Columns - 2005

    Senior tour

    By Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    We are gathered here today, around this very newspaper, to pay respect to a large and often under-appreciated segment of our population.

    These people are ever-present in more areas of society than can be counted by most Auburn graduates. Their value is incalculable, especially with an abacus. Though, frankly, I'm not sure too many know how to use one these days.

    They're everywhere. They play an integral part in our culture, are vital to our future regardless of how much time they have left ahead of them, and are key not only to Jewish life, but to society as a whole. After all, without them, where would we be?

    And, let's face it, most all of us will have been part of their demographic before we're done.

    I'm speaking, of course, about seniors. So let's take a senior moment and join in acknowledging them here and now... Wait... acknowledging who?

    It is also appropriate for us to now recognize them in the manner first used by the ancient Jews of Australia, and shout a hearty, "Oy, there!"

    Regardless of whatever role they've played in the past, seniors are essential to our future, and an important part of our present. They're also often important givers of presents.

    So, for a few hundred words, lets look more closely at seniors and the varied essential roles they play.

    Seniors are role models. We aspire to be just like them, to make it as far as they do, and to be within a stone's throw of graduation just like they are. For three years, sometimes more, we wait for the chance to search for jobs, apply for graduate schools, leave our legacy on Hillel House/TownHouse/Dorm/Student-Union-Space/Near-Campus-Rented-Office leadership, and to take one last chance to date an eighteen year old without being labeled a cradle robber.

    (Well, the sophomores and juniors, often in fits of jealousy, might use that label. But you're graduating and they've got years left of late night fries and later night pizza, so what do you care?)

    Were these not the seniors you were thinking of? You might have been thinking of seniors barely able to drive who, sadly, statistically cause a great number of the accidents on the roads today. Seniors who can hardly afford to even buy a new car.

    Yet somehow they find themselves driving to their own SAT exams while the parents sleep in. Or driving to their own proms, or even to their own USY events.

    Of course, there are those who are hunched over from exhaustion, having shouldered the burdens of their generations. Their destinies are determined and their will to work minimized by a desire to kick back and enjoy the time they have left before they become a part of whatever comes next. These weary seniors slump like no other until they move on.

    Perhaps you're waiting for an obvious shout out to our senior residents? They've labored many years to get where they are, often with much ridicule, little sleep, and even less recognition.

    And, while stereotypes would indicate many more of them would be Jewish, there's hardly ever been a Jewish doctor on ER. Talk about an under-represented minority. And I will...

    Speaking of being under-represented, or stereotypically misportrayed, we come to the most obvious segment of seniors in our populace. But this time, so many of them are actually presented as Jewish, perhaps too much so.

    They are the wisened, those who provide counsel. Those who perhaps don't aspire to be "the guy", but who aspire to be "the guy who the guy depends on."

    Even on The West Wing, two of the senior counsels to the President are quite obviously Jewish. Though the one from Brooklyn once said of the one from Connecticut that, "there's a word the ancient Hebrews used to describe Jews from Westport. It's 'Presbyterian'."

    All humor aside, which might not be too difficult so far, there's a tremendous and increasing populace of seniors. They're in it for the long haul. They've proven their merit, grit, loyalty, affection, and determination for years. Even decades.

    They persevere, hoping that someday they will finally be granted the meager privilege that they've always sought, that their entire lives have been built toward. And for which even their lifestyles have taken a continual beating. Waiting for the one day when they can be recognized by the legal world, and given all the rights and benefits taken for granted by so many others, as a senior partner.

    And let's remember that there are seniors not just here, but throughout the world. They come in all shapes, sizes, and denominations. For example, the Catholic Church (tm) has a litany of monsignors. And, in French synagogues, there is always an ubiquitous presence of a man who ensures the success and decorum of every daily minyan, the minsignor.

    Finally, and I'm sure you've all been waiting for this, we must acknowledge the largest bastion of this realm of society: the Senior Center. Certainly, this edifice needs no introduction. Across the nation, and around the world, thousands upon thousands flock together. They congregate, they adulate, and they enervate.

    They even look up what those words mean, because they have a few extra minutes as they wait for that all too brief time, their moment in the sun with (whether or not you harbor any liking for), the Senior Center.

    Yes, as amazing as it is, people still flock to one of the elder statesmen of the paint on the hardwood: the senior center, who was never even a sophomore, Shaquille O'Neal.

    Doug Brook is a senior technical writer in Silicon Valley whose fresh, sophomoric perspective is junior to no other. If you want to be able to tell him "I've seen your more information, past columns, and other writings, theatre, and current events," visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.