Sunday, April 8, 2012

Seniors Make Their Own Western Wall

Jewish Housing Council
Sarasota, Florida

Some of you may have participated in this wonderful event, and I wanted to share a bit about what we all accomplished last September. Here’s some background:

The Program

Just in time for Rosh HaShanah 5772, I organized a campus-wide initiative to bring senior residents of Kobernick House, family members and staff together to create a replica of Jerusalem’s Western Wall. Residents and their family members appreciated the opportunity that the replica Wall provided: it allowed them to experience symbolically one of the most sacred Jewish sites.

Some of you have asked how was the wall constructed.

Credit: Jesse Smith
The Wall itself was constructed from a collection of nearly 75 shoeboxes, donated in large part by staff. Latex paint formed the base coat, applied by the residents in the Memory Support wing. Other residents were in charge of stippling the latex-covered shoeboxes. Sponge pieces were the tool for this part of the process. Independent living residents took charge with the detailed work, adding gold glitter to the “stones,” representing the golden sunlight that often shines on the original Wall. Kobernick Maintenance staff, Activity Directors and I affixed the shoebox “stones” with aerosol glue to large sheets of the plywood.

And then the moment arrived! As the Kotel took shape against a wall outside of our “shul,” residents and staff added the finishing touches – artificial greens and hanging branches as well as real Florida Spanish moss!


The Impact

When Rosh HaShanah arrived, the Wall was in place. Spotlights illuminated the area and shone off each uniquely crafted stone.  A small table placed near the wall held pens, paper and tape so that anyone could write a prayer or message and literally place it between our “stones.”

As residents and their families arrived for High Holy Day and throughout the High Holy Day cycle, many took time to visit the Wall – to talk together, to reflect and even to point with pride to “my stone – the one I made myself!” 

Women of the Wall members in Jerusalem
By creating a replica Wall, we were able to offer a unique experience and a special place for the local community to share their individual prayers and notes. But these prayers went beyond the replica Wall. After Simchat Torah, the Wall was dismantled and the prayers sent to Jerusalem where members of the organization, “Women of the Wall,” lovingly placed each of the nearly 200 prayers directly into the real Kotel.

Here’s a note from our wonderful contact in Jerusalem, Molly Livingstone:

“I just wanted you to know that the Women of the Wall have placed your notes written by your seniors. We feel honored to have placed these notes in the wall for you and hope you find the pictures as a token of our appreciation…”.

Thank you, Molly. It was a real gift to have Women of the Wall be a part of this collaborative experience!
If you’re interested in reading more about the event, and to see more photos please check out the linked news articles here and on my website.

Chag Sameach, Everyone!

1 comment:

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