We are happy to have gerontologist, Rakel Berenbaum, as part of our Mitzvot Unplugged series, writing about a creative program which both teaches the value of Chesed and of valuing our elders.
Melabev Beit Shemesh has created two unique programs, one for bnot mitzvah and a bar mitzvah program. Both combine the joy of an upcoming bar or bat-mitzvah with the opportunity to actively express the attribute of chesed and start their lives of being performers of mitzvot.
Melabev’s Bat-Mitzvah Meals on Wheels Program and Tzippy Tokayer z”l Bar Mitzvah Program were designed to provide food to needy or homebound elders in a personal, interactive way that benefits both the young and the old. The senior recipients enjoy both the tasty home-cooked food and the company of the children who carefully prepare and deliver the meals. The children, many of whom left behind beloved grandparents when they made aliyah, gain an opportunity to connect with and learn about the elderly. What could be more befitting for both the elderly within our community and bnei-mitzvah beginning their lives as spiritual Jewish men and women?
Other features of the program have included a trip to Leket, Ichlu Reim Soup Kitchen, a performance at Melabev day care center and the Blind Institute, visits to Yad Eliezer, distribution of gifts to children of Shalva, baking for soldiers and delivery to the Pina Chama and working with Melabev elders to create care packages for worked together with the seniors to make care packages for needy teenagers.
The program has received much positive feedback from parents and participants. Some of the feedback:
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mira and Shoshana for all their hard work in organizing an amazing bar mitzvah program. I feel that during the year in which we are preparing our boys to becoming a bar mitzvah we tend to focus on their layning and learning for a siyum. We tend to ignore the most important part which is teaching them the middah of chessed, of giving and helping. This program truly taught our boys incredible middot. On a personal level, my son Tzviki is very shy. It was wonderful seeing him open up and dancing for the people of Melabev or talking to people at the maon haivrim. He came home talkative and looking forward to the next day. Kol hakavod to the wonderful counselors, Eitan and Zevi. Thank you again.” The Novicks
“It was a lot of fun to work together with my friends… And when we did good for other people, it felt good for us!“Emma
“Yedidya’s bar-mitzvah is in a few weeks, and I can’t think of anything more meaningful for him to have done this summer. It complements his extra learning (and yes, lots of magic) and I think he learned a lot about what is takes to enter נועם עול המצוות (acceptance of mitzvot) with a big stress on ואהבת לרעך כמוך (loving your friend like yourself.)
A big yasher koach to Shoshana, Mira, Eitan, Zevi and the whole staff. I encourage you to do this again for boys.”
“I was a little nervous to deliver the food in the beginning. Some of the people looked really old. But it turned out to be so nice. I would definitely tell other girls to join this program.” Nechama
For more information about the program melabev.shemesh at gmail.com or 02-999-4258
Photos courtesy: Melabev
Rakel Berenbaum has a B.Ed in education and Judaic studies and an M.A. in gerontology. She has been involved in informal education and has over 30 years experience in the field of aging. She has developed learning materials to teach about aging, including editing three books on dementia care. She also writes a weekly cooking column called Portion on the Portion for the OU’s Torah Tidbits, about the weekly Torah portion and recipes.
Since 1981 Melabev has helped thousands of families by provided a range of services including a network of day centers and memory clubs for the elderly with Alzheimer’s symptoms, support services for family caregivers, and home care & home hospice. Melabev’s Savion is an original software program for stimulating memory skills.