing the site without giving help to the victim.  This month, I hear a case on the news about every second day!  We a;so had 38 cases of husbands murdering their wife since the beginning of the year :(  I don't know how one can explain what is happening to people these days.  Too much violence.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 16, 2017, 07:04:01 PM
 Striking pedestrians and leaving them there? Wow. Are they texting or just...?

I just saw one on TV on the evning news, the driver hit two girls and their little brother but miraculously , all survived!

I started to read the next chapter so I would be ready Wednesday and was stunned, I couldn't put it down. It's amazing  lessons  in how to grow old, and what makes for successful aging. I can't wait till we get there Wednesday!

(Did you just see that 100 year old woman break the record for the 100 yard dash? In her class?) Do I have those numbers right?  Man that makes me want to get out there.

 But I did reread the apple thing, hongfan, and you are right.  The author felt aggrieved with being left the bruised ones and angry in general toward the quarrelsome Center folks. But then...she had something of an epiphany. I had some problems with this issue so reread it.

She  DREAMED and here again, DREAMS are going to enter into the next chapter, but she dreamed that (this starts on page 188)   she had traveled to Poland, and that Carlos Castaneda opened a door to a hotel and pointed to some hieroglyphic writing on the wall. She was supposed to decipher it. There was a bowl of apples on the table.
She removed one, polished it on her sleeve, and held it up to the hieroglyphics.  Reflected  on the shiny surface of the apple, she could read the message.  But she forgot it when she woke up.

So a couple of days later she went back to the  Center, and did not know what she had been so upset about. "Then I understood the message on the apple skin. The selfish women at my table for lunch were themselves too bruised to graciously accept a damaged piece of fruit. The meal had been free-- a windfall-- but its conclusion  had threatened another disappointment and that was too much to bear. These people themselves were too much like rotten, unwanted fruit. Their struggle with the better apples was a small way of repudiating their own condition."

OK so....now I come back to hongfan's thought on  the author who also was...was she?.... disappointed in the bruised apple left, so much so that she became disenchanted for the first time with the Center folks themselves. So....what does that say?


And what are we to make of the dream?


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 16, 2017, 08:41:27 PM
I think this book may be getting to me just a little bit.  I told you all about my family friend Marilyn who moved into an elderly center last year.  Well, yesterday I was talking to my daughter in law's mother Sandy who just got her keys and will be moving into an apartment complex for elderly on fixed income.  He husband passed away in March and my son and her daughter have had her living with them since his death.  She was feeling like she was ready to try living by herself so she is letting her house go back to the bank due the the fact she can not financially keep it and afford to live alone there.  Talking with her yesterday was so sad, she is dealing with letting go of all her things she has gathered over her forty years living in her home with her husband.  She is apprehensive about living in this apartment living alone for the first time ever.  I was telling her about this book we are reading and how it is dealing with aging, loneliness, children growing up and the changes we all go through as we age.  I shared stories from the book and told her how these elderly people were all single and depended on the Center for friendship and interaction with others.  She told me of a couple ladies she has already met, and how excited they were to see a new person moving in.  They have a meeting room, a work out room, a little space outside her apartment she can plant flowers, which she was happy about.  I think after talking with her she felt so much better, but I am not sure my pep talk helped me.  I have been feeling a bit blue today.  I am just so thankful I still have my hubby, but watching Sandy go through these past few months has been such a reality check for me, and this book has really got me aware of things.  I can see how if you do not stay involved in activities, family, and friends you could slip into a depression and your health would start to fail quickly.  I am so proud of my son for welcoming his mother in law into his home when she needed their family so badly, to help her transition through this time of grief.  My/her grandchildren have been a huge help in keeping her busy and feeling needed and loved.  Her daughter has allowed her the time she has needed to be prepared to move out when she decided to.  We have all told her that at any time she feels she needs someone, just drive to their house and have dinner, visit or spend the night.  She will only be ten minutes away.  I think I will find her a copy of this book and give to her along with a housewarming (apartment) gift.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 16, 2017, 10:55:22 PM
God bless you, Bellamarie, for helping others in need. You truly are a good Samaritan. And Sandy is fortunate to have you and her daughter helping her through a difficult time. I have no doubt she will find this book a great distraction. It certainly is for me. I've just noticed that you and I posted at the exact same minute last night.

Bubble, I'm horrified to hear about the hazardous traffic where you live. Do take care. It reminds me of our traffic of years ago. We've found that driver etiquette moves traffic in everybodys favor.

Ginny, what a splendid thing to aim for. The dash at 100!!! Go for the Olympics!!!

I have a serious problem with an anthropologist becoming disenchanted with her subject. Do you think Shmuel is a bad influence? I don't know what to make of that curious dream of hers.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 17, 2017, 09:10:33 AM
 That was lovely of you Bellamarie, why not invite her in here and everybody in her apartment complex to the book club?  This is kind of like a Center itself,  isn't it?
A Virtual Center.

When I first read your post I was so happy for Sandy's bold new direction, and her wanting some independence, because it seemed to me she was expanding her frame all over the place and I was glad for her. 10 minutes is nothing.  Unlike Sandy many of those at the Center do not live close to their children and feel (whether or not it's the case) somewhat on their own. She is not "abandoned." It worked for Marilyn, didn't it?

We have three here on SeniorLearn who have just done the same, 4 if you count moves in progress. So Sandy is in good company.

She's only been widowed  4 months if I read that right,  lots of changes for her. Hopefully if she has to move so soon  from her old home, which itself will be traumatic, she  will enjoy her new space and her new friends. I hope she finds a new world to enjoy,  and I admire her for wanting some independence.  How about let us know how it works out? Tell her the Virtual Center is pulling for her. hahaha

Jonathan, I have a serious problem with an anthropologist becoming disenchanted with her subject. Do you think Shmuel is a bad influence? I don't know what to make of that curious dream of hers.


Well on the other hand, even tho she's supposed to meld, she is entitled to be disenchanted, right? Does that show that she is becoming like them as hongfan thought, (perhaps the assimilation was TOO good and she's become one with the kvetching herself?) The Narrator as Kvetcher?

And really that type of thinking, the critical, negative, way of thought is contagious.

Funny on Shmuel (thank you for that reminder,  Bubble, about the consonants, I had forgotten that), being a "bad influence." IS he?  What do you all think?

I will say  I was somewhat surprised at his comments here, the  length of them and the  depth of them and what appeared to be the  burden of giving them. I think...hadn't he already died?   But this is not fiction and so he gave apparently a lot more thoughts than we saw before he died... I am sensing, critical negative thing that I am,  (and I AM working on it) there was more to those last interview comments than she originally said, you can see the weariness in these.

It was a series of interesting things about the apple, wasn't it? Three apples left, the almost fight over them, and the guilty looks they gave her..that alone I think I could riff on a long time. Why should they shoot her guilty looks and not shoot any at the other Center members? Why should SHE think of them as guilty looks and become angry and disgusted? Surely she is not starving? I wouldn't want one of the apples if they had been the best in the land, I just personally don't have a need to take one: let them have them. Maybe she did become one of them for a second, trying to politely fit in.  Not understanding this bit.

So she dreams: Carlos Castaneda opened a door to a hotel and pointed to some hieroglyphic writing on the wall. She was supposed to decipher it. There was a bowl of apples on the table.

She removed one, polished it on her sleeve, and held it up to the hieroglyphics.  Reflected  on the shiny surface of the apple, she could read the message.  But she forgot it when she woke up.

. "Then I understood the message on the apple skin. The selfish women at my table for lunch were themselves too bruised to graciously accept a damaged piece of fruit. The meal had been free-- a windfall-- but its conclusion  had threatened another disappointment and that was too much to bear. These people themselves were too much like rotten, unwanted fruit. Their struggle with the better apples was a small way of repudiating their own condition."
[/b]

I am having a lot of trouble with this interpretation. If "these people themselves were too much like rotten, unwanted fruit," then why did it bother her not to have one of the better pieces of fruit?   That's the $64,000 question.

Do YOU, with your lack of anthropological knowledge, see these people as "rotten, unwanted fruit?" She's not saying they felt like that, she's saying they were too much like that.  I have to object, my own frame of reference does not allow this, at all.

That's would never have occurred to me. My own inadequacy  here? I'm having a lot of problems with this facile Miracle of the Apple Dream. I mean we know that the mind does work all night while we are supposedly sleeping trying to figure out things that troubled or puzzled it during the day. So this may have, in fact, happened. But the interpretation of it  is really....  too much, for me at least, what do you all think?

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 17, 2017, 09:54:30 AM
"Then I understood the message on the apple skin. The selfish women at my table for lunch were themselves too bruised to graciously accept a damaged piece of fruit. The meal had been free-- a windfall-- but its conclusion  had threatened another disappointment and that was too much to bear. These people themselves were too much like rotten, unwanted fruit. Their struggle with the better apples was a small way of repudiating their own condition."

I did not like the whole apple thing at all.  As you noticed, I earlier commented about the apple causing sin, first in the Garden of Eden, and then now with Myerhoff in how she reacted and talked about the Center people being damaged and bruised fruit.  That shocked me when I read her expressing her personal feelings coming out in her dream.  I've heard dreams can be our subconscious thoughts. 

Thank you Jonathan and Ginny for all your kind words.  I would love to invite Sandy to our online book club, the only probably is she does not have wifi.  I'm going to talk to my son and daughter in law once Sandy has gotten moved into her apartment and see if there is any way they could provide her with wifi.  Sandy has never been on the internet before, she has no computer, tablet or smart phone.  Before her husband died in March they accumulated enormous medical bills and financially she has to give up her house.  She lived with my son and her daughter for these past four months, but I think as we all can attest to, once we are our age it's fun to be around our kids and grandchildren for a while, but living with them with all their busy lives with the kids she found it was too much for her.  As much as we at our age may feel lonely when our kids are not around, we do like our quiet time and alone time.  In a house of three grandchildren involved in school, sports, friends, etc., she felt overwhelmed.  I do think it takes a lot of courage for her to make the effort to find this apartment, and decide it was time for her to move out.  I was talking to Natasha her daughter and my son yesterday and they seem to be having a difficult time letting her go.  I know Natasha will worry about if she is okay, but like I pointed out, she is only minutes away.  I'll keep you all abreasted how it goes.

I have started the next chapter and oh boy Myerhoff has me shaking my head.  Seems she packed an entire thesis in one chapter.  Can't wait to hear what everyone has to say.

Bubble,  The traffic sounds horrid!!!  I can no longer drive on the expressway due to so much havoc, I can't imagine dealing with rude and impatient people on our local streets.

Taking the two grandkids Zak & Zoey, to see Despicable Me 3 today, so will check in later....
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 17, 2017, 10:17:22 AM
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(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/NumberourDayscover.jpg)


They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it on subjects in the USA, and let them speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us! 

Questions to Ponder on  Chapter 4

Chapter 6: "Teach us to number our days."

 Chapter 6 is a chapter with a BANG!  There's so  much to try to take in it's almost impossible to select one thing.

1.   What stood out the most for you in this chapter? Why?

2. "A lot of people don't realize how we got to look out for ourself in our old age. We think life is only for the children, then we're alone. We got to face the world in a new way.  This means you find your own kind, so you can be comfortable, otherwise you are lost completely. For some people old age is a terrible ordeal because of the loneliness. But if you manage to find yourself you take a big step. You stop thinking about death. When you have every day something to do, you begin to live all over again." (Rachel) Page 196)


There is a lot of wisdom about old age in this chapter.  Which advice seems the best to you? Do you think Rachel is correct?

3. What did you think of the story of  Jacob Koved? There are many pages devoted to Jacob but not very many conversations with the author  quoted. What is the result of this presentation? The author concludes: "Jacob was not only a symbol of and force for continuity, but also he was to Center members a symbol of the possibilities of aging well. Extreme age had not cost Jacob clarity of mind, determination of purpose, or passion in life. All this he maintained with an air of gentleness and dignity. Tolerant and generous, he aroused no envy; Jacob was a symbolic and literal focus of Center culture and of the people's fragile solidarity and continuity."  (Page 206).

Did you wonder why Jacob is a symbol, almost a superhuman symbol,  and Shmuel isn't? Or is Shmuel? Which one do you feel more drawn to? Why?

4.  What did you think of the statement on page 208: "None of them had ever celebrated their birthdays in this fashion. Indeed, it was customary to commemorate the day of one's birth on the closest Jewish holiday, thus submerging private within religious celebrations."

 Have you ever heard of or experienced this custom? Why then has Jacob left money for celebrations for his birthday for the next 5 years?


Those seem enough to start us out, if you don't like any of them, let's talk about what struck YOU?


What do YOU think?


 


I also did not like the apple incident, I reread it again for the Nth time and still  her interpretation of the dream does not "click".
I can understand the two who fought for the last apples and giving her furtive looks.  They felt some guilt for not letting their visitor have  a choice.

Yes Driving here is getting dangerous.  I avoid the inter town highway if I can help it.  The radio airs flashes a few times a day to remind people to be more considerate and to be careful at pedestrians crossings. In high school now they have a special mandatory course for the students prior to testing for a driver's license.

My grandson in kindergarten had a session with all his class, on a miniature of town roads with signs, crossings, etc.  They had to be with their bikes and follow the rules.  Some were "walking" and had to cross roads after looking left and right, etc.  It was a good experience.  So maybe the next generation will be different.

I am reading the next chapter.  There is lots to ponder about.
I wondered if there were people in that place that were not part of the group, who were more sedate, indifferent to the going on and thus were ignored.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 17, 2017, 05:04:22 PM
'...and in her will she left the Center five hundred dollars because she found the old people so wonderful, so full of life.' p191

I thought of that, Bubble, when I read your comment about the folks at the Center:

'I wondered if there were people in that place that were not part of the group, who were more sedate, indifferent to the going on and thus were ignored.'

Weren't we told early on that the Jewish community in the area was several thousand strong? Of whom just a small number were actively involved in Center politics. The author looked for and found the drama. Apples and dream analyses are so critical in Jewish history. And then she wonders: What would Picasso see in this? Mind boggling.

I had a wonderful experience on the weekend. My two granddaughters took me to Pioneer Village. Just the greatest theme park. One has just started her teaching career and the other is still in college. Perhaps about 25 buildings of 150 years ago brought together to recreate the early days. A town hall, a blacksmith, a farmyard, a church with its manse, etc. And of course a one-room schoolhouse. This was most charming. What fun to sit down at one of the little desks. A 'teacher' was in attendance. I've always wondered what would the teacher see from the front of a class. And here was my opportunity. Accompanied by my grands, I proceeded to the front explaining my intent to the 'teacher'. When my darling granddaughter, the teacher, heard this she, in a flash, did a perfect pupil pose at one of the desks: elbow on desk, head resting on hand, looking intelligent but bored silly...What memories that brought back.

This story just keeps getting more dramatic.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 17, 2017, 05:16:17 PM
Don't we get sentimental about the past as we get older!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 17, 2017, 06:50:23 PM
Oh Jonathan, you sound like you have two very special granddaughters.  Your Pioneer Village sounds like our place called Sauder Village.  I love places like these.  Yes, sentiment sets in as we get older. 

Bubble, I think there were people sedate, and given less attention to.  As you see in the next chapter many new names appear. 

Wait til you sink your teeth into this upcoming chapter.  Meyerhoff has packed it full of her analytical summations.  Phew! 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 17, 2017, 06:56:23 PM
A few studies that I thought might be interesting to know during this transition time:

1). DNA ties Ashkenazi Jews to group of just 330 people from Middle Ages:

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-ashkenazi-jews-dna-diseases-20140909-story.html

2). Jewish DNA Genetic Research and The Origins of the Jewish People:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTyF2V2Hiwo
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 18, 2017, 08:43:27 AM
Yes tomorrow will be something else with our progression to the next chapter, and  I really wonder what you thought of it, we'll find out! (Don't you wish you knew Jacob's real name? I'd like to read his Ten Commandments for Aging). Tease of her not to give them all, since we can't  look him up, or can we? Anyway,  tomorrow it is.

