fbpx
Thursday, August 6, 2020

Two Los Angeles Synagogues Team Up To Create COVID-19 Buddy System for Elderly

It is a frightening time to be an older adult because people older than 60 represent 45% of COVID-19 hospitalizations, 53% of intensive care unit admissions and 80% of deaths.

Enjoying this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

The day after Purim used to be the day some of us started to prepare for Passover, slowly getting rid of the spaghetti, bread and other chametz that filled our cupboards during the year.

This year is different. This year, the words from the Book of Esther echo in our ears as we face this plague. It’s the moment when Mordecai challenges Queen Esther to save her people. He says, “And who knows? Perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis.”

This is how we feel about ChaiVillageLA, the first synagogue-based “village” in the nation: Perhaps it was created for just this moment.

ChaiVillageLA is a partnership between two Los Angeles synagogues: Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills and Temple Isaiah. It was established four years ago as a means of providing the kind of community that would enable synagogue members to age in place, in their homes. We thought people might join because they would need assistance — someone to do the grocery shopping as they recuperated from a hip replacement; someone to drive them to the doctor; someone to walk the dog when they could not.

Instead, we discovered people joined because they wanted community; they wanted friends. It turned out that our social capital really does constrict when we get older — when work colleagues are not so connected to us; when the friends we made when our kids were little are no longer in our lives; and when old friends have died. It turns out loneliness is real, an epidemic of its own that can result in death. ChaiVillageLA has helped us all find new friends and connect in so many ways, through joyfully sharing our talents, wisdom and experience with one another.

What none of us knew was that ChaiVillageLA someday would be life-saving.

Many of ChaiVillageLA’s 230 members are older adults who have remained in their own homes. A good number of them live alone and now are sheltering in place alone.

Many of ChaiVillageLA’s 230 members are older adults who have remained in their own homes. A good number of them live alone and now are sheltering in place alone. “During this pandemic, we have connected every Village member with another member,” said Executive Director Devorah Servi. “These buddy pairs commit to being in touch with one another regularly by phone, email and/or text. In this way, we have not only eased loneliness, but also we learn about the changing needs of our members (e.g. grocery deliveries or upcoming surgery support). All in a way that is safe for everyone. One buddy team learned that they had worked at the same place many years ago, and shared stories about the ‘good old days.’ It is good to know that even now — or especially now — members continue to make new friends and we are never alone.”

Because loneliness can be life-threatening, Village members offer virtual gathering opportunities — everything from an afternoon tea and film/book discussions to a virtual dress-up cocktail party! And because it is impossible to imagine Passover being canceled because of a plague, the Village is helping members create virtual seders, and we are making sure everyone in the Village is invited to one. To ensure members have a clear understanding of the coronavirus, recently the Village organized a meeting with nurses from Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health to answer specific questions about how to navigate our lives with the threat of COVID-19. More than 45 people were on the 90-minute call.

By being a part of synagogues, one of the only truly intergenerational institutions that still exist in our lives, ChaiVillageLA has the opportunity to find new ways of creating intergenerational connection after this crisis is over.

It is a frightening time to be an older adult because people older than 60 represent 45% of COVID-19 hospitalizations, 53% of intensive care unit admissions and 80% of deaths. Even more frightening are the reactions of some people, especially on social media, that COVID-19 doesn’t matter much if it primarily afflicts older people.

A recent article in The New York Times by Louise Aronson called attention to this view and reminded us of the danger of accepting the second-class citizenship of an entire category of human beings. Comments on Fox News like that of Dan Patrick, the Texas lieutenant governor, that he was not only ready for the country and the economy to get moving again amid the coronavirus pandemic, but also that he and other grandparents might be willing to die for that to happen, suggests the value of the lives of older adults should be an economic calculus.

Some of us worry that this virus and the way the country responds could exacerbate the kind of intergenerational tension reflected in the meme “boomer remover” that has appeared on social media. By being a part of synagogues, one of the only truly intergenerational institutions that still exist in our lives, ChaiVillageLA has the opportunity to find new ways of creating intergenerational connection after this crisis is over.

ChaiVillageLA was created for a moment like this. And although we hope there is never another moment like this, other local synagogues should be ready for the future by creating their own versions of a village. To that end, we have begun to explore how to help other synagogues reimagine their visions of becoming a genuine community through the newly created Synagogue Village Network.

Passover is coming up. We eventually will come out of the narrow place, the mitzrayim we live in now. We will emerge strengthened because of the deeper connections we have made with one another through ChaiVillageLA.


