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

Exploring intergenerational Jewish history together


(L-r), Pearl Bernstein, Susan Bernstein and Josh Zeffren.

Just last month, Josh Zeffren, a seventh grader from Congregation Ohev Shalom, approached The Jewish Pavilion regarding meeting with a senior regularly and exploring his or her Jewish history. This would be his bar mitzvah project-with the tangible result being a short written journal of what was discussed.

Josh continued on his path this past week, meeting with Pearl Bernstein, a relatively new resident of Brookdale Island Court. The two chatted about half an hour, sharing life stories. Neither of them shared the details, but both happily agreed on another meeting for late October.

"It's a really good idea, and it seems to be working out well," said Susan Bernstein, member of Temple Israel and the daughter of Pearl. Susan conversed with Josh's mom, Lisa, while Josh and Pearl chatted in another room. And although Josh has yet to uncover any intergenerational connections with Pearl, it turns out that Lisa and Susan-who had never met-share a circle of mutual out-of-town connections.

"As soon as she said she knew some people named Zeffren in Dallas, I knew they had to be my relatives," Lisa laughingly recounted. "My husband's parents are the only Zeffrens in Dallas."

Susan had met the Zeffren family through her work in Jewish education more than 20 years ago.

Stay tuned to The Heritage for future tidbits as Josh continues with his bar mitzvah project. Indeed, Pearl moved to Orlando directly from New Mexico-certainly not the most direct route that most Jewish seniors follow to Florida.

If other bar or bat mitzvah students are interested in a 1-to-1 "journey" with one of Orlando's vibrant seniors, contact Jane Edelstein, intergenerational program director at the Jewish Pavilion at 407-678-9363.


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