This is the perfect group to read this with. I don't think a lot gets by YOU.  But today I'm off to see Despicable 3, also, Bellamarie,  and I have my grandson tomorrow thru Saturday, but I'll be in each day, I can't miss everybody's  comments on this one!

I also did not like the apple incident, I reread it again for the Nth time and still  her interpretation of the dream does not "click".


No, it doesn't for me, either, Jonathan, and it seems none of us liked the apple bit.  I have trouble remembering the theme of the Apple Incident, that's how little it clicked with me.  I have a feeling that something there crept into the book that turned out a little differently than she hoped. And it seemed to me a lot of the next chapter was an explanation/ rationalization of why it was OK in her eyes, and the placement of it in the book makes me question why,  but I may be crazy, it's hot, it's summer, and there's a lot to read.  And again I have that anathema to Walter Winchell's all knowing voice, but you know what? I thought that when we started the book,  and you all with your insights have accomplished a 360 degree turn for me on the beginning stuff, so I'm hopeful you'll do the same on this one. The Apple Incident however remains somewhat stubbornly entrenched or....not, as the case may be.  Instead of Picasso, I'd like to know what a psychologist thinks of the Apple Incident. 

Bubble, this is wonderful:
My grandson in kindergarten had a session with all his class, on a miniature of town roads with signs, crossings, etc.  They had to be with their bikes and follow the rules.  Some were "walking" and had to cross roads after looking left and right, etc.  It was a good experience.  So maybe the next generation will be different. That's very clever of somebody, isn't it? They will remember this all their lives.

And Jonathan:

I had a wonderful experience on the weekend. My two granddaughters took me to Pioneer Village. Just the greatest theme park. One has just started her teaching career and the other is still in college. Perhaps about 25 buildings of 150 years ago brought together to recreate the early days. A town hall, a blacksmith, a farmyard, a church with its manse, etc. And of course a one-room schoolhouse. This was most charming. What fun to sit down at one of the little desks. A 'teacher' was in attendance. I've always wondered what would the teacher see from the front of a class. And here was my opportunity. Accompanied by my grands, I proceeded to the front explaining my intent to the 'teacher'. When my darling granddaughter, the teacher, heard this she, in a flash, did a perfect pupil pose at one of the desks: elbow on desk, head resting on hand, looking intelligent but bored silly...What memories that brought back.


That is priceless. 

 Jonathan and Bubble:

I thought of that, Bubble, when I read your comment about the folks at the Center:

'I wondered if there were people in that place that were not part of the group, who were more sedate, indifferent to the going on and thus were ignored.'

Weren't we told early on that the Jewish community in the area was several thousand strong? Of whom just a small number were actively involved in Center politics. The author looked for and found the drama.


That's not only a good point it raises several questions. Should a small sample stand for an entire community? When doing anthropological work, should those who want to speak for whatever reason be allowed to speak for all? Is there any danger in that type of sample? But what can you do?  Do the few represent the whole in any group?

And on the drama, I am noticing more and more the placement of incidents and people in the book. It's fascinating, and a VERY GOOD CHOICE, Mr. Jonathan, for a book club read.  I would never ignore any suggestion on that score you ever made. :)

Any last thoughts on anything thus far?

Oh hongfan, I meant to say thank you for those links. I have read that every person in the world today with blue eyes is descended from one ancestor.  I don't know how they know that but they assert it. I am fascinated by those TV commercials with people saying I thought I was Italian, but then I took the XXX test and I found I am actually 78 percent Norwegian and the person is shown with Nordic decorations, and it's changed their lives, the food they eat, etc.   I really think those commercials are nuts.  But I did see one yesterday which changed my mind, the person said I  know it seems  silly but it means something to me to know where I came from, and she put on a hat from a certain region,  and the joy on her face cancelled out any of my  objections.  It's like everything else: you have to walk in that person's shoes before you criticize their choices.


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 18, 2017, 09:02:56 AM
I'm back to ragging on the author - we only have her interpretation based on her reaction to what she sees and hears.

I wonder if she has in her minds eye an ideal and if they are like "rotten, unwanted fruit" that is a judgment based on an ideal of what is not rotten. And so I cannot help wonder again how much of the behavior she documents is made into more of a drama because of her own uncomfort. She has full force placed herself in the middle of a family.

They are not related but for all practical purposes they are a family and just as within families there are those who get along better and those that are polite till something out of the ordinary and all the old wars and resentments take over. I remember even as a child getting on with a couple of my cousins but another we shied away from and were silent around just observing so as not to rattle his cage and another who thought she was so above all of us that when we visited she purposely visited her friends with even her Mom scolding her.

So this 8 year history of bad blood seeing it through the eyes of what happens in a family it is the author spreading gossipy opinion and making it sounds like a 'Night on Bald Mountain'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52iOdAVU4C8
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 18, 2017, 09:47:37 AM
Barb, I loved your comparison! :)
But I do feel the 8y feud is genuine
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 18, 2017, 10:43:52 AM
Jonathan, we too went to Pioneer Village last year in London ONT!  It was experiencing old times...
I am not sure if we are allowed pictures here. Not the school, but the old pump.


https://www.seniorsandfriends.org/gallery/57-180717103737.jpeg (https://www.seniorsandfriends.org/gallery/57-180717103737.jpeg)

hongfan - very interesting links.  I have to  listen to the second one again.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 18, 2017, 10:47:17 AM
Barb
Quote
I remember even as a child getting on with a couple of my cousins but another we shied away from and were silent around just observing so as not to rattle his cage

Oh my heavens, this statement fit perfect with my conversation with my younger sister yesterday, about our older sister.  We all walk on egg shells so as not to set her off.  I think every family has one be it sister, the crazy aunt, grumpy grandfather or flaming cousin. 

I've begun the next chapter, and Barb, I am in agreement with you as far as the author has plopped herself smack dab down into the group, becoming one of them and possibly losing her perspective as the anthropologist.  I have to sadly admit I had an 8 yr. long feud with family members after my mother (last parent) died in 1990.  We all have our own perspective on what happened, who did what, and who hurt whom.  Bottom line, no one but who actually were directly involved, could ever definitively say what was what.  Many heard second hand accounts, those who were closer to me, of course saw my point, those closer to the other sister took her point.  Sadly, it all resulted in a non speaking relationship for far too long.  I am happy to say we are all doing better today, with the exception of the one sister who seems to never want harmony in the family.  The Center people are indeed like a family, good point to make Barb.  As we saw in my situation, as in Anna and Sophia's there were sides taken, and when you have the support of others it makes it easier for you to dig your heels in and stay firm and inflexible.  Maybe in my case and in these two women's case, if someone like Basha could have spoken up and made us realize we need to concentrate on what the common ground is, and go from there, the feuds would have lasted a shorter time.

My two favorite people so far are Shmuel and Basha.  I'll talk more about the whole chapter on Jacob tomorrow, but I'm with Ginny, I sure wish we could have seen all ten of Jacob's Ten Commandments, and could trace back to who he really was.  Lots of thoughts to express on this next chapter.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 18, 2017, 11:50:32 AM
I'm very happy that Jacob was so pleased with himself and managed the numbering of his days so well, stage manageing the last one so magnificently. Thanks, but no thanks, Ginny. I don't want Jacob's Ten Commandments of Aging. It was rumored around later that the Angel of Death asked for and received a furlough after Jacob's passing.

The next chapter is very unusual. Stranger than fiction. All Jacob's  exertions and writings! And then it flashed through my mind. Here is the perfect answer to The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam! Do you all remember that great poem of philosophical resignation?

The world has become so small. Soon each of us will be something of everyone. And no one will look exotic anymore.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 18, 2017, 08:15:07 PM
Soon each of us will be something of everyone. And no one will look exotic anymore.

:) Jonathan. There's a new book out called Caesar's Last Breath: Decoding the  Secrets of the World Around Us. The subject of the book is the following: "We are creatures of light and air. Life’s a gas, in every sense. We are oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, packed together with the carbon that photosynthesising life has plucked, one molecule at a time, from the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. At cremation, our bodies bake down to a handful of minerals. When Hamlet beseeched his too, too solid flesh to melt, thaw and resolve itself into a dew, he got it about right: the Prince of Denmark would have been about 70% water, which is itself an atmospheric vapour. And he certainly could have been blown away."

And "As Kean says, there’s a chance that your last breath contained just the tiniest whiff of the late Harry Truman, just as it quite possibly contains a remnant of the air exhaled by Julius Caesar as he cried “Et tu, Brute,” and expired. The atmosphere is vast, but so is the number of atoms and molecules inhaled with each breath: the number of lungfuls in the air and atoms in each lungful run to the billion trillions and more or less match. So each inhalation is also likely to incorporate the last wheeze of a dying tyrannosaurus 70m years ago; and the breath exhaled by Marc Bolan of T Rex as he sang “Life’s a Gas”, or by Joey Ramone of the Ramones (who wrote a different song of the same title)."

Here's a link to the review in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jul/05/caesars-last-breath-sam-kean-review?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Bookmarks+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=234224&subid=21785342&CMP=bookmarks_collection

Interesting, isn't it?

I agree, Bellamarie, I really would have liked to see his Ten Commandments, I looked under that title and could find only one and I am not sure they are his because they don't echo what's in the book.

Bubble, what a precious picture of the little boy and the pump. Did the pump work or did it have to be primed? We've got one of those in the barn.

Barbara, also is not in sinc with the Apple Incident, for lack of something better to call it. I laughed out loud at your Night on  Bald Mountain, I have not thought of that or heard it in years. Isn't it also in the Disney Cartoon of the little water bearer, the Silly  Symphonies? I enjoyed listening to it again. That was an interesting speculation on how much the author is orchestrating the drama here.

I've gone ahead and  put up the questions for tomorrow (or that is, some of the millions of points in this one..... DREAMS again.....) in the heading and I'll post them below for tomorrow morning so you all can be thinking  about them.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 18, 2017, 08:16:24 PM

Chapter 6: "Teach us to number our days."

 Chapter 6 is a chapter with a BANG!  There's so  much to try to take in it's almost impossible to select one thing.

1.   What stood out the most for you in this chapter? Why?

2. "A lot of people don't realize how we got to look out for ourself in our old age. We think life is only for the children, then we're alone. We got to face the world in a new way.  This means you find your own kind, so you can be comfortable, otherwise you are lost completely. For some people old age is a terrible ordeal because of the loneliness. But if you manage to find yourself you take a big step. You stop thinking about death. When you have every day something to do, you begin to live all over again." (Rachel) Page 196)


There is a lot of wisdom about old age in this chapter.  Which advice seems the best to you? Do you think Rachel is correct?

3. What did you think of the story of  Jacob Koved? There are many pages devoted to Jacob but not very many conversations with the author  quoted. What is the result of this presentation? The author concludes: "Jacob was not only a symbol of and force for continuity, but also he was to Center members a symbol of the possibilities of aging well. Extreme age had not cost Jacob clarity of mind, determination of purpose, or passion in life. All this he maintained with an air of gentleness and dignity. Tolerant and generous, he aroused no envy; Jacob was a symbolic and literal focus of Center culture and of the people's fragile solidarity and continuity."  (Page 206).

Did you wonder why Jacob is a symbol, almost a superhuman symbol,  and Shmuel isn't? Or is Shmuel? Which one do you feel more drawn to? Why?

4.  What did you think of the statement on page 208: "None of them had ever celebrated their birthdays in this fashion. Indeed, it was customary to commemorate the day of one's birth on the closest Jewish holiday, thus submerging private within religious celebrations."

 Have you ever heard of or experienced this custom? Why then has Jacob left money for celebrations for his birthday for the next 5 years?


Those seem enough to start us out, if you don't like any of them, let's talk about what struck YOU?


What do YOU think?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 18, 2017, 10:33:56 PM
Before getting into this next chapter could not let it pass - the book you refer to, Caesar’s Last Breath by Sam Kean sounds like a good one - along those lines I was reading a few weeks ago that we are made of atoms which is essentially another way of saying what Kean is saying - and the shock to me was learning that within each atom are protons that  are older than the universe - talk about a link to before the big bang.

OK with evaluation it is a story that can be understood how our physical being came to be - however, the thing that makes us different than all other species is our ability to create, to think, to learn complex systems - our conscious - there is nothing tangible - aspects of these systems are in the brain but the next big question becomes where or how did we develop our conscious?

That is what I am seeing is the container or source of our humanity and now I wonder what is the history of its development - what happens to it when we die - is all the consciousness of all humanity floating as one of those specs that float in the atmosphere and that we breath?

Does the universe hold all the consciousness but then how does breathing a vaporized consciousness affect or enter our living conscious - so many questions...

Do you also have a list of books to read to understand some of this - From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel C. Dennett  sounds like a winner - have not had time but on my book pile is Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe by Robert Lanza
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 19, 2017, 12:47:22 AM
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.lionsroar.com/christof-koch-unites-buddhist-neuroscience-universal-nature-mind/amp/

Barbara, what you raised is a huge question, Buddhism tends to have rich theories on consciousness or mind. Happened to see the link above, for whatever worth it is.

Also now not universe but multiverse we are pondering, in that case our universe is just a small portion of the whole out there.

I do not know how we human can eventually be able to figure it out. But for sure, keep thinking on it will "expand our frame" and hopefully get us to live to 969 years old.

At LA airport waiting for flight to Boston.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 19, 2017, 04:13:18 AM

Ginny, yes the pump worked, but just a trickle of water ...

Hongfan, your link makes me interested in digging deeper in Buddhism.  I got interested after I met Heinrich Harrer, the Austrian that taught the young Dalai Lama about the West and then helped  in his escape from Tibet. Harrer was giving lectures in Congo about his seven years in Tibet.

To go back to aging, I think that in Tibet and in the Buddhist philosophy, there is more respect for the elderly, more caring.

Ginny I  certainly believe that Rachel is correct in her assessment.  We cannot and do not want to depend on our children.  On the other hand we have to construct our life as as to develop our own interests, furnish our life with daily occupation, hobbies that interest us and keep the mind active.  We also need to keep some contact with surrounding people, possibly of our age range so as not to become totally isolated. Volunteering to different organizations does that.
A personal example: my best friend has been a carer for her mother, then for her dad her whole life.  She never married. When her dad passed away, she had too much free time and realized that unless she organized her days, she would spend them or in bed, or idly watching TV.  Now she spend her Sundays volunteering secretarial work for the English speaking org. that looks after new immigrants from Anglo-saxon countries; Mondays she helps in her local town lending library; Tuesdays she helps me in my French lending Library; Wednesday she goes to an old age home and "visit" two women there who have no visitors though they have children; Thursdays she visits old relatives who are living alone in other towns; Friday- the activity she loves best, she visit and play with children from the third world who come to Israel for open heart surgery ( Look for Save a Child's Heart).  She buys them treats, prepares fun activities for them and they all love her.  They are usually here for a month or two.
Shabbath is for herself.

I never heard of celebrating a birthday the closest to a Jewish holiday, but it is customary in such circles to group together all the birthdays for a specific month.  That is what we do in our Wizo Organization. Then it is a big party for all and every participant makes in turn a wish for the birthday members.
I am sure Jacob knew how much those parties meant to the community there and also he wanted to remain alive in their memory.  That is very important.  There is a belief  that as long as you remain present in the memory of people, you are not totally dead. That is why, I believe, it is important to celebrate properly the date of passing.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 19, 2017, 09:45:43 AM
Before getting caught up in Jacob's story in this chapter I especially like the first few pages as they all were discussing aging and how they all have their own personal point of view on how to survive and be happy in old age.  Here are some things that jumped out at me:

1. Gita, Be prepared.  Gita made her own arrangements for her death.  pg. 195  A couple of weeks ago she made her own arrangements.  She gave Abe her blue dress, the one for dancing with the silver braid, and along with this some money, so Abe could make sure she had a nice funeral, with a bus to take people to the cemetery, and refreshments.

2.  Nathan, Continuity.  If your children do not chose to follow your religion, find some that will or at least continue it without them. pg. 195  "When my father saw how it was going with us, his children all unbelievers, he adopted his nephews."

3.  Basha, Don't depend on your children.  pg. 196 "We gotta make our own life, from the inside to the outside.  In this time if you don't concentrate on what you got left, you sink under."

