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

The benefits of belonging to a community


The Jewish Pavilion’s mission is to bring Jewish life and culture to residents in senior living facilities. This includes Shabbat and holiday services and programs, along with individual visitations. The outcome is obvious and predictable—an opportunity to enjoy the rich array of prayers, songs, stories, food, and social interaction. However, many times during a Shabbat service, the opportunity arises to go beyond the words of the service or the routine of the day. Opening up dialogues and telling personal stories during the program becomes the element that transforms a group of people gathering weekly or monthly into a close-knit family and to enable the participants to build a community within the facility.

One such story was told last week at a Shabbat service at Westminster of Winter Park. After the service, I asked a new participant to tell a little about herself. It was initially for my benefit, since this was the first time we had met. The brief story she shared was about her life in England during World War II. She told us that as a child, she was transported with her siblings out of London to the security of a small town and the shelter of benevolent families. It was a captivating story, but more than that, it brought us closer to this woman and enabled her friends and myself to appreciate her life story.

The benefit of belonging to a community and the opportunity to tell our personal stories is so important throughout our lives but even more so as we age. The program directors and volunteers at the Jewish Pavilion provide these opportunities through our work with the senior living residences.

— Susan Bernstein, Jewish Pavilion program director


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