Older people, who sometimes experience diminished cognitive or mental functioning or become more isolated as they age, are increasingly becoming the victims of abuse. They are vulnerable to abuse from a variety of sources, including both strangers and family members.
In the summer 2013 issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine, writer Jeannie Counce assesses the problem and efforts to combat it. “With America’s older population growing in numbers along with longer life expectancies, so is the problem of elder abuse—physical, financial, sexual and psychological—and Jewish organizations are in the forefront of efforts to combat it,” writes Counce in her alarming cover story.
The Administration on Aging in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared 2013 “The Year of Elder Abuse Prevention.” Awareness of the problem has been growing. Organizations like the Jewish Association Serving the Aging have stressed preparedness and early intervention as a means of curbing instances of abuse. B’nai B’rith has raised awareness of abuses that include financial scams and identity theft and has supported legislation that facilitated the detection of abuse and the prosecution of perpetrators.
Many instances of elder abuse go unreported—often, seniors fear additional repercussions or choose not to get a family member into trouble. The Administration on Aging estimates that there could be as many as 12 million victims of elder abuse each year, including unreported cases. While numerous organizations work to provide services to victims, much of the fight is aimed at preventing abuse from ever happening. By disseminating information and heightening awareness, numerous organizations and institutions are trying to ensure the ability of older Americans to live their lives with dignity and security.
Also in the summer issue, writer Uriel Heilman reports on the expansion of Hebrew-language charter schools in the United States and the controversy they have aroused. Some claim that these schools not only are thinly veiled attempts at providing Jewish education in a public-school forum but harm private Jewish day schools by offering similar, tuition-free education. Administrators maintain they offer no religious education and thus do not directly compete with private Jewish schools. These charter schools are open to students of any race or religion, offering a diverse student body the opportunity to learn in a bilingual atmosphere.
Elsewhere in the magazine, read about the inspiring journey of Harvey Horn, an American flight officer who became a POW in Nazi-occupied Italy in 1945. Writer Bruce H. Wolk takes readers through Horn’s arduous trek from Italy to Germany, where he helped protect his German guards from the liberating American Army. Even under the duress of a Nazi interrogation, Horn always maintained his Jewish faith.
B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin and his wife, Michal Mazal, were honored with the Distinguished Humanitarian Award along with International Senior Vice President Bruce Pascal and his wife, Amy, at an April 25 dinner. Our B’nai B’rith Today section gives a full report.
Elsewhere, Mariaschin writes in his regular column about a mission to Israel with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Read this—and more—in the summer 2013 issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine by clicking here.