Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Emily Newman
Program Director Jewish Pavilion 

The youth make valuable volunteers for Jewish Pavilion


Sylvia Sprung and Sofie Cohen


When recruiting new volunteers to touch the lives of seniors in our community, reaching out to the synagogues is one avenue I pursue, more specifically the youth. Each program director attempts to contact different synagogues in an effort to reach a wide variety of people who hold different gifts to share with the Jewish elderly.

The teens and students of Congregation Ohev Shalom have been involved for years at various senior living communities all over town. Most recently, the USY teens have lead Shabbat services at Chambrel Island Lake. Their compassion, generosity and extensive knowledge of the Shabbat program have been shared with dozens of seniors living at Chambrel. Not only the teens, but the third and fourth graders have shared the holiday of Purim with many seniors living in Longwood and Lake Mary by bringing Mishloach Manot, songs and laughter.

Abby Newman and Sofie Cohen

Young teens planning for their bar and bat mitvahs are welcome to lead prayers and song for the seniors at a holiday and Shabbat program. This allows the youth to practice for their 'big day' and the seniors to enjoy the enthusiasm and energy of the young people. Two bat mitzvah-age girls, Jenna Gould and Sofie Cohen, are currently fulfilling their bat mitzvah projects with Jewish Pavilion. Abby Newman, a graduate of COS religious school and currently a freshman at the University of Florida, spent years working as a teacher's assistant at the religious school and counselor at Camp Macheneh Ohev.

"It was a satisfying experience leading a service with Sofie when at one time she was my student," said Newman. "Because of my former involvement at Ohev Shalom, I know the grandchildren of many seniors now living at Chambrel. It offers me a special bond with them and something to talk about and share with them."

Children and teens are valuable volunteers who carry a lifetime of joy and gratitude to others in their future.


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