Kesher Dorotainu Strives to Forge Connections Between Seniors, Religious School Students
To forge lasting connections between the temple's older and younger generations--two segments of the congregation that have much to offer each other but rarely have the opportunity to interact--a new program is underway, Kesher Dorotainu: Connecting the Generations. The program is part of an ongoing effort to build community that is inclusive and meaningful for people at all stages of life.
A new committee, formed under the auspices of Rabbi Susan Warshaw, the education director, and the Hineni Committee, includes parents with children in religious school and senior congregation members (loosely defined as those 65 years of age and up). More are welcome to participate.
As the first effort during Family School in November, a panel of five senior members shared personal stories with third, fourth and fifth graders about what it was like growing up Jewish in the 1920s and 1930s. These men and women were as eager and delighted--if not more so--to tell their stories and to relate their experiences as the students and parents were to listen to them (and to hear them speak Yiddish). In December, a group of seniors joined the sixth and seventh graders to talk about their experiences during World War II and the Holocaust.
The committee will meet with religious school teachers to create opportunities for seniors to become regular visitors to individual classrooms and to share both their knowledge and talents with the students. Depending on the grade's course of study, seniors might demonstrate how to make gefilte fish or matzah balls, read a holiday or Shabbat story and relate memories of their childhood, or talk to bar and bat mitzvah students about their own, very different ceremonies. The hope is that over time, friendships will form and gemilut chasidim, or acts of loving kindness, will follow naturally, such as an invitation to go to a family's home for Shabbat dinner or to take a senior member grocery shopping.
A letter will be mailed to all religious school families and senior members of the congregation explaining the initiative and asking both groups how they might like to be involved.
The Connecting the Generations committee plans to pair families of children in the Youth Choir with seniors on the first Friday night of each month in February, March, April and May when the choir is performing. Many seniors are unable to attend Kabbalat Shabbat services because they do not have a ride. The family would act as their host, giving them a ride to and from services and sharing the meal together in the social hall with other Youth Choir families, a mitzvah that would benefit both parties.
To participate in that activity or to join the committee, email Evelyn Sahr.
[By Karen Binswanger from January 2008 Vine]