4.  Rachel, Look out for ourselves. pg. 196 "We think life is only for the children, then we're alone.  We got to face the world in a new way. 
     Find yourself.  "Find your own kind, so you can be comfortable."
     Have something to do everyday.

5.  Olga, Keep moving.  Don't let yourself be stagnant.  pg. 196"You got to keep a breath of air in your mind, keeping new ideas circulating or you could suffocate."

6.  Sonya, Seek education.  Find groups, and classes to go to like at their Center. pg. 196 "I find a lot of life in here at the Center.  I seek education, any little thing I can learn, to me is a treasure."

7. Leah, pg. 196 Don't let yourself get depressed in old age.  Don't isolate yourself. "So I got up  and got dressed.  I said, I must go out into the fold again between my people."

8.  HeschelDeal with the pain. pg. 197 "Pain is the avenue to getting a soul, getting quality from yourself.  This is how you get a life that's really on the essence.  You got to go about pain the right way.  You couldn't escape it, so you go into it." 
     Talk about pain.  "When I start to talk about pain it leaves me."  "So when the pain comes, I am patient.  I shut up, active silence; I bear it, wait, even overnight, but I mean I bear it.
     Don't take tranquilizers, sleeping pills, alcohol or ignore it with television or other distractions. 
     Stand before the pain.  Call it out. "After you go through this you discover you got choices.  You become whole.  This is the task of our life.  I want to live this kind of life, so I can be alive every minute.  I want to know when I'm awake, I'm altogether awake.  When I'm asleep, I'm asleep."  "One of our prophets said, "In quiet confidence, shall lie your strength."  In this way you can make of suffering positive, because it's a part of human life."

9.  JakeSuffering  pg. 198 "Suffering gives you purpose, the purpose to get free of it."

10. HeschelCourage, knowledge, wisdom, and self worth.  pg. 198 "In old age, we got a chance to find out what a human being is, how we could be worthy of being human.  You could find your courage, and know you are vital.  Then you're living on a different plane.  To do this you got to use your brain, but that's not enough.  The brain is combined with the soul.  Do you know what I am talking about?  I don't think you could get to this understanding  too young, but when you get to it, then you couldn't go before your time, because you are ready.

I would like to print these out and tape to my refrigerator, to remind me daily of what I would call the:
 Ten Commandments of Aging.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 19, 2017, 10:00:59 AM
When I think of Rachel's statement of not depending on our children into our old age, I have to say I am guilty of this, and need to work on it.  Since my grandchildren are all now school age and I no longer daycare them, I have found myself feeling a little lonely, depressed and not needed.  I still have my two, Zak 9 yrs. old and Zoey 6 yrs.s old to come during the summer two or three days a week and they still love to have sleepovers, but last week when they were on vacation and we did not have them my hubby and I began feeling a bit down.  Our children and grandchildren have been my purpose in life since the day I gave birth to my first child.  Since my oldest moved out of state when she turned twenty-one wanting to be independent, I did cling a little more to my two sons.  After reading this book and listing the "Ten Commandments of Aging" I just posted, I do realize I have some work to do.  Since I retired I did get involved in volunteer work, teaching religious classes, joining a Bible Study group, and am more active with family & friends my age.  My hubby and I have taken on projects around our house to keep us busy and excited to update things, but you can only do so much at a time due to expenses.  I am not a traveler, so I suppose this is something I could also try to work on, I have family and friends we could travel to see that would not be too costly.  I just don't want to dip into our savings because you never know what could arise.  I know others say don't hoard your money only for it to go to your kids after you are gone, live for today.......  I'm not there yet.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 19, 2017, 10:13:15 AM
Post later but wanted to share this - you may have to be registered to facebook in order to see it - her selection of clothing is all her however, her wisdom is spot on.

https://www.facebook.com/thisisinsiderstyle/videos/255043514952215/
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 19, 2017, 11:09:55 AM
I posted an untruth and now I'm suffering. I failed the Basha test this morning (see page 1) and will be unable to make it to the ocean and the bench. May each breath give you all new life and vigor. And wisdom.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 19, 2017, 11:11:26 AM
Barb,  I like this lady's thinking.  Good for her!

Jonathan,  I hope  you are feeling well today.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 19, 2017, 11:23:53 AM
Someone in the book mentioned that the pain makes you aware that you are alive and empowers you with new strength, or so I understood it anyway and I do believe it is true.
Jonathan, conquer that suffering and come back renewed :)

Barb,  she is great, but she is not old, she is only 61... So why could she not dress herself like that?
At least she is not ridiculous like some old, overweight women who try to fit into skinny pants and two sizes too small tops. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 19, 2017, 11:31:13 AM
Bellamarie, I like your list of 10, my favorite is #8 from Heschel. I think #10 is related to and an extension of #8? Also, to keep yourself busy - take a language class will keep you very busy,  for instance, Ginny's Latin class? or Greek  class? Many people went to learn Classic Greek because they want to read New Testament in its original text. 

Bubble: have you read the book or seen the movie "7 years in Tibet"? I haven't and wonder how good it is.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 19, 2017, 11:51:04 AM
Bubble: have you read the book or seen the movie "7 years in Tibet"? I haven't and wonder how good it is.

Yes I have read the book in '54 I think, and then again about 10 years ago when the Dalai was much in the news.  Quite a good book.  Amazing how Tibet was so cut off from modern life. Even getting reading glasses for the young Dalai was an innovation.  Harrer too has a lot of charisma while telling about his adventures hiking in those mountains during the war.
I did not see the movie but Harrer had  films he showed in his talk.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 19, 2017, 04:29:15 PM
hongfan, I like #8 as well. 

I gave this a lot of thought,  Don't take tranquilizers, sleeping pills, alcohol or ignore it with television or other distractions.

I wonder what you all think about this? 

I have watched people who lost a loved one, numb themselves at the hospital and funeral with some form of pills.  My daughter in law had a doctor prescribe something for her mother when her father was dying.  She stayed on the pills a few weeks after the funeral.  I noticed when I was around her she was not emotionally feeling her loss on a conscious level, due to the pills.  When he was actually dying she had members of her congregation in front her talking with her, so much so that my daughter in law and myself watched him take his last breath, while she was busy being distracted with these members.  We tried to get her attention to let her know she needed to come to his bedside, but these distractions kept her from realizing what we were saying.  This made me question whether it is a good idea to have so many people in the room, and to take pills, or any other kind of substances to numb your pain to get you through times like this.  As difficult as it is to lose a loved one, the pain you experience does indeed signify the love you have for this person. 

Bubble
Quote
pain makes you aware that you are alive and empowers you with new strength

I agree, even though we must go through the pain, we do come out with more knowledge and strength.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 19, 2017, 10:07:46 PM
Am in the midst of one of our 4 day Jammie Partys, but I do want to say I've been reading your very thoughtful posts and am really impressed.

Barbara: Do you also have a list of books to read to understand some of this - From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel C. Dennett  sounds like a winner - have not had time but on my book pile is Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe by Robert Lanza

No I don't, that's in intriguing concept tho, it really is, and I appreciate this list.

Hongfan,

I do not know how we human can eventually be able to figure it out. But for sure, keep thinking on it will "expand our frame" and hopefully get us to live to 969 years old.


I just read somewhere that man has now reached the limit of the  most he will ever live. I don't know where I saw that but since I haunt the BBC and WSJ I have a feeling it was in one of them. Length of life is actually decreasing in some areas.

Jonathan, I posted an untruth and now I'm suffering. I failed the Basha test this morning (see page 1) and will be unable to make it to the ocean and the bench. May each breath give you all new life and vigor. And wisdom.

Well  now we're worried about you! Please get some rest and relaxation and hopefully you will be doing that centenarian's 100 meter dash in no time!

Barbara and Bubble, yes that ladyh in the linmk has good bones. However I was startled to see she's only 61, I thought she was that 100 year old that models. She looks good, whatever her age.

This is my idol as far as appearance goes. ONLY as far as appearance. This is "Patsy  Stone," a character invented by Jennifer Saunders for her Absolutely Fabulous show. She is played by Joanna Lumley who is 71.  "Patsy" always  looks like a fashion model, the show is a gross sometimes (I love it) send  up of the fashion industry and here are some shots of the latest movie:

(https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/79/fa/8a/79fa8a98229b4fb2bf87e246fc3f2917--cheer-abs-patsy-stone.jpg)

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/fashion/2016/06/20/ab_fab_2016-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqrS8Z1b0ZQjNoViJZ3HnGQ7_DoFhITEvkIGw3fhSRNRw.jpg)


(http://cdn1.thr.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/landscape_928x523/2016/03/ab_fab_still_0.jpg)

(http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/custom/Arlene/Ab_Fab_3_embed.jpg)

I wish. :)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 19, 2017, 10:22:13 PM
3. What did you think of the story of  Jacob Koved? There are many pages devoted to Jacob but not very many conversations with the author  quoted. What is the result of this presentation? The author concludes: "Jacob was not only a symbol of and force for continuity, but also he was to Center members a symbol of the possibilities of aging well. Extreme age had not cost Jacob clarity of mind, determination of purpose, or passion in life. All this he maintained with an air of gentleness and dignity. Tolerant and generous, he aroused no envy; Jacob was a symbolic and literal focus of Center culture and of the people's fragile solidarity and continuity."  (Page 206).

The author has a lengthy analysis on Jacob Koved, attempting to create some recipe for aging well, and through this she introduced a lot of complex concepts including Jacob's autobiography and writing as myth-making, etc. I don't know if I would buy all of those, to me it sounds that she was kind of stretching in order to have some theories. It reminds me that in physics, the great physicists (Einstein and like) believed that the nature's power is in its simplicity, if you can find multiple equations to explain one phenomenon, go for the simplest one. Maybe in anthropology, it is operating under the opposite principle - the more complex the better?

To me, Jacob is quite different from the rest of the Center people, he was universally liked (while the others were habitually critical to each other), he had great respects from his children (while the others agonized over the lack of that). And particularly on the latter one, it made me wonder why is so?

To me, he seems a person that habitually put himself behind others - when his mother had to move to Odessa and could only bring some of the children with her, Jacob left behind and made a living for him and his sister by teaching; when he and Rivke got married, they got married on her term - move to America, and he did; when Rivke's brother became ill and moved to California, he followed with Rivke to move to California; there are many other examples as such, he and Rivke saved pennies to buy tickets for their relatives to come to America; Jacob's all-life work with Union to improve conditions of others; and his generosity to the Center and his people is just one another example of such.

This reminds me a paragraph in Lao Zi's Dao De Jing (or Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching by old style latinized spelling) - Chapter 7:

Heaven is eternal and Earth everlasting.
They can be eternal and everlasting
because they do not exist for themselves.
And for this reason can exist forever.

Therefore the sage places himself in the background
but finds himself in the foreground.
He puts himself away, and yet he always remains.
Is it not because he has no personal interests?
This is the reason why his personal interests are fulfilled.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 19, 2017, 10:25:16 PM
  Bubble, I am sure Jacob knew how much those parties meant to the community there and also he wanted to remain alive in their memory.  That is very important.  There is a belief  that as long as you remain present in the memory of people, you are not totally dead. That is why, I believe, it is important to celebrate properly the date of passing.

THAT is a very super attitude about it.


Bellamarie! I can't get over what you did with those Ten Commandments of Aging, winnowing out the quotes, that is absolutely wonderful! I have copied that out, just as you wrote it and posted it here next to the desk. Wonderful! Thank you so much!

This one:
I gave this a lot of thought,  Don't take tranquilizers, sleeping pills, alcohol or ignore it with television or other distractions.

I WAS a little startled at the sleeping pills. I have taken one Benedryl at night for years. YEARS. (Don't start it, it causes Dementia). I do have to sleep. I think a good night's sleep is very important. They've just done a study of people's abilities to think with 2 and then 4 hours of sleep and it was astounding, you NEED sleep.

 Gosh that was some story about the people in the room in the hospital with the patient passing away. I don't know what to say about that  one. Hopefully the patient was comforted by their presence, anyway.

Back tomorrow, which of  Bellamarie's 10 Commandments do you think is the most important of all?  I just can't get OVER them.

Bubble your friend has plunged herself into many good works, I hope they are wonderfully fulfilling to her, and how could they not be.  She's a wonderful example of engaged ageing.

Am I the only one who feels that the story of Jacob was a little flat? I am trying to figure out why. Certainly he is an extremely impressive person, but somehow he's made into...the contrast is quite striking, to me, but I may have read it with too much haste. I liked Bubble's take on him, what do you all think?



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 19, 2017, 10:28:56 PM
Hongfan, we were posting together, but everything you've said here rings a bell with me. What do you all think of these statements?


"The author has a lengthy analysis on Jacob Koved, attempting to create some recipe for aging well, and through this she introduced a lot of complex concepts including Jacob's autobiography and writing as myth-making, etc. I don't know if I would buy all of those, to me it sounds that she was kind of stretching in order to have some theories."


I wonder, too. There does seem to be something there, but I can't put my finger on it.

 "It reminds me that in physics, the great physicists (Einstein and like) believed that the nature's power is in its simplicity, if you can find multiple equations to explain one phenomenon, go for the simplest one."

 Maybe in anthropology, it is operating under the opposite principle - the more complex the better?

What do you all think of that one!!??

To me, Jacob is quite different from the rest of the Center people, he was universally liked (while the others were habitually critical to each other), he had great respects from his children (while the others agonized over the lack of that). And particularly on the latter one, it made me wonder why is so?

What an excellent question! What do you all think?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 19, 2017, 10:33:15 PM
I have no idols.  I have come to the conclusion that with as much make-up, face lifts, botox, tummy tucks, lipo, hair extensions, spandex, personal trainers and cooks, etc., etc., and the money it costs to keep up with all this, I refuse to idolized anyone because it's so fake.  I love looking at a woman who has aged gracefully and is very comfortable with her wrinkles, her muffin top, her age spots, thinning hair and not so perfect complexion.  Anyone can look as great, and be as active, as these women, if you have enough money.

Jonathan, please get some rest, and stop in to let us know you are okay. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 19, 2017, 10:42:00 PM
;O) Can't resist these words from Joanna Lumley at 68, when she was planning her own funeral.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/joanna-lumley-is-already-organising-her-funeral-9768097.html


"The actress was inspired to start thinking about what to take with her after visiting the Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo.

"When I was out in Sarawak staying in a long house, one of the old grannies died, and she was buried in lovely bamboo-y leaves, and inside they put a bit of food, money for the journey, cigarettes because I think old granny smoked a bit," she told Saga magazine.

"I’m going to have some books, some I haven’t finished or haven’t read, some feathers and nice bits and pieces, the odd note. Just on the journey for the next bit."

She thinks it’s important to think about such provisions before she is "too gaga" to do so.

"Look, when you’re young you think life is forever, but it’s finite," she said. "I’m 68, so even by the maddest measurements, I’m in the last bit of life.

"All the trouble you will cause by not leaving a will. All the heartache!

"Family feuds are going to happen anyway, so be as clear as you can. And even if it’s only to leave it to the cat’s home, make a will."

But far from being morbid about the idea of death, Lumley approaches the subject with a hearty dose of realism

"Learn from nature. Stuff lives and stuff dies all the time, you know," she said.

"Animals and birds and flowers. Trees come and go, and we come and go. That’s it. So we should all seize life and make the most of what we have, while we can.

"You can’t just expect life to do it for you. You have to do life. You’ve just got to keep doing it up till the last minute."
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 19, 2017, 11:02:10 PM
I just read somewhere that man has now reached the limit of the  most he will ever live.

Ginny, that might be right, IF our society, as a whole, doesn't change.

I like to think each of us as a single cell of the body (the collective life, the nature and all its bearing). For a healthy body, each cell has to do its work, perform its function, all in the best interest of the whole body.

Now what will happen if one day, some cells wake up saying to themselves - I want suck all the nutrition, I want to multiply myself, again and again and again - well those cells become cancer cells, these cancer cells suck most of the nutritions from their surrounding environment and suffocate normal cells. And when these cancer cells spread over, the body gets cancer and dies sooner.

