Community Contact Information:
Temple Shaaray Tefila
New York, NY
- Provide warmth and friendship to elderly local Jews.
- Develop intergenerational bonds within the Jewish community.
- Engage congregants in an easy act with a big impact.
After Shabbat services, congregants gather in the social hall to pack care packages for local Jewish seniors. This grass-roots project is primarily an outreach effort to Jewish seniors, but also serves as a means for outreach to interested volunteers.
Names of seniors are obtained from area social service agencies or by referral to the rabbi or other staff members. Kesher is funded by a grant from the Madeline and Julian Wallerstein Geriatric Foundation which pays for packaged goods, part-time help with the social services program, and administrative costs.
On Friday evenings, before Shabbat services, volunteers set up tables of goods. After services end, the entire congregation enters the social hall and each person takes a shopping bag and moves down the rows of tables, packing bags in assembly-line fashion. Students from the religious school make holiday cards for the bags. Volunteers deliver bags to seniors.
The Kesher program runs a twice-monthly Caregivers Support Group for people caring for an aging or ill spouse or parent. The program also provides a monthly support group for the recently bereaved.
The program initially served 40-50 seniors, but has grown to over 120. Volunteers are mostly congregants, but membership is not a requirement. As a result, many people drawn in as volunteers have gone on to join the temple. Volunteers have established ongoing personal links with 80 seniors. Ongoing relationships yield wonderful results and bring to both seniors and volunteers alike a sense of helping someone, of healing, in a difficult world.