Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Hope McCormack, bat mitzvah to program director

At the age of 13, Hope McCormack needed a bat mitzvah project. Happy to fulfill this Temple Israel requirement, her mother, Michelle Bilsky, guided her to the Jewish Pavilion. She started going to assisted living communities and nursing homes to give out challahs and visit with the Jewish residents. She continued to volunteer periodically while going to Hebrew high school. As often as she could through college, McCormack helped her mother with Shabbat services at Cascade Heights and Orlando Lutheran Towers.

McCormack had enjoyed her bat mitzvah project because the residents were nice to talk to and she loved to listen to their stories on how they came to live in America and why they came to live in Florida. When she found out a program director position was available at the Jewish Pavilion, she immediately applied. Starting out with three elder-care communities, McCormack now conducts services, listens to stories and uses her minor in education to stimulate the minds of the seniors she meets. When asked what they wanted most from their visit, many seniors said they wanted something to make them think. McCormack is happy to comply.

Working as program director since June, McCormack is learning the Shabbat preferences of each community she visits. One place prefers McCormack to read the entire service; another likes to read along out loud. The third just wants to get through the service so they can talk about the current holiday or play Jeopardy.

To join McCormack at any of her services, contact the Jewish Pavilion at 407-678-9363 or sign up to volunteer at http://www.jewishpavilion.org.


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