Our society right now is a bit like that, in analogy a cancerous society, the capitalism is a oncogene that turns normal cells into cancel cells, greed is good, don't they say? Why do we have so many cancers now? is it just a coincident? May be the ultimate treatment for cancer is not lying in medicine, but lying in our soul?

The cancer cell never INTENDED to kill the body (because it relies on the body to survive) but with its selfish actions, it DID kill the body and as a result killed itself. We human never intended to kill nature and all its bearing, did we? But aren't we are killing it and with it killing ourselves?

Can this be changed? Can we wipe out the cancer cells and get the body healthy again? I guess so, we have been on a decaying curve, and when it gets to the bottom, the force will swing back. How? I don't know, has to be another deluge? I don't know, hopefully not, hopefully there will be a better way to do it.

I like a scene in the 2008 version of The Day The Earth Stood Still - the scientist said to the alien (played by Keanu Reeves): "We CAN change, give us a chance."
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 20, 2017, 12:12:46 AM
hongfan, You are so correct in saying,
Quote
" IF our society, as a whole, doesn't change."


I think as a society, we have hit our lowest of lows.  When killing innocent unborn babies is okay, then sell off their organs for profit, and when as a society we are not willing to accept the will of the people's vote for a presidency, instead malign, disrespect and impede his every move, when the media has become the mouthpiece of lies and hatred, refusing to report as journalists were taught with no bias, and when government can use taxpayer money to fund  abortions, while watching our veterans sleep on the streets, when government can steal from the elderly by miss allocating their social security benefits they paid into all their years of working, when we are willing to make it a federal law to protect mallard duck eggs, yet allow the killing of a fetus inside a womb, when we attempt to take away the religious liberties of those who chose to believe in God, I would say we have hit rock bottom.  For every argument someone has for all these egregious acts, there are just as many against them. As a society, we have lost what being a human being is, and are not worthy of being a human being, when we devalue life.  Heschel said it best,  "In old age, we got a chance to find out what a human being is, how we could be worthy of being human."

Indeed we need to change, because we have become a cancerous society that needs immediate  healing and a cure.  I pray you are right hongfan when you say, 
Quote
"and when it gets to the bottom, the force will swing back."
  We are there now..... let the pendulum begin to swing back anytime.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 20, 2017, 02:38:52 AM
If Jacob was Christian he would be canonized as St. Jacob - he is described with all the support one could receive and with a Gandhi like concern for others - a figure the others could not live up to if they tried - nice story but I just saw the inclusion of the story as the author showing what an ideal apple looks like that is not rotten - sad...

As to all the advise - seems that anyone who lives past 80 is filled with opinions how it happens - many want some philosophical answer but I think, like soldiers in battle wonder, why did I beat the odds? My guess is that is the same roll of the dice for aging - successful aging is simply continuing a successful life - we each have our measure -

There is a saying something about it takes courage to be old and I've also heard, being old is not for sissies - true - but then if you see change as an adventure you've got it made. There are hermits who live past 100 just as there are those who surround themselves with human contact live to be 100 - there are those who in their younger years experienced trauma, unhappiness, disappointment and all manner of experiences that stopped some in their tracts - in response some turn to drink or drugs etc. and so, to me it is no different if you are 30 - 60 or 90 - we all have challenges and we all have our way of handling or not, those challengers.

I do not think there is a separate category with special behavior needs unless you decide you deserve some special care because of advanced and accumulated years. You can get arthritis at 30 just as you can at 60 or 90 - you can be tired because the body is not working tip top at 40 just as you can at 80. Sure there will be grater odds and more folks in their advanced years experiencing failings of the body along with the many losses like losing friends and neighborhood landmarks change along with what we value may change as well as, our financial circumstances - but then, the young loose their jobs or eat the wrong food and gain too much weight to enjoy activities practiced a few years earlier or they are divorced or their friends move away - however, it is just a given that after a certain age everything you knew dramatically changes - Things you saved money for years to own no longer have value since lifestyles change - All that lovely silver and china, no one does a 4 or 5 course dinner any longer - No one even knows how to repair a lace insert on a linen table cloth any longer much less, knows how to make from scratch gelatin, ham hocks, sauerbraten or their own noodles - life's change is either an adventure or a loss of comfort and security or maybe a little of both. 

Ha never thought but yes, aging after 75 is like walking through a war zone - losses to the left and losses to the right but onward we go paring down our physical, emotional, spiritual essentials as our pack feels heavier. Goodness even truth changes.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 20, 2017, 09:41:44 AM
hongfan
Quote
The author has a lengthy analysis on Jacob Koved, attempting to create some recipe for aging well, and through this she introduced a lot of complex concepts including Jacob's autobiography and writing as myth-making, etc. I don't know if I would buy all of those, to me it sounds that she was kind of stretching in order to have some theories. It reminds me that in physics, the great physicists (Einstein and like) believed that the nature's power is in its simplicity, if you can find multiple equations to explain one phenomenon, go for the simplest one. Maybe in anthropology, it is operating under the opposite principle - the more complex the better?

Ginny,
Quote
Am I the only one who feels that the story of Jacob was a little flat? I am trying to figure out why. Certainly he is an extremely impressive person, but somehow he's made into...the contrast is quite striking, to me, but I may have read it with too much haste.

Barb
Quote
If Jacob was Christian he would be canonized as St. Jacob - he is described with all the support one could receive and with a Gandhi like concern for others - a figure the others could not live up to if they tried - nice story but I just saw the inclusion of the story as the author showing what an ideal apple looks like that is not rotten - sad...

I have not yet been able to tackle and piece together my thoughts on Jacob's whole story.  Ginny, I am so glad to see I am not alone in how I feel about Jacob's story.  I do know that if I didn't know for certain he was a real person, and all that she wrote actually happened, I would have seen this as a very well made up story.  I just can't put my finger on why it does not ring true to me.  I'm not disputing the validity of it, I am just not responding to it as real.  I've purposely not addressed his story in this chapter because I find myself struggling with it.  I'll give it a lot more thought, and go over it once again to see if I can put my finger on why it did not ring true to me.  Barb is seeing Jacob a saint, had he been a Christian.  That was quite a label to place on him, yet I am not sure if that even gives me more clarity, or troubles me even more so.  Hongfan questioning,  "the more complex the better?" I feel it was so complex, I had to put the book down several times to complete the chapter, because it was so complex for me.  I need more time to see where all these pieces fall into place for me. 

Ginny, Yes, all those people in the room distracting Sandy was so overwhelming to me.  It took away from what she should have been focusing on........... her dying husband.  Once he was gone and she realized she lost those last seconds, missed his last breaths he took, she came running to the bed.  This still bothers me today experiencing what happened in that hospice room.  Then I believe due to the medication she was under, she decided to leave and go home before they even came to take his body to the cremation place.  My husband, her adopted daughter, and myself stayed and walked alongside him being wheeled out.  He and my hubby were veterans and they always talked of their service time over the years.  He was Jehovah Witness in his last couple of years, so before they wheeled him out, hospice asked if they could place the American flag over him.  I had no idea JW's did not honor the dead who served their country in such a way, so I turned to the adopted daughter and asked what should we do?  She asked me, because she didn't know.  My hubby and I made the decision to allow them to place the flag over him, so he was taken out in the honor of a veteran with my hubby saluting him as they wheeled him past us.  I think Walt would have wanted it this way.  I later told my daughter in law/his daughter what happened and she said that is fine.  We chose not to tell Sandy his wife, we just was not sure how she would feel since she was JW.  One less thing to not upset her with is what we all agreed on.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 20, 2017, 10:14:24 AM
egregious acts

Isn't "egregious" from the Latin word "egregius"?

How has it changed from meaning remarkably good to remarkably bad?

hahahaa, talked about changes along the way, Barbara.

Goodness even truth changes

What is truth?

The Greeks noticed, to the jaundiced the honey tastes bitter while to others it tastes sweet, then what is the "true" taste of honey? Is truth the vote of the majority? If it is not, what is it?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 20, 2017, 12:50:52 PM
Please consider - if your plan includes cremation please look into Lifelegacy or another similar group - you donate your body and if nothing else - no matter how old and wrinkly, your skin has such value to new born and young children burn victims - they must have several applications of skin til the final take and their little bodies do not have enough skin to take for grafts -

Your caretaker must arrange quickly, hopefully within an hour to ice you down and send your body - you can only make the arrangements through a local funeral home since the big national funeral homes will not handle the request - your body is air-shipped to Arizona where they harvest anything useful with skin being the most valuable - there is no cost and they cremate the remains sending back to the family the ashes - my best friend and her husband whose remains are at Arlington Cemetery used Lifelegacy Foundation - nonprofit in operation since 1997 inspected and licensed - adheres to FDA Good Tissue Practices and is a qualified Organ Procurement Agency under Arizona Anatomical Gift Act - Toll Free 888-774-4438
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 20, 2017, 02:04:42 PM
My earlier post was after I only finished up to the end of the description of Jacob's death - finished the chapter this morning waiting for my ride after leaving my vehicle for repairs - Do not remember for years and years shaking my head visibly while reading as I did agreeing with everything said by Shmuel...

Then with my heckles raised I questions by whose measurement do we use to judge success in death or life? But what really got to me and maybe it is true which would explain much to me that folks are seeking order from chaos - shoot if you want order where is there order - it all seems to be an accident of chance - to me, the explanation of the Chaos theory is the perfect explanation for life.

 How many of us thought when we were young that any of our experiences would be as our life unfolded - if this need for order is the prism used to measure, no wonder systems like the workings of Congress appear to be off the rails - life and most systems are not the organization of the law as administered by the Supreme Court therefore, I have a difficult time using lists as a behavior guide - in chaos all you can do is handle what is presented.

I like the explanation often used that life is a river - As we float down the river of life we hit rapids and waterfalls along the way - Only in his isolation of hiding from the Nazis in France did Mandelbrot put together the Fractal Geometry required toward the history of chaos, instability, the strange attractor, phase transition, and deep chaos. 

Until Mandelbrot, the English budget for coastal maintenance was off whack because a measurement of the coastal shore was so inaccurate - after using Mandelbrot's geometry the budget had to be more than doubled to adequately do the job.

But more - just like a wooden raft or canoe taking the water falls - they break up and some slats of wood go flying through the air as projectiles and other bits are churned over and over reaching the depths of the river bottom several times and then some of the chewed up pieces float down stream and others find their way to shore or are tumped behind a few boulders into a still pond - on and on the bits and pieces are torn and continue their journey as bits and pieces with maybe a chunk floating as the last remnant of what was. Sure a rubber raft usually falls without breakup but passengers are tumped into the churning water falls.

Jacob successfully took what was left of himself after his water falls experiences as did all of those at the Center with varying numbers and heights of their water falls experience  - The saying is, adversity makes you strong and so it appears these folks showed their strength - However, I'm scratching my head wondering how anyone can prepare to navigate successfully a water falls - do not think it can be done - all you can do is use your learned and innate skills to save yourself - even in a rubber raft, passengers are upended and tumped overboard - some drown and others are washed up on shore and still others are lucky to be banged into a rock they can hang onto till someone can rescue them. 

Jacob had folks rescuing him through out his life as he returned the goodness to others by rescuing others - if there is any value in the story of Jacob, that to me is the value to hold onto during our aging rather than, attempting to control our life so that we do not experience the problems associated with aging. Problems will sneak up on us just as we are sucked into the swift flow, dragging anything on the river towards the water falls - There is no order to a river much less to a waterfalls - the order is chaos and now we can even mathematically measure the chaos but we cannot eliminate chaos.   

Even her quoting Susanne K. Langer suggesting our sacred symbols are for the purpose of coherence and continuity versus being vulnerable and disoriented - cannot buy it - if writing our bio is to develop coherence then phewy - we are vulnerable, so accept it and yes, at times we become disoriented and use a support to temporarily orient ourselves - but the only coherence I can see is to practice and depend upon things like courage, self-preservation, adventure... continuity is not in our hands... even the birth of children does not guarantee the future of our genes much less the continuation of a way of life - there is just no insurance policy for the future - scary or again, the word I use over and over is life is an adventure as I bet death is an adventure since we have no clue what happens next. 

As to the symbols and rituals - to me they are feel good experiences and for me a church ritual, with all the symbols was beautiful and created a wonder beyond the ordinary and actually allowed me to see myself as vulnerable but, I sure did not see these rituals as relating me to life around me. With all the church changes, they sure did not represent continuity - I remember learning as a child that the church I attend was One, Holy, Apostolic Church and all ceremony was the same regardless where I attended mass - ha huge difference according to the dioceses you live in - celebrating mass, the prayers and hymns - how communion is distributed - the emphasis or not, on Mary or the Stations of the Cross are very different in Kentucky versus, here in Austin as they are in other places within the states I've lived including how Mass is celebrated in the various European churches. From reading the story it sounds as though the traditions in the Center were not the same as those in their European hometowns much less, carried out by some of their children. So symbolism to celebrate continuity - just do not see it...

To me continuity is freezing and recovering the past therefore, limiting growth - if we cannot grow spiritually than how does humanity become more humane - if our body grows and changes then so would our emotions and spirituality in spite of ourselves if we let in the air.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 20, 2017, 04:01:59 PM
I seem to have offended the powers that be and so I will humbly take the consequences. I woke up feeling better and ready to run several errands, only to find a flat tire on my car. At the tire shop I was told they could see no reason why the tire had lost its air. But I know. It comes from feeling sorry for the Malakh-hamoves, the Angel of Death.

At 95, Jacob was too successful at aging well. He refused to die. Aleph people want to go on forever. And after that be remembered. Throw parties for another five years. Of course he was well-liked. But what a difficult time for the Angel. Was it too much to imagine the trying time it was for the Angel before finally getting Jacob to the other side. Wouldn't He want to take a break? The suggestion however might imply that He would not be available for others needing his assistance.

Oy, Vey!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 20, 2017, 08:18:03 PM
Jonathan I am so very happy to see you are feeling better, and being humorous with your flat tire incident.  So sorry your day started off at the repair shop.  I do hope it got better once it was fixed. 

The Angel of Death reminded me of the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, a lurking spirit ready to come to snatch you up.  Gives me chills just thinking of it.   While reading the nearing of Jacob's death I half expected the vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) to appear.  I don't mean to make fun of this story, but I really am having a very difficult time in believing this author's whole interpretation here.  This is where needing some verification would come in handy for the doubting Thomas I am. 
 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 20, 2017, 09:52:47 PM
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/NumberourDayscover.jpg)


They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it on subjects in the USA, and let them speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us! 

Questions to Ponder on  Chapter 4

Chapter 6: "Teach us to number our days."

 Chapter 6 is a chapter with a BANG!  There's so  much to try to take in it's almost impossible to select one thing.

1.   What stood out the most for you in this chapter? Why?

2. "A lot of people don't realize how we got to look out for ourself in our old age. We think life is only for the children, then we're alone. We got to face the world in a new way.  This means you find your own kind, so you can be comfortable, otherwise you are lost completely. For some people old age is a terrible ordeal because of the loneliness. But if you manage to find yourself you take a big step. You stop thinking about death. When you have every day something to do, you begin to live all over again." (Rachel) Page 196)


There is a lot of wisdom about old age in this chapter.  Which advice seems the best to you? Do you think Rachel is correct?

3. What did you think of the story of  Jacob Koved? There are many pages devoted to Jacob but not very many conversations with the author  quoted. What is the result of this presentation? The author concludes: "Jacob was not only a symbol of and force for continuity, but also he was to Center members a symbol of the possibilities of aging well. Extreme age had not cost Jacob clarity of mind, determination of purpose, or passion in life. All this he maintained with an air of gentleness and dignity. Tolerant and generous, he aroused no envy; Jacob was a symbolic and literal focus of Center culture and of the people's fragile solidarity and continuity."  (Page 206).

Did you wonder why Jacob is a symbol, almost a superhuman symbol,  and Shmuel isn't? Or is Shmuel? Which one do you feel more drawn to? Why?

4.  What did you think of the statement on page 208: "None of them had ever celebrated their birthdays in this fashion. Indeed, it was customary to commemorate the day of one's birth on the closest Jewish holiday, thus submerging private within religious celebrations."

