No More Lines for Elderly, Says New Law

An elderly man crosses the street in Tel Aviv. May 20, 2009. Photo by Serge Attal/Flash 90 *** Local Caption *** ???? ????? ???? ??? ???? ???? ??? ????? ??????? ?? ????
An elderly man crosses the street in Tel Aviv. (Serge Attal/Flash90)

By Dror Halavy

YERUSHALAYIM – A new law makes it easier for senior citizens to navigate the often endless lines that patrons of government offices face. Individuals 80 years old and more will no longer have to wait for service; under a law passed on its second and third reading, seniors 80 and above will be moved to the front of the line, without having to wait their turn.

In essence, the law just formalizes an arrangement that was already in effect at many government offices and private institutions, such as banks. Israelis in general are deferential to the elderly, and it is quite common for offices of all types to invite a very old person to take their turn immediately – usually without any protest from others who are waiting as well. In many offices, there is also a formal procedure for moving the elderly to the front of the line.

The law will apply to banks, post offices, stadiums, nature reserves and supermarkets. The law allows for the minister of elderly affairs to add venues as needed.

Gila Gamliel, the current minister, said that “this law is needed to remind ourselves as a society of the proper relationship with the elderly. This kind of respect for the elderly is something that should obligate us even without a law, but with the law in place, I expect that this will become second nature to everyone.

“There is no one in Israel who has not come across the embarrassing phenomena of elderly people forced to wait in long lines,” Gamliel added. “The Torah’s injunction, ‘You shall rise before an old person and respect the elderly,’ must be the watchword of a healthy society that knows how to respect and honor its elders. Allowing them to ‘jump the line’ is the least we can do.”