Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jewish Seniors Reach out to Jewish Soldiers

Senior Citizens, some nearly 100 years old, work in tandem with Project M.O.T. to create handmade Rosh HaShanah greetings and Chanukah menorahs, as well as 24 handmade seder plates and hand sewn matzah covers. These items were sent to Jewish soldiers who serve our country in Iraq and Afghanistan so that our heroes could have the opportunity to celebrate the Jewish holidays. “Our Jewish soldiers need you,” was our message as we explained to our ALF residents that their participation would fulfill a real need. 

The Rabbi working with Anchin Resident, Dorothy Union.
As the daughter of an American liberator of the Buchenwald camp, and a former national chaplain of Bugles Across America, I’ve had life experiences related to the work of the military. Through this involvement I was able to contact Project MOT co-directors, Marsha Roseman and Joan Rimmon to ask how our seniors, many of whom are WW II veterans, could help our Jewish men and women in uniform – especially those who currently serve in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

At Roseman and Rimmon’s direction,
the seniors created personalized messages for Rosh HaShanah, “chanukiyot” for the Festival of Lights and, to fulfill a special request by Project MOT, the seniors created hand made seder plates, hand sewn matzah covers and Elijah and Miriam Cups for Jewish soldiers serving in desert outposts.

Vets as Volunteers

Volunteers look on as an Anchin resident designs her cup.
The project’s success was due in large part to the dedication of volunteers who assisted seniors in organizing their materials, decorating and applying glue and writing personalized messages.  And, since the project was directly connected to soldiers, Jewish veterans were invited to assist the residents. 

In addition to the hands-on help that the veterans gave to residents, these brave men and women also engaged residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia in conversation and encouraged them to speak about theirs or their spouse’s military service.     

What Did the Soldiers Say?

The letters from soldiers demonstrated how touched they were to know that seniors, some as old as their great grandparents, took the time to remember them. And our seniors, many of whom are veterans of the Greatest Generation, saw first hand how their efforts contributed to the emotional health of our men and women in uniform.   

The letters we received were heartwarming and demonstrated to our seniors how very valuable their work really was. Take a look at the two we've featured below:

Dear Friends,
I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful Hanukkah package I received this year.  This year for Hanukkah I got to go to Kandahar Air Field (the largest base in the area) for the first night.  It was the first time I had seen other Jewish soldiers since the High Holy Days.  It was obviously nice to see them all again and light the candles. Anyway, thanks again for your help and support.  

I really do appreciate all the thoughts. Take care. 
Sincerely, LT Joel, Kandahar City, Afghanistan

Sarah Judah, soldier in Afghanistan.
Hello! This is Sarah Judah from Afghanistan. I got a care package today and I wanted to say thank you so much! Is there anyway to send my thanks to everyone who donated? I attached a picture I would like to send to the Kobernick House and Anchin Pavilion along with my thanks. A Happy Passover to everyone!

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