 Have you ever heard of or experienced this custom? Why then has Jacob left money for celebrations for his birthday for the next 5 years?


Those seem enough to start us out, if you don't like any of them, let's talk about what struck YOU?


What do YOU think?


 

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 20, 2017, 09:55:58 PM
Jonathan, how good to see you back. I am glad you felt well enough to do some errands. Perhaps you were meant (by the flat tire) to stay home a little bit more and rest. :) I'm glad you feel better.


In reviewing the story of Jacob, it occurred to me driving back from Greenville today that not one time has the author ever had a conversation with him. She is relying on his biographical material, or an interview he gave to his son and granddaughter (good for him) for the information. Therefore the approach to Jacob in a book full of dialogue and quotes is different. He's all in 3rd person, he's a symbol more than  he is a person,  really, and he's sort of canonized, which is fine.  Even his dying speech which cost him so much to say is summarized.  So different from Shmuel's treatment.

 In reading these paragraphs which are not divided much by white space or dialogue, the tone is different. I've been thinking about this detached treatment by the author and have decided, for my part, that Jacob's story was too good not to  use, his death most dramatic and meaningful for the elders, but somehow in the handling it became a little heavy handed in the telling, not in anything about his life.  That's all I can figure out about the shift in tone in the book...he's held at arm's length and I don't know why, you've all had some really good suggestions,  but we're constantly assured of his goodness which I don't doubt for  a  minute. I just  wish he had been able to dialogue with her and fit in a little better.

Any idea about why Jacob's story did not start the book? Have you been wondering about the order the book stories are presented in?

Bellamarie, I have to say that I think a "muffin top" is less an accoutrement of age than it is the result of overeating and lack of exercise at any age,   not necessarily something that has to be accepted.  :)


 I personally think the Holocaust was as low as humanity can go.

I did not know what a JW was but today's Dear  Abby explained it. I think people of all religious beliefs grieve differently as people, and that's probably what caused some of the things she did which seemed strange to you on the death of her husband. That was a lovely gesture by your husband.

In a free country people are entitled to say what they like about elected officials, whether it suits everybody  or not, and it's always been that way. But I do agree it's a lot less civil than it used to be or  more overt or something. Or maybe we're just  hearing more about it than we used to. I think it's time for our  leadership  to show us  the way to civil discourse by their own behavior so that it can be returned.

But this upsetting bunch of news is  why I don't watch the news, I read the BBC App where I can pick from hundreds of stories in print and in video if I want it, to see which  we probably will never see on our Evening News  because, even tho they have all those hundreds of news stories,  it would take a lot more than 1/2 hour to tell them. They have to choose what they think is most important.  But those little stories  are interesting,  and give, I think (at least the ones I read) some assurance for humanity after all.

It's interesting, actually that all  our talk here of Tibet is what made me think of Joanna Lumley in the first place, she's quite an activist, especially in that area. Another person from the show is 91  year old June Whitfield, isn't she gorgeous? (https://i.ytimg.com/vi/weExrDs56uQ/maxresdefault.jpg) Sharp as a tack too.

Hongfan,  Why do we have so many cancers now? I personally think it's because we're poisoning ourselves and our environment.  Everything we eat is contaminated in one or the other ways with chemicals. Don't get me started on chemicals. hahaha It is REALLY hard to avoid them.


To me, he seems a person that habitually put himself behind others - when his mother had to move to Odessa and could only bring some of the children with her, Jacob left behind and made a living for him and his sister by teaching; when he and Rivke got married, they got married on her term - move to America, and he did; when Rivke's brother became ill and moved to California, he followed with Rivke to move to California; there are many other examples as such, he and Rivke saved pennies to buy tickets for their relatives to come to America; Jacob's all-life work with Union to improve conditions of others; and his generosity to the Center and his people is just one another example of such.


Yes this is a very good point. I just WISH  he had been presented differently. I don't know how that might have been done, but...there it is. It is what it is. I'm glad we have readers who can see the good in this section.

 Good reminder Barbara on the donation of organs and tissue. And this was a good point: ".. continuity is not in our hands," along with the one you made about the silver a bit back.

And that was an interesting post about symbolism and continuity, too.  All this talk of death, have any of you read the book How We Die? It would give perhaps yet another POV.

Hongfan, egregius originally meant standing out of the flock (e=from, grex, gregis=flock), standing out of the common herd, extraordinary. Originally standing out  because of excellence,  then apparently in the 16th century or thereabouts,  said sardonically or with a sneer and it appears that the latter caught on and now means standing out by being awful. It's like the word gay, a perfectly innocuous word which now means something else besides cheerful and happy. Etymololgy is extremely interesting.

Bubble, I SO agree with this: At least she is not ridiculous like some old, overweight women who try to fit into skinny pants and two sizes too small tops.   Act and dress  your age. (On the other hand once you hit the mid 70's, if you're not yourself THEN, when will you be? So,  be yourself). What a lot of conflicting advice we're given.

I am of the "I shall wear purple" theory. It's very freeing to be old, it really is. You get to be exactly who  you are. I love that about it. I would not be 20 again for all the money in the world, but I wish I knew then what  I know now.

I just double checked the heading again to see if there were any points uncovered and there don't appear to be, but those were actually just for starters.

Is there anything else you feel important in this chapter you'd like to talk about?

Here's something in one of the blurbs for the book:  "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Of course Bel Kaufman wrote Up the Down Staircase,  but I'm wondering, we have only one chapter and two small explanations to follow, and I'm wondering if YOU feel somehow changed, and if so, in what way?

Perhaps that might be best left for the very last?

I can say at this point that I wish I had read this book years ago. I feel as if I have had a course in Gerontology and I so understand now a lot of things in dealing with older people I did not.  That has changed my approach to a lot of things, and was a useful experience because of it.  I think that's a good change.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 20, 2017, 10:54:36 PM
Ginny, thanks for the explanation on the evolution of the meaning of egregius. I guess today it is probably more fitting to go back to the original meaning, because seems to some people, standing out of the common herd, getting attention, ANY kind of attention is REALLY REALLY good, so good so it is worth of pursuing at any cost. 

Related to consciousness in earlier posts, ran into this today and thought it interesting, I didn't know there is a field called parapsychology, or paranormal research.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/54450/13-university-sanctioned-paranormal-research-projects

And this one is really interesting:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/biocentrism/201703/are-plants-aware

We think time is an object, an invisible matrix that ticks away regardless of whether there are any objects or life. Not so, says biocentrism. Time isn’t an object or thing; it’s a biological concept, the way life relates to physical reality. It only exists relative to the observer.

According to biocentrism, time is bio-logical — completely subjective and invariably emerges from a unitary co-relative process. All knowledge amounts to relationships of information, with the observer alone imparting spatiotemporal meaning.  Since time doesn’t actually exist outside of perception, there is no experiential “after death,” even for a plant, except the death of its physical structure in our "now." You can’t say the plant or animal observer comes or goes or dies, since these are merely temporal concepts.

Do you understand what the author is saying? And how that might be related to aging well?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 20, 2017, 11:26:00 PM
Well if nothing else commenting on this book after reading gave me an opportunity to really hone what I believe - yep, I only see chaos and I am OK with that - that, for me, is good to know...

Having seen my good friend through the last 3 weeks of her life, death was normalized - death became just one more aspect of life - having birthed my children in a hospital I never did witness their birth - in the 50s they knocked you out with ether - I wonder if my experience and attitude about birth would have become as normalized as my experience with death. I do have to be thankful because my 2nd baby would not have lived had I not been in the care of Doctors and nurses however, I do see how western medical attitudes keep death at bay so that using the symbol offered in the book, the Angel of Death - that Angel sure has to fight through to find an opening and then, there is little that is normal but rather as if life is snatched rather than a passing.

Thanks Ginny, great summation about the story of Jacob - Obviously the author and I are poles apart in our thinking and conclusions - at least I have my deductions and yes, I do get annoyed don't I - claptrap I say  ;) I feel like scrooge saying bah humbug.  ::)

We each have our plans how to live during our advancing years - lists and 10 commandments for some and others, taking on whatever comes. I am most grateful that I am not a victim of the slow death that is Alzheimer's... that would be excruciating as much for the family as the elder victim. 

I have learned much reading the posts from Hongfan, Bubble, Bellamarie, Jonathan and Ginny - many times these posts included another viewpoint. As I understand the viewpoint it helped me clarify and strengthen my own beliefs - a great gift to helping me clarify my identity - Interesting, I have experienced often how I think differently than even family members and where I do not seek their agreement I do get annoyed when folks seek security and the safety of continuity - I become fearful for them - I want everyone to feel OK stepping blindly off the rock but then, that is only logical if you see life as chaos and so, I truly fear for anyone attempting to hold on to stability and traditional systems and organization - Oh I can see and I do enjoy tradition but to hang on and attempt to push forward systems steeped in tradition, scares me as I only see them being tumped with the great risk of drowning when they go over life's waterfalls.

I need to learn how to say, Az ikh vel zayn vi er, ver vet zayn vi ikh? I love that - If I would be like him, who would be like me?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 20, 2017, 11:29:27 PM
Wow Hongfan - now that will take time  :D for me to wrap my head around. In other words time is relative to the participant observer? Never thought but I guess time would be involved in figuring out consciousness. Wow this is going to be a lot to chew on to understand any of it... thanks
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 21, 2017, 11:21:24 AM
The Jacob story for me was the leading up to what I saw as the climax of the book.  I was all engrossed in Myerhoff going through his entire life, how he had been such a self less person, lived for everyone else, survived so many pitfalls in his life, yet kept a positive attitude, forged through and made a good and successful life.  She had me waiting with baited breath to hear Jacob's wise words, his last words to speak to the Center people.  The Center people were looking forward to this icon, to speak his knowledge to them, something they were hoping to help them in some way after he was gone.  Myerhoff presented the entire story of Jacob as if he were a Moses, a prophet come down from the mountain with the knowledge,wisdom and direction from God, or as Elijah, or even a supernatural.

pg. 126  Had there been no intimations of the supernatural, the death, would probably have been frightening, suggesting that Jacob's mortal powers were beyond what we normally regard as possible.  The hints that there were other forces at work, besides Jacob's will and beyond his control, made a religious experience of one that might otherwise have been more bizarre than spiritual. 

Then Jacob is finally ready and able to give his speech, and Myerhoff gives us a translation of his speech:

Dear Friends:  Every other year I have had something significant to say, some meaningful message when we came together for this yontif.  But this year, I don't have an important message.  I don't have the strength... It is very hard for me to accept the idea that I am played out... Nature has a good way of expressing herself when bringing humanity to the end of its years, but when it touches you personally it is hard to comprehend...I do have a wish for today... It is this: that my last five years, until I am one hundred, my birthday will be celebrated here with you... whether I am here or not.  It will be an opportunity for the member of my beloved Center to be together for a simcha and at the same time raise money for our beleaguered Israrel."

With all due respect, I felt the suspense and waiting to hear this speech fell flat for me.  Myerhoff's translation of it possibly is the reason why it left me feeling disappointed.  It was obvious she was leading us up to the dramatic death of Jacob, but then she goes into a litany of analysis that I felt overplayed the whole purpose of Jacob's story.  But I think what was the true disappointment for me was, she then goes on with the whole invented conversation with Schmuel.  Myerhoff writes this entire chapter of Jacob in a sense that she was actually there witnessing, feeling and interacting with everyone and everything, when in fact she was not.  I think this is what has bothered me.  She seems to be writing in past and present tense, leaving me feeling a bit confused.  But what bothered me more so was her analytical and invented words that followed the funeral, especially the entire invented conversation with Schmuel, placing her own personal emotions into the story:

pg. 228  "Schmuel, I can't help but feel somewhat sad that your death was so little noticed while Jacob's was given so much attention.  You deserved more honor and gratitude."

She can't speak words in quotations for Schmuel, because he was not alive at the time this happened, although I understand her intent is to show how Schmuel would have felt about the whole ordeal. 

I don't intend to lessen Jacob's life and death, but I guess I have the same thoughts as Myerhoff having Schmuel stating, had he been alive:

"In my opinion, Jacob was a good man, a fine man even, he should rest in peace, but his death was an exaggeration.  His birthday party, the same.  A party is one thing, but a simcha for all Judaism this goes too far.  A man is a man.  This is his highest work.  It takes away from him to make him a hero."

Ginny, 
Quote
I personally think the Holocaust was as low as humanity can go.


I agree, and yet our government allows  the slaughter of innocent unborn babies inside the mother's wombs to carry out the plan of Margaret Sanger who's sole purpose of Planned Parenthood was to exterminate class, religion, creed, race and those less fortunate with diseases, because she believed they had no right to live. Since Roe v Wade more unborn babies have died at the hands of abortion than the number of lives lost in the Holocaust.  We have learned nothing throughout the years?  In the words of Schmuel: 

'Az ikh vel zayn vi er, ver vet zayn vi ikh?  [If I would be like him, who would be like me?]  No truer words spoken.   

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 21, 2017, 11:49:59 AM
 I actually  had one foot out the door for a day of activity with grandson, already anticipating happily pondering hongfan's  and Barbara's posts when I stopped by one last time and read  445.

Bellamarie, I  think your post 445  on the Jacob story intended to be leading up to a climax and then the invented Shmuel bit is brilliant. I think you nailed it. I had totally forgotten about the invented Shmuel bit.  Yes  yes yes!


Brilliant! All the pieces have now  clicked into place for me, you've nailed the Jacob placement in the book and the flatness and  I had forgotten the Shmuel made up dialogue, you've nailed it!  No wonder some of our readers  think the Jacob story is not real.

THAT was a masterpiece, excuse me for saying so. Am off with grandchild, will catch you all tonight. Well done!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 21, 2017, 12:17:35 PM
On the abortion topic, I can see each side has its argument, and life is not black and white, it is a case by case and circumstance by circumstance.

When I was pregnant with my first child, three of my close friends were pregnant too and four of us gave birth in the same year, it was a party! Then one of my friends, in a few months after, noticed her infant son was not developing normally, they brought him to all the best pediatrians and no one knew what was the problem, the baby gradually, a bit by bit, lost his ability to see, listen, eat and eventually breathe, the parents and the baby were all in a ordeal for two years until his death! It's just heartbroken every time we saw him and made you wonder what is the meaning to maintain a life in such suffering? In such a case, an abortion might be the best for everyone - if it could be detected during her pregnancy, which unfortunately was not.

I guess our views are all shaped by our own experiences, circumstances, cultures and religious beliefs, and it is difficult to address when multiple factors are involved.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 21, 2017, 12:40:31 PM
I am not surprised that Jacob was not saying much "important" messages. I actually wonder for someone, knowing the Angel of Death is waiting and this is the last moment that he/she can say something, what would this person say? I am curious. To me, seems words are shallow in those last moments? If you already know the truth of the life, the wisdom of the wisdom, then you cannot share in words any way.

In Daoism, there is a saying: the one knows doesn't say, the one says doesn't know.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 21, 2017, 02:20:57 PM
hongfan,   
Quote
life is not black and white, it is a case by case and circumstance by circumstance.
 
I can not agree with this, because if I do then we are thinking as a dictator, deciding which human life is more important.  Since my Christian belief is that God is the creator of human life, then I have to believe, He has a purpose for every human life created.  When we give the theory of case by case, and circumstance by circumstance, then we are taking another's life into our own hands.  As the result of this, we have those who are now profiting from the selling of organs from the butchered babies, while they are still alive inside the womb. 

Quote
It's just heartbroken every time we saw him and made you wonder what is the meaning to maintain a life in such suffering? In such a case, an abortion might be the best for everyone - if it could be detected during her pregnancy, which unfortunately was not.

My heart goes out to this family you mentioned, but, I'm betting those parents who held that precious baby in their arms, treasured that little baby as imperfect as he was, would not have seen it through the eyes of others.  As heartbreaking as it was for them, and others to see this baby and family live through their experience, I am certain they cherished every second they had with their baby.  As we have learned in this book, pain is something we all have to experience in life, we can't avoid it, we must live through it and learn from it.  Pain is as natural as love, and I believe those parents through all their pain, grew in love, and in ways others could never understand, and may teach others from living with their baby boy. 

