JFCS Inaugurates Shabbos Friends

Jewish seniors are living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities scattered across Louisville Metro. Often they are one of very few Jews in a facility that offers little or no Jewish programming or worship services. While many families struggle with the day-to-day task of caring for their loved one, often Jewish traditions are not regularly kept.

Jewish teachings remind us to honor our elders. “Cast me not off in old age; forsake me not when my strength fails me.” (Psalm 71:9) “Honor your father and mother….” (Exodus 20:12) “You should rise before the aged and show deference to the old.” (Leviticus 19:23)

To address this issue, Jewish Family & Career Services is initiating a new program, Shabbos Friends. On the third Friday of each month, a JFCS volunteer will visit an assigned facility and say the Sabbath prayers with the Jewish resident(s) living there. Using electric candlesticks donated for this project, the prayers over the candles, wine (grape juice) and fresh challah will be said together.

After her first visit, Michelle Jones, one of the Shabbos Friends, shared, “The once a month visit seems like a small thing, but it can have a huge impact. These seniors are definitely a minority in their new environment and participating in these traditional rituals means a lot to them.”

Shabbos Friends Jan Glaubinger, felt that the experience was heartwarming, and Carol Leibson, is looking forward to visiting again next month.

One of the residents commented, “Thank you for not forgetting me. I’m the only Jewish person at this home, and sometimes it is so lonely.”

An adult family member added, “We really appreciated your volunteer visiting mother last week. She so enjoyed the visit and the challah.”

More volunteers are needed. To become a Shabbos Friend, contact JFCS Volunteer Coordinator Shelley Kahn, 452-6341, ext. 103, or skahn@jfcslouisville.org.

Donations are needed now to help fund this project. They can be sent to JFCS/Shabbos Friends at 2821 Klempner Way, Louisville, KY 40205.

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