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September 2010

In this issue:

About us:

Educating and engaging seniors to do social action;

Empowering grandchildren to make the world a better place;

And creating a legacy from one generation to another.

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A Stone in the Road: a short story  (from

boulder_in_road_picThere is a story told of a king who lived long ago in a country across the sea. He was a very wise king, and spared no effort to teach his people good habits. Often he did things which seemed to them strange and useless; but all that he did, he did to teach his people to be industrious and careful."Nothing good can come to a nation," he said, "whose people complain and expect others to fix their problems for them. Good things from life come to those who take matters into their hands".  One night, while everyone else slept, he placed a large stone in the road that led past the palace. Then he hid behind a hedge, and waited to see what would happen. First came a farmer with his wagon heavily loaded with grain, which he was taking to the mill to be ground. "Well, whoever saw such carelessness?"he said crossly, as he turned his team and drove around the stone."Why don't these lazy people have that rock taken from the road?" And so he went on complaining of the uselessness of others, but not touching the stone himself. Soon afterward, a young soldier came singing along the road. The long plume of his cap waved in the breeze, and a bright sword hung at his side. He was thinking of the wonderful bravery he would show in the war.  The soldier did not see the stone, but struck his foot against it and went sprawling in the dust. He rose to his feet, shook the dust from his clothes, picked up his sword, and stormed angrily about the lazy people who had no more sense than to leave such a huge rock in the road. Then he, too, walked away, not once thinking that he might move it himself. So the day passed. Everyone who came by complained and whined because the stone lay in the road, but no one touched it.
At last, just at nightfall, the miller's daughter came past. She was a hard-working girl, and was very tired, because she had been busy since early morning at the mill. But she said to herself," It is almost dark. Somebody may fall over this stone in the night, and perhaps he could be badly hurt. I will move it out of the way."So she tugged at the heavy stone. It was hard to move, but she pulled and pulled, and pushed, and lifted until at last she moved it from its place. To her surprise, she found a box underneath. She lifted the box. It was heavy, for it was filled with something. Upon it was written:“This box belongs to the one who moved the stone.”
She opened the lid, and found it was full of gold! The miller's daughter went home with a happy heart.
When the farmer and the soldier and all the others heard what had happened, they gathered around the spot in the road where the stone had been. They scratched at the dust with their feet, hoping to turn up a piece of gold.
"My friends," said the king, "We often find obstacles and burdens in our way. We may complain out loud while we walk around them if we choose, or we can lift them and find out what they mean. Disappointment is usually the price of laziness."  Then the wise king mounted his horse and, with a polite, "Good evening," rode away.

A Note from Bubbe Sharon

sharon2I hope you all enjoyed reading the The Stone in the Road above.  Now, the question is, which stone are you willing to move out of the road?  What makes you angry?  What makes you sad?  What propels you to take action to relieve a community or world problem?  Does the stone you will move have to do with poverty, environment, illness, disabilities, literacy, animals, children, elderly, abuse, or something else?  How would you start?  Our tradition tells us it is not our job to finish the task but we cannot desist from being part of the solution.  Here are a few stories about people who made changes; who picked up a stone in the middle of the road and moved it.

The stone one man picked up was righteousness.  Lisa and Aaron Derman were saved by a righteous gentile during the Holocaust.    He did not think about consequences when he pulled them onto a train.  That man had no choice but to help another human being.  And when asked about it after the war, he said he did not do anything special, just what every human being should have done. 

The stone another man picked up was poverty.  At age 12, Trevor Farrell just wanted to bring a blanket to a poor person that he saw lying on the street and could not stand it. He begged his parents until they helped. Trevor Farrell went around the country teaching people to help the poor.  Now there exists Trevor’s Place, an emergency and transitional facility for homeless mothers and children in Philadelphia.

And then there are the small but transformative stones that quietly affect so many,  but they are much quieter.