Quote
I guess our views are all shaped by our own experiences, circumstances, cultures and religious beliefs, and it is difficult to address when multiple factors are involved.

Yes, and I while I can't agree with your views, I respect you sharing them.  That's what makes this and all our discussions so interesting, we all have different opinions and views.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 21, 2017, 02:57:37 PM
hongfan, 
Quote
I am not surprised that Jacob was not saying much "important" messages. I actually wonder for someone, knowing the Angel of Death is waiting and this is the last moment that he/she can say something, what would this person say? I am curious. To me, seems words are shallow in those last moments? If you already know the truth of the life, the wisdom of the wisdom, then you cannot share in words any way.

In Daoism, there is a saying: the one knows doesn't say, the one says doesn't know.

The author chose to use Jacob's story as her climax of the book in my opinion.  According to her, Jacob was holding out dying, knowing the Angel of Death was at his side, so he could give this monumental speech to the Center people.  The author had the readers all hyped up, waiting to hear the final words of wisdom from this so called prophet.  The Center people were waiting for his words of wisdom to help them in their final days, so what he had to say would not have been considered "shallow."  The author chose to translate Jacob's speech, and in my opinion it fell flat.  I feel we are given knowledge and wisdom to share with others, just as great philosophers, inventors, prophets, priests, theologians, professors, teachers, elders, etc., etc., have done throughout time.  If we are not meant to share our wisdom to help others progress and learn in life, then what good would it be to gain it?  God has given us the inspired word of the Bible, Torah, Koran, etc., to help us share His word, so we may gain in knowledge and wisdom to pass it on. This entire book was written, meant for the Center people to share their knowledge and wisdom, to help others to learn and understand more about aging.  Meyrhoff in her last words with Schmuel proves she did not deliver on the Jacob story.  She has Schmuel telling her:

pg. 229  "You admire it if you want.  Don't ask me to.  It's the same thing that always bothers me, how they are always making up everything.  Not letting things be themselves.  I suppose as usual you are finding something in your anthropology book about people dying like this?"

Then the last words Myerhoff has Schmuel saying in this chapter, after she tells him of being familiar with the Angel of Death through losing her parents, grandparents and good friend Ruth who was like a sister to her is:

pg 231 (Schmuel)  "I think this attitude you are talking about, paying such attention to life, is what we mean by 'a heart of wisdom.'" he replied.  "In the psalm it says, "So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom."

Again, I have a problem with Myerhoff the author, the anthropologist inventing this conversation in the end with Schmuel to place herself into the story, and find endings even so much so, for her own title of the book.  An anthropologist as I see it, is like a journalist, they should remain unbiased and leave their personal feelings and emotions out of the reporting.  When they break this rule, they then begin to fabricate, making the story unreal and unbelievable.  This is where the story at least this ending of the chapter became about her, instead of Jacob or the Center people.  Just as journalists have lost their perspective in reporting and lost their jobs in doing this, I feel Myerhoff did indeed get distracted with her attachment to Schmuel, and imposing her personal self, in needing to invent the entire conversations with him in this chapter.

I, myself grew attached to Schmuel, I was disappointed when he died so early on.  Ginny asked if the order of the book could have been different.  It appears our author was not ready for Schmuel to die so early, and needed to keep him alive, even if it had to be through her own creation.  She seems determined to make Schmuel the protagonist in the story, maybe even the hero.   

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 21, 2017, 05:22:48 PM
Bellamarie, we all agree that in this case different views and choices should be allowed  and respected, and no one should impose their values and beliefs onto others, to have a law banning on abortion is imposing one value/belief system onto all, and the same with all the bloody crusades in the past. You can even argue that is the starting point of holocaust, thinking one set of values and beliefs is superior to others.

I would even go further to argue that taking out all regions, this world might be more peaceful, so many religious wars and so many lives lost because of it.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 21, 2017, 05:44:57 PM
hongfan, Having a law allowing abortion is imposing one value/belief system onto all.  I can respectfully agree to disagree with you, and not attempt to impose my values and beliefs onto anyone. They are mine alone, and I am thankful I have them.  I will end it here.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 21, 2017, 11:11:42 PM
'In Daoism, there is a saying: the one knows doesn't say, the one says doesn't know.'

I respect the views of both of you. Beyond that I'll adopt the Daoist tactic and keep my mouth shut. The better part of wisdom.

I would like to quote you one more time, Hongfan: 'I actually wonder for someone, knowing the Angel of Death is waiting and this is the last moment that he/she can say something, what would this person say? I am curious. To me, seems words are shallow in those last moments?' 

They weren't Dad's last words on earth. They were his first words from heaven that took me by surprise. He was 90 and in palliative care. I stopped in to see him and he seemed asleep. It wasn't very long. His eyes opened. He saw me standing at his bed and a broad smile crossed his face. 'What are you doing here!?' he exclaimed. Consciousness returned. 'I dreamed I was in heaven,' he said wistfully. And I reassured him most heartily that I would not disappoint him, God willing.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 22, 2017, 04:21:43 AM
Hasidism

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMoFQhOG_Ok
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 22, 2017, 04:26:25 AM
OKaaaa

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh3S88ksnJ8
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 22, 2017, 08:30:23 AM
Interesting links Barb, thanks for sharing.

Jonathan, you have surely been blessed with your wife and father giving you spiritual insights in their death.

Something I have noticed in the past couple years, and more so as I near my 65th birthday in just a few days, is how I have come to a peace with aging and dying, much like Leah describes here:

pg.   I  think outliving one's children must be the heaviest burden a person can carry.  Yet she was not defeated even by that.  As we sat on the bed, she reminisced about her childhood and the fullness of her life.  She was prepared for death, but was not anticipating it by diminishing her life now.  As we talked, I felt as though another presence sat on the bed with us, quietly, without threat, the Angel, with his wings folded.  When people have  made this peace with death, they live with greater consciousness.  Every day, every moment becomes more complete in itself.  It makes people impatient with trivia, decorum, deception, because every moment counts, for good or ill."

To add to this insight of Leah's..... is for me, I find the moments with my family and friends are so much more heartfelt.  We went to my favorite Italian restaurant last night with my sons, daughter in laws, and grandchildren, and just sitting there looking down the table of the twelve of us (missing one granddaughter and her boyfriend who had to work) I was filled with so much joy and love.  The waitresses and waiters surprised me coming to sing Happy Birthday to me, using my birth given first name Annabella, which one of my sneaky grandkids informed them of, and I stood looking at my flaming cake with 65 candles burning, as they sang, and I thought to myself..... this is what life is all about, I am blessed!  My birthday wish I will not tell, since they say it won't come true if you reveal it, but I will say, I felt it coming true in that very moment.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hats on July 22, 2017, 12:17:35 PM
I have read Post # 50 more than once. Now I understand Ginny's statement. I would like to read about this rare group of Jewish people. Yes, we always hear about the same groups over and over again.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 22, 2017, 12:36:24 PM
hats, It's so good to see you!!!  You would really like this book, and discussion.  We are nearing the ending, but please stick around and join in, it's certainly a topic we can all relate to and gain some insight from.  I've really enjoyed getting to learn about the Jewish people, culture and their personal thoughts and beliefs on aging, religion, and family.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 22, 2017, 05:47:02 PM
Sorry for being AWOL, our 4 day visit is over and a good time was had by all, thank you for continuing on so well.

I still have some thoughts on this chapter but I think it's time for one of our hiatuses (where we can say anything we'd like) till Wednesday when we read the last chapter in the book, "Jewish comes  up in you from the roots." That's the last real chapter in the book.

After that we have two very short items, the Epilogue and the Afterword, which I think we need to read. She also has a lot of notes in the back, some of which are quite interesting, which you may want to consult.

 So next Wednesday then for Chapter 7.

Hats, how good to see you here! (My old Philly buddy!) :) This is a wonderful discussion which has ranged a long way afar from the book in some cases but which has been most enjoyable. The comments are absolutely wonderful!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 22, 2017, 06:17:04 PM
So here we are facing the last 30 or so pages of the book. When we started it out, we were actually taking on a firecracker, in that we are discussing 2 of the three topics that you never discuss at the dinner table: religion, politics (and what is the 3rd?) I think we've done a good job.

I'm not going to pretend I understand everything that's been said in each of the last 400+ posts, nor that I agree with all of them, nor that I even find some of the concepts 100 percent  logical, but we all have our own ideas and the range of them has been very educational.

We started saying we would talk about aging and I think this chapter we've just read has some wonderful suggestions about how to grow old. In fact I think the entire book has been that way by example and by direct address. This chapter and the two Epilogues and Afterword are the ones I have been dreading because loose ends have to be tied up and realistically, I dread hearing how how our "friends" at the Center fared.

SO, let's begin with your thoughts:

Hongfan, what interesting concepts you've brought to the table:

According to biocentrism, time is bio-logical — completely subjective and invariably emerges from a unitary co-relative process. All knowledge amounts to relationships of information, with the observer alone imparting spatiotemporal meaning.  Since time doesn’t actually exist outside of perception, there is no experiential “after death,” even for a plant, except the death of its physical structure in our "now." You can’t say the plant or animal observer comes or goes or dies, since these are merely temporal concepts.

But what if it's like the tree in the forest, if it falls and nobody hears it, did it make a sound? One of my geraniums has suffered a premature death due to a soccer ball in the house. I can see it's dead.  But I'm not the only one. Anybody who walks by it in the next few days can see it's dead.  So what can we say when so many people can see it's gone?

Does that change the individual perception? And the death itself? Or is it really dead and the world does not actually revolve around us individually after all? What a fascinating topic.

This was a thoughtful point, Barbara: I want everyone to feel OK stepping blindly off the rock but then, that is only logical if you see life as chaos and so, I truly fear for anyone attempting to hold on to stability and traditional systems and organization - Oh I can see and I do enjoy tradition but to hang on and attempt to push forward systems steeped in tradition, scares me as I only see them being tumped with the great risk of drowning when they go over life's waterfalls.


I think the appeal of traditions for some people, regardless of what traditions they are, it seems sometimes every family has other ones is that they are somewhat as you say, they are comfortable in that they give comfort, and they make people feel better.


I'm just going to put almost this entire post which followed 450, because it's so good: Bellamarie, who in a previous post said she thought the Jacob section as leading  up to the climax of the book.



With all due respect, I felt the suspense and waiting to hear this speech fell flat for me.  Myerhoff's translation of it possibly is the reason why it left me feeling disappointed.  It was obvious she was leading us up to the dramatic death of Jacob, but then she goes into a litany of analysis that I felt overplayed the whole purpose of Jacob's story.  But I think what was the true disappointment for me was, she then goes on with the whole invented conversation with Schmuel.  Myerhoff writes this entire chapter of Jacob in a sense that she was actually there witnessing, feeling and interacting with everyone and everything, when in fact she was not.  I think this is what has bothered me.  She seems to be writing in past and present tense, leaving me feeling a bit confused.  But what bothered me more so was her analytical and invented words that followed the funeral, especially the entire invented conversation with Schmuel, placing her own personal emotions into the story:

pg. 228  "Schmuel, I can't help but feel somewhat sad that your death was so little noticed while Jacob's was given so much attention.  You deserved more honor and gratitude."

She can't speak words in quotations for Schmuel, because he was not alive at the time this happened, although I understand her intent is to show how Schmuel would have felt about the whole ordeal.

I don't intend to lessen Jacob's life and death, but I guess I have the same thoughts as Myerhoff having Schmuel stating, had he been alive:

"In my opinion, Jacob was a good man, a fine man even, he should rest in peace, but his death was an exaggeration.  His birthday party, the same.  A party is one thing, but a simcha for all Judaism this goes too far.  A man is a man.  This is his highest work.  It takes away from him to make him a hero."


I couldn't deal with Shmuel speaking either, or her dialogue with him. For me it interfered with the divide I had previously felt of the expert and the Center participant.  It made me question all the other conclusions, if this is made up because she knows what he'd say then since he's not here she's speaking for him...questionable, I think, and really does nothing to help the way the Jacob story is presented.

 It's a shame. The last bit of this chapter to me ...I don't know what to say, really. We are now dealing in fiction in our conversation with Shmuel,  so what else is fictitious? The whole thing is an anti climax, I think. 

On the other hand, not sure what else could have been done. Start with Jacob, perhaps? Omit the dialogue entirely between what Shmuel would have said? Surely he can speak for himself when he does.

Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 22, 2017, 06:59:43 PM
Bellamarie quotes this:

pg. 228  "Schmuel, I can't help but feel somewhat sad that your death was so little noticed while Jacob's was given so much attention.  You deserved more honor and gratitude."

She can't speak words in quotations for Schmuel, because he was not alive at the time this happened, although I understand her intent is to show how Schmuel would have felt about the whole ordeal.

I don't intend to lessen Jacob's life and death, but I guess I have the same thoughts as Myerhoff having Schmuel stating, had he been alive:

"In my opinion, Jacob was a good man, a fine man even, he should rest in peace, but his death was an exaggeration.  His birthday party, the same.  A party is one thing, but a simcha for all Judaism this goes too far.  A man is a man.  This is his highest work.  It takes away from him to make him a hero."


It's not a competition. A beautiful woman is no less beautiful if another gorgeous woman enters the room. If anything it makes them both shine. The author has a connection to Shmuel and rightly so, he's been wonderful for her. She is sorry his passing did not attract what she felt he deserved and she's probably right, but to have him after death, to imagine him saying the above, that a simcha for all Judaism goes too far.  It takes away from him to make him a hero... This is....not good. At all.

She doesn't know what Shmuel would have said, he might have said something completely different. He might have started by saying you understand nothing as he did so many times.   This is not a good section of the book, in my opinion. It's not a contest. It's dear  of her, she obviously misses Shmuel and felt very close to  him,  but it's not a contest. Shmuel shines as brightly as he always did, no matter what was done for Jacob.

This MAY explain the way Jacob was presented in the first place.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 22, 2017, 07:04:51 PM
Bellamarie, was it your birthday ceebration?

(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/birthdaycake.jpg)
Happy 65th Birthday!

(Loved that it won't come true if you tell it. :) We can add that to our list of modern superstitions, but I do it, too.)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 22, 2017, 07:21:51 PM
Happy Birthday Bellamarie
(https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQtYPmGFLTtd21eNwsq0njCfvP_3UVkBdppiWiB5lzzKOQ8wjK1)
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 22, 2017, 07:22:16 PM
Hats so pleased to see your post - hope all is well with you - this has certainly been a book that seems to dig deep into our own beliefs so there is probably not a lot of consensus since we are all such individuals.

Well it is prompting me to do a few things - things I kept waiting for the perfect time that now I realize there is no perfect time and no, I cannot do them as first imagined but for instance, I have wanted to make different kinds of soups and apple dishes - so I started today.

Each week for a year I am going to make a different soup and during the week make one apple dish - I have a recipe book that includes an apple dish for every day of the year - I realize now I am never going to do an apple dish a day so why not an apple dish a week - have to choose a day when I do not have tons to do or find and use only the simple recipes so that means reading the book again and choosing the simplest recipe out of 7 and for soup - I have tons of cookbooks with soup recipes. I love soup and this gives me the push to make some new ones although, today I am doing one that is familiar to a degree.

Found farm fresh chicken legs with thigh attached for only .99 a pound  - two legs were all of .70 - can you believe 70 cents - I had picked up some of that inexpensive Tisdale wine @ 4.99 since I have a whole frozen chicken I'll do later this week (my chicken week) I like washing them in wine - helps cut down on bacteria and it increases the taste at the same time -

So in went about a half a cup of wine after the chicken legs were browning a bit in some olive oil - then added what I had in the frig - a white onion quartered, a small piece of ginger cut into slivers, cut about 3 inches off the top of a bunch of celery, 3 carrots topped and cut in half, 3 small new potatoes cut in half and about 2 cups of water, salt, white pepper and some summer savory - it is in the oven in a thick Le Creuset Casserole - and so the beginning of weekly soup for a year.   