Pete Siegel is on the ChaiVillageLA board; Georgia Mercer is board co-chair; Barbara Meltzer is a board member at large; and Sherri Morr is co-chair of Synagogue Village Network.

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parshat Eikev with Rabbi Gideon Estes

Rabbi Gideon Estes became the head rabbi at Congregation Or Ami (Houston, TX) in July 2010, and is now in his eleventh year as...

Letters: The Importance of Mussar, Anti-Americanism and the Jews 

The Importance of Mussar Thank you, Rabbi Lori Shapiro, for your informative exposition on the universal relevance of Mussar (“Can Mussar Help Us Repair the...

Garcetti Says Water, Power Will Be Turned Off From Places Holding Large Gatherings

A shooting had occurred during the party, resulting in one dead.

Anti-Americanism: The New Anti-Semitism

Just like the Jews, America is hated because it is successful. For over a century, it has been the most successful country in the world

Jewish Federation Says It Won’t Partner With Philadelphia NAACP As Long As Current President Remains in Place

Philadelphia NAACP President Rodney Muhammad had posted an anti-Semitic image to his Facebook page on July 24.

Critics Say Netflix Series ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Promotes Anti-Semitic Stereotype Through Yiddish Scene

The scene shows lizard people controlling the world and their handler speaking Yiddish.

AOC Inspired A New Generation of Strong Women, I Met a Lesser Known AOC at USC

Ocasio-Cortez did not simply put a bully in his place; she demonstrated to a generation of young women that they don’t need to accept such abuse either.

Tel Aviv City Hall Lights Up as Lebanese Flag to Show Solidarity Following Beirut Explosions

"Our hearts and thoughts are with the Lebanese people and all those affected by the terrible disaster in #Beirut."

How ‘Shtisel’ Season 3 Is Filmed in Israel During a Pandemic

The series now filming its 3rd season resumed under strict accordance with health and safety regulations.

Culture

Critics Say Netflix Series ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Promotes Anti-Semitic Stereotype Through Yiddish Scene

The scene shows lizard people controlling the world and their handler speaking Yiddish.

How ‘Shtisel’ Season 3 Is Filmed in Israel During a Pandemic

The series now filming its 3rd season resumed under strict accordance with health and safety regulations.

The Devaluation of Free Speech in the Land of the Free

Whether we realize it or not, we are being forced to rethink our origins and reorder our priorities — mostly by holding our tongue.

The Dignity of the Individual: An Ode to Radical Heterodoxy

My goal here is to take a step back and understand that many participating in cancel culture were never taught the real essence of liberalism.

Adam Eli Uses Jewish Roots, Ideology to Stand Up for Queer Community in Debut Book

In “The New Queer Conscience,” published in June, the 29-year-old shares that queer people anywhere are responsible for queer people everywhere.

Latest Articles
Latest

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parshat Eikev with Rabbi Gideon Estes

Rabbi Gideon Estes became the head rabbi at Congregation Or Ami (Houston, TX) in July 2010, and is now in his eleventh year as...

Letters: The Importance of Mussar, Anti-Americanism and the Jews 

The Importance of Mussar Thank you, Rabbi Lori Shapiro, for your informative exposition on the universal relevance of Mussar (“Can Mussar Help Us Repair the...

Garcetti Says Water, Power Will Be Turned Off From Places Holding Large Gatherings

A shooting had occurred during the party, resulting in one dead.

Anti-Americanism: The New Anti-Semitism

Just like the Jews, America is hated because it is successful. For over a century, it has been the most successful country in the world

Hollywood

Roy Moore’s Lawsuit Against Sacha Baron Cohen Over Being Pranked Can Proceed, Judge Rules

By the time the episode aired, it was widely known that Cohen was punking public figures.

‘Expecting Amy’ Highlights a New Comedy Dynamic of Jewish Mothers Making, Not Being, the Jokes

Jewish moms like Amy Schumer, who were once the material, have become the premier comics of this age.

Podcasts

The Mastermind Behind Netanyahu’s New Media (Topaz Luk)

Even prime ministers can’t do everything by themselves. They must surround themselves with dedicated, smart and excellent people who will help them.

Pandemic Times Episode 75: What is the Secret to Jewish Resiliency?

New David Suissa Podcast Every Monday and Friday. Reflections on the worsening times and how the Jewish approach to resiliency can guide us. How do we...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x