From Generation to Generation

by | Nov 21, 2016 | Other News

Learning from one another, some area seniors and teens have found that they may have more in common than they first imagined.

To enrich the lives of both teens and seniors by forming friendships, Ohef Sholom Temple applied for and received a two-year grant to fund a gap-bridging program for these two groups called Better Together. It is funded by a national foundation.

The program’s goal is not just to brighten the lives of seniors who benefit from the additional socialization with teens. Researchers at Hebrew University of Jerusalem surveyed more than 1,400 teenagers and found that those with close relationships with seniors had fewer emotional problems, better social skills and reduced tendencies toward violence and bullying.

About a dozen seniors from Beth Sholom Village have now met twice with the same number of teen teaching assistants or Madrichim, from Ohef Sholom Temple.

The first meeting, which took place with a Friday night Shabbat service and dessert at OST, was a big success. Teens and their families shared the service with BSV seniors, and were warmly welcomed by Rabbi Roz Mandleberg and temple congregants. Kristina Nash, a BSV employee who is not Jewish, attended the event and says the warmth she felt from being a part of the Shabbat service helped her better understand basic Jewish values.

The second meeting was a lunch and learn “ice breaker” at BSV, where groups of mixed ages shared stories about where they have lived and what accomplishments they are most proud of in their lives.

“Residents talked about it for days after,” says Josh Bennett, BSV recreation therapy director. “The senior participants are eager for the next meeting!”

“I thought it was great to learn their stories,” says Hailey Foer, a teen participant. “I thought it was wonderful,” says Sarah Friedman, another OST teen. “I’m getting to learn a lot from the past that I know nothing about.”

The teens will certainly learn more in the months to come, with six more lunch and learns, each with their own theme, and a final luncheon (complete with a video yearbook documenting the get-togethers) with family members at the end of the year.

Future topics will include sharing how the news was communicated 50 years ago versus today’s age of social media. Teens will also teach seniors how to use the Internet, from learning to order photos on Shutterfly, to posting on Facebook, to emailing friends and even Facetiming. Along the way, they will also work together creating art projects, sharing games and photos and planting a garden.

Paul Weiner, OSTY advisor, says, “From observing the first luncheon and talking to them after the event, teens enjoyed talking to the seniors and they are already looking forward to the next luncheon at Ohef Sholom Temple.”

Leslie Shrayer