The stone one woman picked up was the lack of quality education.  Florence E. Scully was my father's sixth grade teacher.  My father was often delinquent from school—he hated it.  She turned him around and he became a lawyer and CPA because of her.  And although he suffered from dementia in his old age and forgot many, many things, if you asked him, "Who was your favorite teacher," he would answer,  Florence E. Scully,  S.C.U.L.L.Y.”  People can leave lasting impressions through the service they do for others.

I pray that this coming year brings all of you peace, satisfaction and fulfillment, and that together we can move MANY stones off the road. Thanks and good luck.

Sharon Morton

Legacy -- a poem

I think I gave you
all the wisdom I
have to give
when you were one or two
and you sat
curled in the crook
of my arm/
the little golden book
suspended between us
with its old fashioned picture
of a blue train engine
chugging endlessly
up an impossible mountain
the universe asks
because there is need/
and the pompous refuse
and the powerful decline
but You can. can.
-Ilene Milman

Directing our Deeds -- by Darcy Lessel

FruitsThis September, we both end our annual reading of the Torah and begin it again. In Ha’azinu, the last portion of the Torah that was read on Shabbat just after Rosh Hashana, G-d teaches us to be careful to use all our attributes and traits in only positive ways. By looking both within and to our accomplishments to recognize our intrinsic talents, we uncover skills that reflect who we really are and can be used to make a powerful difference to others. Through awareness and honest evaluation of both ways we can improve in the coming year as well as our positive traits and attributes, we can ensure that we use our strengths for good, to benefit others.

Many simple assessments are available to help us uncover our personal attributes, styles and behavioral traits. Some connect us to particular colors, while others associate us with particular fruits (and for children, a simpler version). Whether we identify ourselves as red, blue, green or yellow, or as (autonomous) apples, (brainy) bananas, (significant) strawberries or (good) grapes, tools such as these help identify our capabilities, preferences and types of giving that will match the giver and help the recipients.

As a perfectionist who is direct, outspoken and high spirited, I connect primarily with the color red in the survey above. I learned that people who are red make effective leaders and know how to use ideas and establish effective systems to work toward goals and achievements. Interestingly I’m a teacher (of gifted students), and I create curriculums and units of study that help elementary children build toward meaningful learning, projects and presentations. As part of my personal giving to others, I volunteer my time to teach religious school students each week.

I’m also a banana, who can be counted on to be discreet and direct while needing time, focus upon details, and use of reason. These attributes can help to direct me to additional types of social action. I have organized a “kiddush club” to help raise tzedakah (donations) for Kiddush luncheons, and as part of a local “Jewish visiting circle”, my daughter and I have visited elderly and ill patients in their homes as well as in hospitals. Sharing conversation, stories, (holiday) cards and time are extremely valuable and appreciated! There are many visiting programs for the elderly that may have programs for the upcoming holidays; visit to look for organizations nearby. If there are no established groups, feel free to start one! Shopping for or with those in need and giving your service to people who are lonely are important examples of bikur cholim. Cooking meals and extending invitations to share holiday celebrations with those who may not have family or friends nearby demonstrates chesed (kindness) as well as g’milut chasidim. The holiday of Sukkot is a perfect time to invite fellow Jews into our sukkahs to share the holiday and mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah, as well as the shaking of lulav and esrog! By using our talents to perform positive accomplishments and help others, we will continue to perform tikun olam (repairing the world), from strength to strength!

Invaluable Lesson by Rabbi Naomi Levy

webheader-2010cMake sure to read an excellent piece by Rabbi Naomi Levy on surpassing expectations and facing challenges we face every day.  Her piece can be found on "Jewels of Elul", an amazing collection of inspiarational writings put assembled by Jewish musician Craig Taubman.  Click here to read Invaluable Lesson.... we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

New Ideas for a New Year from Sharon Halper

food-photoMonthly GSA contributor Sharon Halper gives us a guide about the food we eat and its significance for social action.  Click here to read Sharon's latest guide!


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Grandparents for Social Action
Grandparents for Social Action
840 Vernon Ave
Glencoe, Illinois 60022

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