Kesher 13 is an award winning (Goodman Award 2007) intergenerational program in partnership with metrowest area Temples. Through Kesher 13, pre-b’nai mitzvah youth and their families connect with Jewish elders who are geographically dispersed in multiple non-Jewish facilities where they are a minority within the institutions. It provides an opportunity to educate youth and families about aging within a Jewish context and the importance of community. It also helps youth to understand and embrace their responsibility to Tikkun Olam. This intergenerational program allows youth and families to feel that they help Jewish elders by sharing celebrations with them and allows elders to feel that they help youth and families by sharing memories of Jewish traditions and values that they can transmit to the next generation. Kesher 13 reduces isolation and builds community for all participants on multiple levels.
Kesher 13 participant, Andrew, and his grandfather, John, discuss the importance of volunteering.
Why did you choose to participate in the Kesher 13 program?
John: I got the information at the training & we all thought it would be interesting. Andrew has a great grandmother in a local nursing home and we thought it would make him feel more comfortable.
Andrew: I wanted to help out.
Tell me a little bit about what you did as a Kesher 13 volunteer?
Andrew: I helped elders with their prayers and boosted their faith.
John: We shared our time, learning of their experiences and making friends.
How did the residents react to having you there?
Andrew: They were happy to see someone my age because it makes them feel better to see someone younger.
John: Anita fell in love with Andrew.
What did you learn through this experience?
Andrew: Patience. Because I’m not really good at that.
John: Better understanding of & respect for elders.
Has it changed how you feel about visiting with your great-grandmother?
Andrew: Yes. Now I want to visit, and it made me want to stay longer when we go.
Why is volunteering important?
John: It’s a mitzvah to make others happier. Just think if the roles were reversed. You’d want someone to visit you. I really enjoyed visiting with Andrew, hearing their experiences and getting to know them. I’m almost one of them!
Andrew: It’s pretty cool!
What would you tell people who are considering becoming a volunteer? How does it feel to be able to help someone?
Andrew: It’s a fun experience to do things that make the elders happy. It also helps you learn the prayers. It makes you feel good.
What are your future volunteering plans?
Andrew: To go back and help with the services.
John: It’s just a small piece of your life that you share that makes such a big difference.