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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Fri, 28 Mar 1997 13:09:19 -0500 Subject: RE: Synagogue Travesty I just read Chaiim Shapiro's shocking description of throwing an alzheimer person out of a synagogue because of noises he made. I would like to offer my support for his shock with 4 midrashic/halachic/legal references 1) A famous verse in Proverbs states: "He who closes his ears from the screams of a poor person, even his prayers are an abomination." The application of this verse in this situation is straightforward. 2) The Biblical Prohibition (Lev 19) of "..showing cordiality to the face of an elder" seems to me to apply even if the elderly person is sick (Analogous references to "elder and sick" occur in halachic commentaries on Lev 1). If anyone has sources on this it would be appreciated 3) When I was a little boy we had an alzheimer person in our synagogue...he would always literally scream the first verse of Shema. Everyone in our synagogue including of course the Rabbi treated this person with sympathy and respect. No one ever suggested throwing him out or even talking to him 4) My brother, a Judge in the Israeli court system had a case a few years ago in which elderly (wo)men were being pushed down to take their pocketbooks. A case came before my brother. He passed down the harshest sentence possible. Maariv, an Israeli newspaper cited him as saying "The Bible says to STAND up before the elderly and these criminals are doing the exact opposite of PUSHING THEM DOWN." My brother told me that you could hear a pin drop when he said this in court and passed sentence. Furthermore, this type of crime stopped after this sentence. So in summary, I agree wholehearetdly with Chaim; his shock is fully consistent with our tradition. As my brother's case shows if harsh measures are taken against the perpetrators of these deeds perhaps it will stop. Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d. ASA; rhendel @ mcs drexel edu