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

Keep the music and traditions going!


Sheldon Silberman (l) and Walter Goldstein, program director at the Jewish Pavilion.

When you are a people watcher and you see residents at an assisted- living facility being brought into a group area, you see "it"-The lifeless stares are heart breaking. The program begins and some residents respond, a brief spark of life. You may not get all of them, but a few come alive. All it takes is simple change in the dreary pattern that has now become their life.

Our goal at the Jewish Pavilion is to see that every resident is not forgotten in a facility where staff is unfamiliar with Jewish heritage, history, holidays, traditions, and food and music. It is not as much about the religion as it is that part of our culture that makes us who we are. Some residents in memory care may have forgotten their prayers, but they are reminded of them when we chant them together; especially in song, as music is the last thing to go. There is such wondrous joy, for the resident when they remember and for the service leader, who has touched them in a way that the heart can't express.

Being musical, focusing on song, the transportation of time is quickly achieved. Songs the residents have heard or sung with their parents or even grandparents bring out memories and tears of joy or sorrow. Knowing what to expect, and being prepared to find ways to turn tears of sorrow into joy is so gratifying. Having stories to share and residents to listen enables tears to smiles.

When Jewish Pavilion programs end, all residents leave the room saddened only by the fact that the program is over until next time. With each visit, you become a familiar part of their lives. Every month, knowing of your imminent arrival, the residents come earlier and earlier to see you. The lifeless stares they started with when you first met are now little twinkles of hope and joy. Multiple residents are talking to you about their days and things that happened when they were younger before you even have the chance to put your things down.

How can your heart not be full? Why wouldn't you want to do this? Compassionate? You bet! Caring? Most certainly! Why? In a quote from Tevya from "Fiddler on the Roof": "I'll tell you. I don't know. But it's a tradition. And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is, and what God expects him to do."

At the Jewish Pavilion we keep our Jewish traditions going, so they are not forgotten, as our residents would be if we didn't do what we do.

- Walter Goldstein, Jewish Pavilion program director.


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