The leaders of the BACH Jewish Center and Grandell Rehabilitation and Nursing Center have created a unique collaboration of Jewish outreach that is enriching the lives of synagogue members and the facility’s residents.
One Thursday morning in March, elderly residents of the Grandell Rehabilitation and Nursing Center returned to their rooms to find traditional holiday care packages had been delivered for the Jewish holiday of Purim. Each one contained edible treats and a note written by a child from the nearby BACH Jewish Center. The gesture represented the ongoing religious support that has been initiated by the synagogue’s leader, Rabbi Benny Berlin.
Rabbi Berlin has characterized his burgeoning community’s relationship with the nursing facility as an “adoption of sorts,” as members of all ages have been organizing numerous events to engage the facility’s Jewish residents.
“We are just a few blocks away from the Grandell, making residents who want some Judaism in their lives an extension of our community,” said Rabbi Berlin. “Members of this synagogue have graciously taken it upon themselves to include and engage them, whenever an opportunity presents itself. This means visiting with them, writing letters, touching base with them before holidays, and, more broadly, treating them as our community’s grandparents.”
While the partnership with the facility materialized during the height of COVID-19 for last year’s first Purim basket preparation event, the recent loosening of the pandemic’s restrictions has inspired congregants to plan more inclusive and in-person activities. Some events planned include monthly Sabbath get-togethers, where the synagogue community will join Grandell residents in singing traditional songs, listening to Jewish-inspired sermons on the weekly Torah portion, and creating an atmosphere of spirituality and happiness that is befitting of the day. Other aspects of this collaboration will further enable Grandell residents to participate in Jewish ritual activities whenever possible, including a program providing assistance to wheelchair-bound residents who wish to attend Sabbath morning services at the synagogue. With Passover approaching, the BACH’s youngest members are gearing up to put on a holiday-inspired show for the residents and have already started rehearsing jokes and other tidbits the residents will find amusing.
“What cheese is served at the Passover seder,” one ten-year-old plans to open with. “Matzah-rella,” she finishes. “We wouldn’t pass over seeing you this Passover,” quips an 11-year-old.
“BACH members of all ages feel a responsibility to ensure that we facilitate religious opportunities for the center’s residents, especially considering the tremendous isolation the COVID-19 pandemic brought on for these last two years. What makes the BACH community so special is their willingness to actively participate in programs like this,” added Rabbi Berlin. “Fostering these intergenerational relationships will not only have a transformative impact on the facility’s residents, but on our community members as well, and we are grateful to the Grandell’s leadership for welcoming this partnership.”
Founded in 1946, Bachurei Chemed – BACH Jewish Center is one of Long Island’s most prestigious and oldest synagogues. Members hail from Long Beach, Lido Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Island Park. For more information, please visit www.bachlongbeach.com.