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Kever Avot: Visiting the Graves of Our Loved Ones

Congregants organized visits to local cemeteries for seniors who wished to visit the graves of their loved ones.

Community Contact Information:
Temple Israel
West Bloomfield, MI
http://temple-israel.org

Goals: 

  • Allow elderly members of the community a chance to visit the graves of their loved ones. 
  • Engage congregants in helping members of the community in a personal way. 
  • Develop inter-generational connections within the larger community.

Overview:
On the Sunday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, volunteers accompany residents of area old-age homes to the graves of their loved ones.

Preparation:
Volunteers are recruited, air-conditioned tour buses (with bathrooms) are hired, the cemeteries are informed about which graves to mark and golf-carts are secured for difficult to access gravesites, and stones, tissues, snacks, hand-wipes, and booklets of appropriate prayers are prepared. The costs for the program in its first year totaled $2,500, and increased each year as the number of participants grew. Costs were offset by a partnership with a local funeral home which sponsored the program.

Project Implementation:
On the morning of the program, volunteers gather and are given a written outline of the logistics of the day as well as the name of their new "friend." The volunteers remain in contact with the old-age home via cell phone throughout the day.

Results:
In addition to the direct service provided, new friendships formed between volunteers and residents. These friendships have developed in the months since the program, as volunteers visited with their new friends and took them shopping.

This program received a Fain Award in 1999.