August 27, 2014 · 1 Elul

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Program Ideas for Congregations and Youth

Below are a few ideas on how you can incorporate social action lifecycle programs into your Sukkot celebration. Additional programs can be found in the Social Action Program Bank.

Shared Care: Create an interfaith effort to provide day care services and for the frail and elderly. In Boca Raton, this project was co-sponsored by Temple Beth El, the First Presbyterian Church, and St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church. Trained volunteers ran the program. Activities include discussions, music, arts and crafts, and chair exercises. Once a month, the program becomes intergenerational, with the children of the Temple Beth El nursery school joining the elderly participants for arts and crafts or chair exercise games. All holidays and festivals are celebrated.

Phone Companions for Seniors: Sukkot is as an opportunity to reach out to the homebound members of our communities. Senior volunteers from Temple Shalom (Succasunna, NJ) and the surrounding community come together to make reassurance phone calls to the homebound elderly community, helping these individuals maintain their independence while giving them contact with the outside world.

Outreach to Seniors: Temple Shaaray Tefila's (New York, NY) Kesher Program is an outreach effort serving 120 Jewish seniors as well as engaging hundreds of synagogue volunteers. Before Friday evening Shabbat services, volunteers set up tables on which donated goods are set out. After services, volunteers take a shopping bag and moves down the rows of tables, packing the bags in assembly-line fashion. Cards made by students from the religious school are tied onto the bags with ribbon. The bags are then delivered by volunteers to seniors in the neighborhood. The Kesher Program also runs a Caregivers Support Group for people caring for an aging or ill spouse or parent as well as a monthly bereavement group.

Take a senior citizen to the polls: During an election year, Sukkot is a good time to focus energy for 'Get-Out-the-Vote' initiatives. There is a large constituency of homebound, sight-impaired, hearing-impaired and wheelchair-bound individuals who would gladly participate in the voting process if only it were made easier for them. Special arrangements may include rides to the polling place, changing individuals' polling locations to those that are more accessible, arranging for senior residences to become polling places, and curbside registration and/or voting. www.rac.org/vote.



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