A Night Out With Old Jewish Men
Rabbi Taneh Klein of the Orthodox Jewish Institute of Los Angeles is known for his ability to play the role of a sweet grandmother: He does not hold back as he looks into one of his guests’ eyes and finds, “The love that comes there,” and then says, “He’s my friend.”
In this case, however, Rabbi Klein’s subject was Rabbi Chaim of Los Angeles, a retired rabbi who has been an active member in many organizations, including the United Nations, and who, as he aged, felt increasingly lonely.
He is a big man who stands 6 feet, 6 inches and weighs well over 300 pounds, a large man who has been known to break into barks when he is not pleased with the treatment he is receiving from his fellow men. He has been known to lash out, though, and his actions are often violent.
Rabbi Chaim, now 82, is one of six men who found themselves together in a room where the topic of the conversation was a group of old men who had been raised in the Jewish faith and had fallen through the cracks of life. Rabbi Chaim and his friends – also rabbis who had also been raised Jewish – had been raised in a home where prayer was part of the family’s prayer life. For the six, the opportunity to discuss their past, present, and future was welcomed. It wasn’t long before the group was drawn into an intimate conversation about life and death and the challenges of being the first born, both as a child and as an adult in the Jewish community.
“After we were finished talking, he said, ‘You know, this is a group who have lost many years of their life, and I’m glad to be able to do anything with them because it’s great to talk with