Amidst all the darkness that seems to be billowing all over the universe at the moment, there are still so many beams of light. I got sent one of them this morning, when an email landed in my inbox telling me about a new initiative by something called ‘The Greybeard Experience’.
“What the heck is the ‘The Greybeard Experience’?!” I wondered, as I read the following email:
The last few days have been a very tense time here in Eretz Yisrael. Our southern neighbors were on the recipient end of almost 500 rockets from Gaza, courtesy of Iran. B”H, we were witness to many miracles, but nevertheless, Jews in southern Israel were terrified, enduring sleepless nights in bomb shelters with their frightened children. For the time being, things have quieted down, and may it continue permanently.
The events of the last few days are evident that we are living in very dangerous times. We are threatened on all borders, and the tense quiet could change very quickly, bringing us to a national emergency, chas v’shalom.
As we saw in the last Lebanon war, the launching of missiles at the civilian population led to a situation whereby the residents of the north were forced to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere. At that time we saw the abundant chesed of the Jewish people as Jews from all over the country opened their homes to families in need.
We hope and pray that such a scenario never occurs again, but events of the last few days are evidence that it could indeed happen again with little advance notice. Therefore, The Greybeard Experience would like to launch Operation Sleep Tight. The purpose of this initiative would be to collect a database of people would are willing and able to provide temporary shelter in their homes for fellow Jews who may need to leave their homes in a time of national emergency. If this situation should occur, this database could be immediately available to facilitate the rapid temporary re-location of those needing shelter.
If you would be interested in providing shelter in times of a national crisis, please write us at email@example.com and simply write Operation Sleep Tight in the subject line. We will then send you a very easy to fill out questionnaire to access your contact information and ascertain the number of people you could temporarily accommodate in your home. By participating in this initiative, you are not making a commitment…only the opportunity to participate if the need arises.
Tziku l’mitzvos and we hope that we will never need to call upon you.
It’s amazing, isn’t it, that the more we Jews are squeezed (at least in Israel…) the more the love and the achdut and the caring starts to ooze out of us. I was very impressed by this initiative, so much so, that I wanted to find out a little more about the people behind it. And also, to answer the burning question: ‘What the heck is The Greybeard Experience?!’
So I got in touch with Moshe Zelig (aka Robert), who is the organization co-founder, and here’s what I discovered. Moshe Zelig and his wife moved to Israel from Atlanta in 2009. Around five years ago, he partnered up with Yosef Jason, who’d made Aliyah from London in 2006, to create a new group of English-speaking, 55+ orthodox Jews who love touring around the land of Israel, meeting different Jews and trying to make a difference, in their own small way.
As word of these strange ‘Greybeards’ spread, all sorts of people around the country started signing up for their tiyulim and day trips, and today, more than 850 people are on their mailing list, in Jerusalem, Beitar, Netanya, RBS – and also abroad, in the US, UK and South Africa.
I have to say, usually I’m not so excited about the prospect of getting older (although as my husband likes to say, it always beats the alternative). But when I was reading through the Greybeard bumpf, I started to think that finally, there’s a silver lining to becoming a ‘senior’ (other than the obvious silver lining that you’re not dead.)
I popped an email over to Moshe Zelig, to learn a bit more, and here’s what he told me:
“We cater to the religious community, and we’ve designed our tiyulim to try to hit the perfect balance between ruchnius and gashmius. Over the years, we’ve expanded our programming to include dinners, concerts, lectures, and some other interesting things, too.”
Ok, great – but what about the name? What the heck is ‘The Greybeard Experience?’ I wanted to know.
Moshe told me: “In jest, I called ourselves “Greybeards” and much to our surprise, the name stuck and lo and behold, we were branded! We are very relaxed and were able to calm down the very few women who objected to the name.”
I’ll say. There’s nothing like being a senior women with a greybeard. Such thoughts keep us maturing ladies up at night.
So that, in a nutshell, is who the Greybeard Experience is, and a little bit of what they are trying to do, to bring more Jews together, and to spread more light in this time of growing darkness. You can find out more about The Greybeard Experience – and register to give some poor, rocket-weary folks from the South a place to stay – at their website.
But with Chanuka just around the corner, this is why Jews are compared to olives: the harder we’re squeezed, the more all the good stuff comes pouring out.
Check out the Greybeard’s website at: www.TheGreybeardExperience.com.