I've been fed up with the news and only watch PBS TV on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights and so I need to pull out my knitting instead of wasting time on facebook or jumping TV stations just because I always have the TV on after dark - if I cannot stand it with the TV off then I have a few concerts on CDs that I can use as background sound.

 I have some of the nicest wool - First I want to make at least a pair of socks each month - just simple socks - I have some wonderful colorful thick wool so they will be more like house socks - I could squeeze in a pair for July that I started last winter (grey with red tops, heels and toes) and then I have 5 months till Christmas so all 5 grandboys could get a pair of cozy house socks - that is a start - with the temps around 104 I am not going to promise an evening walk - I want to but, just doing these other three things is a big start towards working on my bucket list of things to do that I had been waiting for the perfect time to get started.

Now I need to get my apple desert book out and see what it will be this week. Tip if you did not know, do not buy Gala apples - they are so cheap because they are genetically engineered by Monsanto to allow the fruit to last longer in storage and planted a few years ago - there were 3 other popular kinds and I forgot which but the telling factor is they are much less expensive a pound than other apples.

that is an issue those living in the Center do not seem to have to face or that Barbara did not address - the musical chairs we must play to get food that is not going to mess us up - grrr... and now we hear that Japan is going to dump all the toxic nuclear waste from Fukushima in the already contaminated Pacific.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 22, 2017, 07:26:24 PM
What a sweet story about your visit with your dad, Jonathan. You are lucky or blessed or both to have had that conversation.


Hongfan, this was a good question: I actually wonder for someone, knowing the Angel of Death is waiting and this is the last moment that he/she can say something, what would this person say? I am curious


In How We Die a physician explains what happens when the body systems physically begin to fail. He is of the opinion, if I  understood him correctly that when all systems are failing the time for meaningful conversation needs to take place before the final moments, not at the moment of death. Obviously there are exceptions to this theory and we have seen many presented here. I think however it would be useful to remember, just in case.

Thank you for those links to Hasidism, Barbara, most interesting.

I hope I have not missed anything or anybody, if I have, I apologize.

The author has "Shmuel," on page 231, say "I think this attitude you are talking about, paying such attention to life, is what we mean by a 'heart of wisdom,'" he replied.

And there we have the meaning of the Psalm, and the title of the book.   But again, it's manufactured in a fictional "conversation" with Shmuel. So to me that defeats the purpose.

  Again we have a dream at the end of this chapter. Page 231 again, " I  had a dream the other night when I was writing up my notes about Jacob's death, Shmuel. A man of great wisdom, a doctor...this part and the doctor ended... .....Go home and live fully. The fatal disease is life."

What do you think of that paragraph on the last page of this chapter? Whose philosophy is this? 





Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 22, 2017, 07:45:15 PM
Barbara, what a great post. I did not know that about Japan!!!

 do not buy Gala apples - they are so cheap because they are genetically engineered by Monsanto to allow the fruit to last longer in storage and planted a few years ago - there were 3 other popular kinds and I forgot which but the telling factor is they are much less expensive a pound than other apple


I did not know this about apples. I only buy Fugi Organic for eating.


Each week for a year I am going to make a different soup and during the week make one apple dish - I have a recipe book that includes an apple dish for every day of the year - I realize now I am never going to do an apple dish a day so why not an apple dish a week - have to choose a day when I do not have tons to do or find and use only the simple recipes so that means reading the book again and choosing the simplest recipe out of 7 and for soup - I have tons of cookbooks with soup recipes. I love soup and this gives me the push to make some new ones although, today I am doing one that is familiar to a degree.

This is exciting! My great aunt's house always smelled of apples. She always had apples stewing on the stove or just cooked and obviously  her apple a day didn't keep the doctor away, she was one well into her 80's. I don't think anything smells better than an apple cooking.


that is an issue those living in the Center do not seem to have to face or that Barbara did not address - the musical chairs we must play to get food that is not going to mess us up - grrr...
  Yep, T.S.Eliot did: "Do I dare to eat a peach?"  Very good point or maybe she didn't realize it.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 22, 2017, 07:49:32 PM
And so on we go, talking of what strikes us until Wednesday when we take up Chapter 7. I'll put some points to ponder in Tuesday evening for everybody to be thinking about.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 22, 2017, 08:11:31 PM
I really like the idea that Hongfan shared about our body decomposing to the atmosphere - I do not see any of this as contrary to the idea of God - Since no one has ever seen God, the bible says some have dreamed or seen God behind a rock or in the clouds but then what is true - folks trying to reach for order and comfort can dream they see - these are  folks without the ability to 'know' as today - This was back when they still believed the earth was sitting on 4 large tree trunks and the sky was a bowl that if it rained meant there was a leak in the bowl - based on this kind of understanding about the earth we decided to make God look like a man with super powers - it gave comfort back when mankind was grappling with God as a power, centuries before Christ.

In addition, we have so many stories about God and how we came about - whose to tell if we are any better at guessing the story of the beginning of mankind than the Sioux or the Hindu.

And so, the idea that there is a power I'll call God before the big bang fits - back before the universe which is the journey of our protons that make up our body today. Just as we learned those 7 days spoken about in the early bible are not days as we imagine time to be divided into 24 hours - we have 24 millenniums for mankind to evolve from the earliest bits of life and so why not have us vaporize back into those early components - Also, it was man who came up with the idea of a here-after, heaven and hell.

Many have suggested there is hell on earth for some - who knows - I think when I have read enough about the development of consciousness I will have a better scenario for myself - because frankly that is all it is - our own fairytale - folks do not die and come back to tell us all about it.

With the far reaches now of the known universe there has not been any bumping into a place called heaven and if our soul is like our consciousness they are pretty much invisible. Again, who knows but, I like the idea of vaporizing - maybe seeding clouds or attaching bits of my chemical base to stars. Its our skeleton that hangs around for a very long time - now that when you think of it is facinating.     

You are so right Ginny this book is a key to opening our mind to so many thoughts that do not come up in daily conversation - this has been great...
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 23, 2017, 05:23:24 AM
ooopsss the notify did not work and I forgot to look in, days fly by so fast!  Sorry...

I have been thinking about the time concept,  abouth death.
If time is not the reality that we imagine, then there could be parallel time running simultaneously?  Then death in one time would not be death in another?

Anyway, my own concept of death is NOT an end. It is just exiting from one door and entering on a one-way the other side of that door in another dimension, another "reality".   Which explain why we don't have concrete info from behind that door.
I don't fear that unknown, just mildly curious about it.

Maybe the Angel of Death is the one timely opening that door?


 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 23, 2017, 05:39:49 AM
we all agree that in this case different views and choices should be allowed  and respected, and no one should impose their values and beliefs onto others, to have a law banning on abortion is imposing one value/belief system onto all...

I would even go further to argue that taking out all regions, this world might be more peaceful, so many religious wars and so many lives lost because of it.

I agree with you on all this, except   I realize that taking out all religions would be for some people like pulling the crutches from under them.  They need the belief to feel secure, to give them a direction in life.  I know it is not like that for all religious people, but true for many of them who do not question.

In the book, religion seems to be more of tradition, force of habit than profound faith.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 23, 2017, 11:35:53 AM
Thank you Ginny & Barb for the wonderful birthday wishes.  Yes, my birthday is Wed. the 26th and I will officially be a member of Medicare.  Oh was that ever enlightening as the mail poured in leading up to July, for me to decide if I want part B, C, or D along with A.  I spoke with many of my friends and family who have crossed this senior threshold, and decided since my hubby has me on his Blue Cross Blue Shield with his retired Post Office insurance which acts as a supplemental, I declined B,C and D.  It was shocking to see how much it would cost a month to have just Part B. 

Speaking of keeping with tradition, or not, we celebrated my birthday early this year because my son and his family were leaving to go out of town today, and would not be back for my birthday.  We always were a stickler to celebrate "ON" the actual birthday, no sooner, no later and ONLY ONE day to celebrate.  Well, when my son married his wife we learned there are lots of days to celebrate, including their tradition that can begin the month of their birthday, or a week leading up to the day, or go even beyond the actual birthday.  Not to mention you can even celebrate your half birthday if you so wish to.  It reminds me of Alice In Wonderland celebrating a Very Merry Un-Birthday which is 364 days of the year!    ::)  Oh, you can just imagine how this went over with me and my hubby.  But as the years have gone by, we have learned to go with the flow.  We don't do half birthdays, and we are finding this celebrating for days on end can be a very costly trend, so we buy their gifts, give them when we do our "family" celebration, and be done!  All the others that come before or after, we attend and don't feel bad, we didn't carry in yet another gift.  We are okay with changing our ways to adapt to our new family members, but like my hubby says, "Don't mess with our Christmas Eve, going to Mass together, and then back to our house for dinner and gift opening."  Oh, and Thanksgiving will remain at our house til we can't do it anymore.  (I'm preparing him to be a bit more flexible, since I can see even this changing in the near future.)

Some may see tradition and religion as a force of habit, or a comfort and security, but for me they are what truly brings meaning into our lives.  Sharing our traditions and faith is like breathing to us. God "IS" our center.  We have been blessed to have raised our kids and grandkids to love our Lord, and to give all thanks and praise to Him, just as our generations before us believed, lived, and passed on to us .  In a world of chaos, confusion, wars, instability, my faith gives me clarity, and yes security, because the one thing I know for certain, is I can turn to God and pray for strength, patience, wisdom, and his gift of grace. My faith is who I am, without it I would not be the person I am .  I can question things about my faith, because I think in doing so, it gives me more knowledge, it allows me to continue to go to my Bible study and ask hard questions, and learn more about not only my faith, but others as well.  I live by our Apostle's Creed, the Beattitudes, the Corporal Works of Mercy, the great Our Father prayer, our Lord taught us.  In my wisdom, as I am about to turn sixty-five years old, (which is still young, according to my sister in law, who is 78) I have come to realize that there will always be people in this world who will mock, snub, slander, and persecute those who choose to follow their faith.  I have seen the slaughter of Christians on the news to validate the hate people have in their hearts still, if only because we don't think like them.  There are leaders who kill innocent children only because they are the wrong gender, and have no right to take up space in their world, who kill because of your choice of a sex partner, who choose to believe differently.  These countries then want to have the audacity to presume to tell others how we are to live, think, believe and act according to their rule.  So, for me, there is only one God, one ruler of the universe, and I will believe and follow that God and pray to join Him in His Heavenly kingdom one day.  For those who don't, I can respect that, but what I will never understand, is how anyone can reject God because they feel He has disappointed and let them down.  Throughout since the universe began, there has been evil in the world, to blame evilness acts people choose to do, on God is inconceivable to me.  We have been taught right from wrong, good from evil, and given the free will to choose. Should we choose to do evil, we can not then blame God, for the consequences of the evil we choose to do.   

Barb, I absolutely love your idea of apple and soup making, along with knitting.  This past Christmas I picked up my knitting needles and crochet hooks for the first time in years, and managed to do a scarf & matching bun hat for my four granddaughters.  I found this pattern where you leave an opening in the top of the hat so their bun or ponytail can hang out of the hat.  The joy on those girls faces when they opened them and realized "Nonni" made them, were priceless.  My oldest Kenzie wore her's to her college class on a very cold, windy, snowy, blustery day and took a "selfie" and posted it on FB.  Oh the joy it brought my heart when I saw that hat and scarf on her, keeping her toasty warm.  Socks are a great idea, I may give that a try this Christmas.  Good idea to get started now, I was rushing myself like mad to get those scarfs and hats done to wrap by Christmas Eve.  We have a fabulous knitting shop nearby us.  Hayden my next to the youngest, had a day off of school so I took her with me to let her pick out her own color and yarn for her scarf and hat.  We looked like two kids in a candy shop!  Nothing more fun than to pick up a ball of yarn, two knitting needles and begin those stitches, then seeing the finished product.  You must show me pics when you get the socks done.  I am already smelling your apple and soup cooking, and it's not even Fall time yet.  The perfect moment is always....... NOW!!!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Annie on July 23, 2017, 11:42:25 AM
Hongfan, I just read and shared your second link and was so fascinated, I can't quit thinking about it!  Fascinating! Some of it, I was aware of but there was much to just sit and cogitate!

Although I have not commented very much, I have enjoyed reading all the posts concerning this thought producing book! Myerhoff has another book entitled "Peyote Hunting" about a tribe in the mountains of northern Mexico. 

But I thought some of us might enjoyed  reading Ursula Hegi's books which are about the German immigrants who came here after WWII.  They are fiction but since Hegi experienced much of what she writes, it seems anthropologic. We have discussed her "Stones From The River".

I am sure many authors do similar writing.

Studs Terkel has written a book entitled "Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who've Lived It" which I just discovered while preparing boxes of book donations for our library
since I am downsizing and moving to smaller quarters. I returned it to the pile of books that are going with me! 

I am now starting "Jewish comes up in you from the roots " which gives us more to consider about the group that our author has chosen to use for her anthropological opinion.  Let's see what else she wants us to see from her perspective!
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 23, 2017, 11:57:19 AM
Annie, it is so nice to hear from you!   How is the moving going?  My good friend Sandy, a widow since March is now moving into her elder apartment this coming week.  My son and daughter in law spent a few hours yesterday with her at her house sorting through what she will keep and bring with her, what she will donate, and what she has been able to give to family & friends.  She is excited, yet apprehensive since as she said, "This will be my first time ever living by myself."   As I have mentioned, she is only ten minutes from my son and her daughter's house, so she can feel secure in knowing they are so close by.  Will you be close to any of your family?  I am taking notes, and keeping in the back of my mind as you and others go through this process, to help me if and when it comes. 

This author has me a bit uncertain of the validity of her writing, with her taking the liberties of all the fiction she has peppered into to the story, but one thing is for certain, I have learned much from the Center people, and the members of this discussion.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hats on July 23, 2017, 12:49:14 PM
Ginny, I remember those conversations with fondness. I am glad this discussion has gone so well.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: Jonathan on July 23, 2017, 03:48:52 PM
Hi Hats! How nice of you to drop in. Yes, indeed. This has turned into a most rousing discussion. A lot of thought is going into it. Two little quotes from today's posts catch the spirit:

'Let's see what else she wants us to see from her perspective.'

'This author has me a bit uncertain of the validity of her writing...by introducing a lot of fiction.'


Thank you, Annie, and Bellamarie. She did promise us lots of action and portraying death as drama, as she has in this chapter, has called out unusual writing skills. I find the imaginary conversation with Shmuel very effective. She's acknowledging the debt she owes him. His death...what a contrast. It took 3 days just to get the news of it. She's still not over it. It certainly helped to form her perspective. And so did the death of Ruth, 'her beloved friend of twenty years, who was like my sister,' to whom she dedicated the book. (p230) As did 'another interesting book about ceremonial death that you might enjoy' (spoken to Shmuel, p229) This is a most unusual book. I had forgotten I had it in the house. It was written just before Barbara M wrote hers. Yes, I think the author had a lot of irons in the fire for this one.

I'm pleased that 'our' Barbara has even found the answer to the 'chaos' problem of life in this book. We're all coming over for some apple pie.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 23, 2017, 04:10:54 PM
About the imaginary conversation with Shmuel.
It was particularly interesting for me, not so much about the content but because it clarified a habit of years.
When I start to wake up in the mornings, I often have imaginary exchange with people, talking my mind (which I usually do not do!) and furnishing answers as well.  I now understand that it is a way to relieve stress or frustrations, a way to exterior- ize feelings and at times helps me find solutions to daily problems.
For me the way the author introduced that  exchange just showed me how much she missed Shmuel and was trying to come to term with that.
I don't know if anyone has the same habit I have, but in my eyes it was totally natural, normal.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 23, 2017, 10:09:30 PM
Jonathan, I agree, I think Meyerhoff had a very close relationship with Schumel and just did not want it to be over.  It was so unexpected. To be honest, even though I felt it was not proper for an anthropologist to place fiction in her book of studies, I did understand her needing and wanting her good pal Schmuel there with her to continue talking to her, giving her his advice and opinions.  From the very beginning of the book Schmuel captured my interest, and I could see myself sitting and talking with him for hours.  I was so disappointed he died early on in the book. Of all the people in the Center, Schmuel has been my favorite person. 

