Seniors waiting for a ride

Now that summer and the High Holidays are over, the Jewish community’s calendar is filled with a variety of events, from a book fair and music festival to guest speakers and classes. But there is one component that our community is seriously lacking, which became clear to me last week after the Great Arizona Challah Bake.

After the hundreds of women had gone home with their braided challah dough, there was one older woman sitting alone on a bench in the lobby of the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus. Although I didn’t know her, I recognized her from my synagogue so I stopped to say hello. She mentioned that she was waiting for Dial-a-Ride and that the driver should arrive any minute.

In the approximately 20 minutes it took for the shuttle to arrive, I learned that this waiting had become a way of life for her. She had arrived at the campus around 5 – registration started at 6 – and at this point, it was about 10:30 p.m.
“This is my life,” she told me, without a trace of resentment. “What else am I going to do?”

She said she lives in Phoenix and enjoys attending the different Jewish community events and doesn’t have any other way of getting there. She already had Dial-a-Ride transportation scheduled for that Saturday night so she could attend the community Havdalah concert at Horizon High School in Scottsdale. She was planning to arrive around two hours before the concert’s 7:30 p.m. start time and be picked up around 10/10:30 p.m.

It’s not a secret that transportation is a big issue when it comes to seniors and not a surprise that the Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix’s senior services study identified senior transportation as one of its top three priorities.  It’s also great to hear that one of the fellows from the Valley Beit Midrash’s Start Me Up! fellowship also plans to work on a senior program that includes transportation.

I hope these programs receive the community’s support so that these important members of our community don’t have to wait any longer.

Leisah Woldoff is managing editor of Jewish News.

No football on Yom Kippur?

I was bowled over this morning to hear a Channel 12 announcer say that high school football games in the Valley had been played last night rather than tonight out of respect for Yom Kippur. Normally, all high school games are played on Friday nights.

Looking at the schedule of the Arizona Interscholastic Association, that appeared to be true, so I called the AIA for confirmation. The way it works, said Brian Bolitho, the AIA’s director of business media, is that when it sets athletic schedules (not just for football, but for all high school sports), it blacks out certain holidays, including the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, Good Friday through Easter AND Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  When it comes to football, if those Jewish holidays fall on a Friday, AIA does indeed schedule the games for those weeks on a Thursday, Bolitho confirmed. “The schools have the option of rescheduling,” he said, but most of them follow the AIA’s lead.

This is well worth of note, a sign – during a time when concerns about anti-Semitism are high – that at least some of our neighbors want the norm to be respectful and accepting of us.

I can’t speak for our community, but I would certainly hope that some of the leadership of the Jewish community here would step up and thank the schools that were respectful of the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, allowing Jewish players and fans alike to attend this week’s games without having to make a choice. Perhaps someday all games would be played on Thursdays to avoid the avoid the conflict with Shabbat, but I think we should honor a step in the right direction.

Ultimately, with forethought, it’s easy to schedule games on a different day, but we can’t change the date of Yom Kippur.

– Salvatore Caputo