Temple Sholom Holds Luncheon for Seniors

By Chéye Roberson
Sentinel Correspondent

L’dor V’dor means “generation-to-generation” in Hebrew. It was the central theme for a luncheon held for seniors at Temple Sholom on Feb. 28.

Over 80 seniors came from across Greenwich as well as from Manhattan. Children from the Learning Center, the religious school of Temple Sholom which instructs pre-kindergarten through seventh grades, helped guests to their seats as they entered the temple’s dining hall, then served food and refreshments.

The event was organized by Yoni Nadiv, youth director at Temple Sholom; along with Rina Bergman, Sarah Krinsky, and Daniel Novick; all of whom are attending rabbinical school and working at Temple Sholom for the year.

According to Nadiv, the overall purpose of the event was to give back to the community across generations and for young people to learn from their elders. The youngsters were given cards with questions as suggested conversation starters. Nadiv noted that as many of the seniors are immigrants it adds to the significance of their conversations. “It is important for kids to learn where they come from and important to stress through these events,” he said.

Those participating described it as a positive experience. “It’s really fun,” said 12-year-old volunteer Caroline DesChamps. “I like talking to them and when they tell their stories it’s really cool learning what they did.”

Nadiv said that he hopes the Learning Center students will gain social skills from initiating conversation with their elders.

“We know they can be intimidated,” he said. “Hopefully, giving them a task to do will give them confidence.”

The seniors also expressed appreciation, both for the event and the interaction.

“It’s so nice,” said Laura Logan, a Greenwich senior in attendance. “They’re just precious. I can’t believe they’re so well-behaved – and the entertainment was great.”

There was an open-microphone session in which some attendees read poems, sang songs, and played the piano.

One of the older volunteers, Marcelle Sands, shared reports she received from the attendees: “They said they were so thrilled with the kids and they were so nice. It was wonderful.”

Most of the seniors came from Project Ezra, a non-profit organization serving the elderly in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The organization provides a variety of services to a largely homebound population. Project Ezra is a standalone organization which does not receive government funds but instead depends on donations known in the Jewish community as tzedakah, signifying a justice-driven charitable impulse by the community at large.

“Project Ezra is a social-work organization that has been around for over 40 years working with the Jewish elders of the Lower East Side of Manhattan,” said David Kanowitz, a case worker for Project Ezra.

Project Ezra takes trips to different synagogues in the area every other week. Kanowitz said they look forward to visiting Temple Sholom.

“Even though Temple Sholom is one of the further trips we have – the people, entertainment, food, and everything else makes it worth it,” said Kanowitz.

A social worker for Project Ezra, Dalia Abott, said it is important to take these trips for the seniors’ well-being:

“I think a lot of our seniors are isolated and it’s great to have an event where they get to socialize together. We use socialization and interaction – that’s our therapy. It’s a great way to battle isolation and makes living at home doable.”

Nadiv said they try to do character-building events with the Learning Center students throughout the year to “teach them the value of what they are learning.”

Another organizer, Sarah Krinsky said the youth are enthusiastic about helping out.

“It’s amazing to watch how into it they’ve been getting,” she said. “I’ve known these kids for a while and they really step up in so many ways. It’s inspiring to see.”

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