Bubble, I don't have imaginary conversations with people, but I do have many with God.  I tell him all my frustrations, and I actually am able to sort a lot of things out just taking that time out to give it all up to God.  I have a favorite saying which I am sure many have heard..."Let go, let God."  So I suppose Myerhoff needing to create conversations with Schmuel is not much different from us needing a way to get some insight.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 24, 2017, 09:08:11 AM
:) This is the wrong group to bring up the subject of talking to oneself, isn't it? hahaha

 I talk to myself all the time (supposedly it actually does you some good believe it or not), I just read that.  Here's one of many articles on it:  http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20170428-why-talking-to-yourself-is-the-first-sign-of-success

and https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/08/smarter-living/benefits-of-talking-to-yourself-self-talk.html

 Agatha Christie plotted all her books that way, talked the parts  out loud to see if they sounded right (I've got a million reasons why I do it, but none that sound that good :) ). People talk to those who are deceased, they talk to God, they argue or prepare arguments or speeches  that they have to make, particularly if they are not combative by nature, to see how it sounds out loud  in hopes it's not too strong and they won't go too far.  They do it to get perspective, to sound out the possibilities. There are lots of reasons and studies.

I loved this one: All of us need to talk to someone who’s interesting, intelligent, knows us well and is on our side and that’s us,” she says. “We’re probably the most interesting person we know. Knowing ourselves and how we feel can help us improve.”

My best story is I forgot where I was once in a supermarket and made some comments out loud and turned the corner to encounter another conversation but there was nobody there either. We had a terrific laugh over that. Two crazy old women, but I digress. (And believe it or not that supermarket story  is echoed in the NY Times article quoted, so there are a lot of us out there). The funny thing is that a lot of people now have these phones and ear buds and are talking to somebody else but they look like they are talking to themselves. I guess if you get a fake earbud you HAVE  gone around the bend? hahahaa There's a LOT of it going on.

 I think what happened here is different.

Here the author has, because of her close relationship with Shmuel, presented a "conversation" with him to make a point she does not want to make herself: that the canonization of Jacob was a bit overdone. She can't say this from her own conclusions because the book came out at a time when  the Center people could see it, (next chapter) but nobody else is saying it, so she has to make Shmuel say it (thus interpreting from her own close knowledge of him, what he would say and allowing her to sort of hide behind him, which..... I....have a problem with). I really do.


In the first place. Shmuel always disagreed with her assertions and said so, so who knows what he really would have said?

In the second place, I am sorry he was treated so at the Center, but I think he enjoyed it, and she (unfortunately untimely deceased herself) still could take pleasure in the fact that her own book allowed him the respect in death she felt he deserved.

So in an effort to give her the benefit of the doubt (which is the reader's right, to  have doubts,  and to express them, too), I have read my eyeballs out and this morning found something about anthropological research that seems to allow that one  can  get so acquainted with the subject that they feel they what the subject would say, etc., and so in the interest of not getting stuck (as I have BEEN stuck) on this issue I can see her saying if he were here he'd say (so I don't have to) XXX and YYY and I can present another point of view which is mine but I don't want to say so. She didn't say that, but perhaps she meant it.

However it would be more honest to have said I think Shmuel might have demurred and said, XXX.  But SHE as sort of an  Anthropological Judge (I did see an allusion to a concern about what she might say about them in the next chapter) can't say it.

So when you look at it that way (and let's face it, it's not something one is going to live or die over), i guess you can put aside misgivings and give her that. But I do think it needs to be noted for what it really is.








Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: bellamarie on July 24, 2017, 10:48:08 AM
Ginny, great links.  Makes us realize we are no different than others and it's actually good for us.  I remember when I was in high school I would goof around and say,  "I said to myself, and myself said to me." My friends would crack up and tease me asking, "So what did yourself have to say to you today?"  It was an ongoing joke.  I cracked up reading your supermarket chat with yourself.  I feel so silly when my hubby and I are in a store, I say something, turn around and he is no longer with me.  I'm standing there thinking how foolish I must look to others. 

I agree with your thoughts on Myerhoff's reason for placing the whole Schmuel created conversation in the story.  I have a real issue with it, and am sticking by it .  It was not her place as an anthropologist to create and quote someone who is already dead, but, in sticking by my calling foul ball... I too will give her the benefit of the doubt, as you point out is the readers's choice to do so.  I do understand how she felt so close she just couldn't let go of Schmuel.  My biggest issue I took with it was that she "injected" herself into the story.  An anthropologist is to base her findings on the material she gathers through her study of people, she needs to remain outside the story to give it veracity. 

Okay, I am off to take the two grands to Chuckie Cheese.  I've begun the next chapter and hope to finish it up after these two little munchkins go home.  There is NO concentrating when they are around, I must hear, "Nonni, Noni" a thousand times.  Not complaining, I will miss these days once they are too old to want to hang out at Nonni & Papa's house.   
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 24, 2017, 10:38:24 PM
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.

(http://seniorlearn.org/latin/graphics/NumberourDayscover.jpg)


They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it on subjects in the USA, and let them speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us! 

Questions to Ponder on  Chapter 7

Chapter 7: "Jewish comes up in you from the roots,"

1.  What is the meaning of the title of this chapter?

2. Why is this the last chapter in the book, do you think?

3. Let's look at some of the themes in this last chapter:

      A. Men vs Women:

I say let us put man and a woman together
To find out which one is smarter
Some say man but I say no
The woman got the man de day should know

And not me but the people they say
That de man are leading de women astray
But I say, that the women of today
Smartre than the man in every way
That's right de woman is uh smarter
That's right de woman is uh smarter
That's right de woman is uh smarter, that's right, that's right

 (Harry Belafonte: Man Smart, Woman Smarter).

In this last chapter Myerhoff characterizes the work and status of men versus that of women in this culture. Which do YOU think is more important, both  in the Center and in the world today? Why? Do you agree that women are stronger?  Why?

    B    What is "domestic religion?"  Is it important? Why or why not?

    C.  The author herself poses several questions. What is your opinion on or  answer to these?

              ------ "What did "count" for these people in reviewing their accomplishments?" (page 266)  The partial  answer: "Above all, the rearing of children who were well-educated, well married,  good citizens, good parents in their own right, children who considered themselves Jews and raised their children as Jews, and who respected their elderly  parents...."   

                      -------What of those who did not have children?  What, in your opinion, should "count" when taking stock of one's life?

             ------- "Is it  really true that women consider their work lesser in their 'heart of hearts?"  (page 267) What would you answer the author on this one?

    4. Speaking of the men's role in family life, as the breadwinner, the author states on page 265, "The money--in all but a few cases had been used to keep the family afloat.  Nothing of it remained."  What effect does it seem this has on the value or worth of the contribution of the men?  (Were you surprised to read this? Why or why not?)

     5. As the book began with Basha, it ends with Basha, and her move. Which of all the Center folks will you miss the most when the book is over? Why? (Have you ever seen one of those sewing machines as described in her apartment? What did the ability to use it mean to her?) What did you think of her instructions to destroy all of her writings, poems, etc?

     6. Why is storytelling important to the members of the Center?
   
     7. Of all of the memorable people and situations  in this chapter, which one made the most impression on you and why?



Those seem enough to start us out, if you don't like any of them, let's talk about what struck YOU?


What do YOU think?


 

Related to the topic of Consciousness, I forgot to mention that there is a book "Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounter Consciousness" by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner, two physicists. The book is based on a course taught by one of the authors at UC Santa Cruz on Quantum Physics for people without physics background. The book is a rare one in my view that explains the "strange" Quantum Mechanics in a very clear, easy-to-understand language - this wasn't found in other writings or lectures that I had read or listened before. It also focuses on discussion of the implications from Quantum Mechanics - what it tells us about the consciousness and the role in the world we see around us.

It has a website if you want to know more: http://quantumenigma.com
One of the authors also talked about the book in an interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw848mPRDWU

A couple of you liked the linked article "Are Plants Aware?", I just found that the author Dr. Robert Lanza of that article actually has published two books: "Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe" and "Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death". You can also find him in a few youtube clips. I watched one and am still not getting it. Maybe I will buy one of his books to see if I can understand it better, but it seems to me what he based his theories on are the basic Quantum Mechanics facts that Quantum Enigma explains rather clearly, so I guess if you haven't read the Quantum Enigma, it might be good to read it before reading Dr. Robert Lanza's books.
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: so P bubble on July 25, 2017, 02:40:28 AM
hongfan - interesting links. The quantum enigma book particularly is tantalizing, but I wonder if I would understand any of it even "  in a very clear, easy-to-understand language".  Our library of course does not keep such specialized books, neither the book stores.  I'll have to ponder on that!

I am still reading the last chapter. Schools are closed and Nonna of course has to be available so that Mom can go to work.
Plus it is stiffing hot and with 85% humidity.
I keep nodding while reading, as I agree with many of the observations. 
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 25, 2017, 09:48:31 AM
Yes I've just finished the last chapter myself, "Jewish comes up in you from the roots," and tomorrow we'll tackle some of the issues. I expect this one will be quite exciting. :)

First off, tho, Ann, how good to see you here, and we look forward to hearing your observations about  the conclusions the author has reached. I have only glanced at the Epilogue and Afterword but they are together very short and we'll do them for our last look at the Center folks and the book starting  Wednesday August 2.  And thank you for reminding us of Studs  Terkel whose books are almost all interviews, without interpretation: the people speak.

Hongfan, Quantum Enigma  is WAY over my head but I'm enjoying the very concept, and feeling somewhat proud  that I'm in a company who might even bring it up. :)

Bubble, 85 percent humidity could even be dangerous, and here I thought our humidity was high!

And I really enjoyed your and Barbara's ideas such as "If time is not the reality that we imagine, then there could be parallel time running simultaneously?  Then death in one time would not be death in another?"  And Barbara's thoughts  about the concept of hell and heaven.

It does seem that ancient man used rituals even when, in the case of the Romans, the Greek gods and what few native gods the Romans had ceased to have meaning, or were totally forgotten. In that they are like the Chinese peasants Pearl Buck wrote about in The Good Earth.  The ritual to the Roman was all important. And it's no wonder when you see the antics of their deities. But their theories on death and where the souls went after death were quite interesting. Barbara,  you might like to read Cicero on De Natura Deorum: on the Nature of Gods, written in 45 BC. It is a philosophical examination of  theology, contrasting it to other approaches like Stoicism.

Bellamarie, we're looking forward to hearing how Sandy likes her new digs and situation, I hope it's empowering, doing something yourself for the first time may be strengthening. I hope so.

Jonathan, thank you for reminding us of this: certainly helped to form her perspective. And so did the death of Ruth, 'her beloved friend of twenty years, who was like my sister,' to whom she dedicated the book. (p230) As did 'another interesting book about ceremonial death that you might enjoy' (spoken to Shmuel, p229) This is a most unusual book. That one slipped by me, perhaps her conversation with Schmuel was an attempt to get them both "back," so to speak.

And now...on to Chapter 7 in the morning!  I'll put SOME jumping off places in the heading now and in the post below, but as always, YOU can choose what you want to talk about and what you thought was the most important thing in this chapter to you.



Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: ginny on July 25, 2017, 10:24:25 AM
Questions to Ponder on  Chapter 7

Chapter 7: "Jewish comes up in you from the roots,"

1.  What is the meaning of the title of this chapter?

2. Why is this the last chapter in the book, do you think?

3. Let's look at some of the themes in this last chapter:

      A. Men vs Women:

I say let us put man and a woman together
To find out which one is smarter
Some say man but I say no
The woman got the man de day should know

And not me but the people they say
That de man are leading de women astray
But I say, that the women of today
Smartre than the man in every way
That's right de woman is uh smarter
That's right de woman is uh smarter
That's right de woman is uh smarter, that's right, that's right

 (Harry Belafonte: Man Smart, Woman Smarter).

In this last chapter Myerhoff characterizes the work and status of men versus that of women in this culture. Which do YOU think is more important, both  in the Center and in the world today? Why? Do you agree with the balance the author seems to see in the division of power? Do you agree that women are stronger?  Why?

    B    What is "domestic religion?" Is it important?   Why or why not?

    C.  The author herself poses several questions. What is your opinion on or  answer to these?

              ------ "What did "count" for these people in reviewing their accomplishments?" (page 266)  The partial  answer: "Above all, the rearing of children who were well-educated, well married,  good citizens, good parents in their own right, children who considered themselves Jews and raised their children as Jews, and who respected their elderly  parents...."   

                      -------What of those who did not have children?  What, in your opinion, should "count" when taking stock of one's life?

             ------- "Is it  really true that women consider their work lesser in their 'heart of hearts?'"  (page 267) What would you answer the author on this one?

    4. Speaking of the men's role in family life, as the breadwinner, the author states on page 265, "The money--in all but a few cases had been used to keep the family afloat.  Nothing of it remained."  What effect does it seem this has on the value or worth of the contribution of the men?  (Were you surprised to read this? Why or why not?)

     5. As the book began with Basha, it ends with Basha, and her move. Which of all the Center folks will you miss the most when the book is over? Why? (Have you ever seen one of those sewing machines as described in her apartment? What did the ability to use it mean to her?) What did you think of her instructions to destroy all of her writings, poems, etc?

     6. Why is storytelling important to the members of the Center?
   
     7. Of all of the memorable people and situations  in this chapter, which one made the most impression on you and why?



Those seem enough to start us out, if you don't like any of them, let's talk about what struck YOU?
Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: hongfan on July 25, 2017, 01:03:04 PM
Quantum Enigma book online: http://dl2.yazdanpress.ir/LIB/PHYS/1762016-PHY-2.pdf

I think you will be surprised how "easy" it is the authors have made it - there is no formulas or anything, take a look and you will be "expanding your frame" QUICKLY, hahahaa!

Another one I enjoyed very much is a three parts PBS series - The Elegant Universe, if you are pondering on time, space, dimensions beyond the 4 (3 spacial + 1 temporal), big band, multiverse, this is a movie you HAVE to see and will enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSwPN3i4XJs - Part 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyCBxcX0OQ0 - Part 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svOGWVer08M - Part 3


Title: Re: Number Our Days
Post by: BarbStAubrey on July 25, 2017, 01:36:52 PM
Thank you thank you Hongfan - found a page of books written by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner and decided on Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness - I am a beginner, but like so many things in my life that I was curious about, if I read enough I can develop the questions that starts me on a trail.

Yes, Ginny so many world traditions have their explanation for God or at least a system that helps to give living a meaning - Some of the oldest I have read extensively was the Tao - since Western philosophy is a building blocks of philosophers starting with the Greeks the problem is they are built only on male philosophers and women, who do have another perspective were excluded. There is no way now, thousands of years later to integrate and so it seems we are stuck with the male western philosophy and separately the female philosophers who are not systematized as building blocks. And so I've been searching for answers that explain science as a given -

Granted using western philosophers, the Jesuits continue to teach and pursue science and math as 'Thinking Faith' thereby, they acknowledge the existence of God on more than Faith.  I do not like how some babble that there is no God, both scientists and some copycats who justify their questions making it a stock answer and even go so far to claim that if you are at all educated you cannot believe in God - bah humbug - yes, natural selection was the trail but the elements were all here on earth and in the universe and for me at least those elements were not controlled or engineered by a higher power, but rather they were the gift that allowed what happened to develop. 

And so to read philosophy which I have off and on for about 40 years does not give me the questions that include the development of consciousness - I have been down the trail or development of the physical which only leads me to questions about what we cannot see - It may start with what we call moral character until you realize, what is morally supportive in one culture is not in another and therefore, morality is a byproduct of something - probably group living - but then how do we fit the individual in that system knowing the concept of an individual is very new - most systems were based in a tribal type community with no concept of the individual - on and on it goes with questions that lead me to explore consciousness which I am beginning to think is tied to our soul. That thought may also change as I understand more.

I do not have the formal education that my sister has achieved but something in our genes has us exploring philosophy - this is my sister's web site -
http://www.societyforthestudyofwomenphilosophers.org/Women_Philosophers.html

This is an interview with Kate about how the blog for women philosophers developed
https://unfspb.wordpress.com/2007/10/