The Jewish Home at Rockleigh (JHR) recently hosted 17 teenagers and four advisors from Teaneck NCSY for the weekend to spend Shabbat with the residents. The Shabbaton began with a special Kabbalat Shabbat service followed by a traditional Friday night dinner, during which the NCSY boys and girls sat and conversed with the residents. After dinner, NCSYers sang and danced with the residents for the rest of the evening. “This was a unique and rewarding event for everyone,” said Aliza Blumenthal, NCSY Teaneck City Director.
Shabbat morning, the teens led a meaningful davening for the residents followed by an elaborate kiddush/lunch for nearly 100 residents and family members. Richard Goldstein, a member of the JHR Board, attended both services and kiddush with his wife and said, “The students assisted in so many ways, but most of all, their love for Shabbat and what they were doing for the residents came across in the most sincere and dedicated manner.” They also teamed up with the NCSYers to sing zemirot, Jewish Shabbat songs. Some residents were so moved by the experience that they had tears in their eyes, said Ari Markowitz, JHR’s Assistant Administrator.
On Shabbat afternoon, the NCSYers spent one-on-one time bonding and building relationships with the residents. When the girls learned that one of the residents, Rae Leibenhaut, was about to celebrate her 95th birthday, they asked if they could come back to celebrate with her. Rabbi Simon Feld, JHR’s Director of Rabbinic Services, overheard a family member say, “I’ve never experienced a Shabbat like this in my life.”
Nediva Susman, a sophomore at Maayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, says, “You could see that they genuinely wanted us there. From their looks of excitement, you could physically see the difference that we made for their shabbos. To get to experience such thanks is irreplaceable."
Yehoshua Szafranski, a sophomore at MTA says, "Spending Shabbos doing chessed (acts of loving-kindness) with the seniors and all of my friends was an amazing experience. The stories and life lessons I learned that weekend are ones that truly impacted me. I remember one senior who was 103 told me that what we were doing made her realize that no matter what the newspapers said, "the future with kids like us will be bright.” This really made me realize how much potential we teens have to impact the lives of others."
The Shabbaton concluded with a moving Havdalah service. On Saturday night, the JHR seniors and NCSYers enjoyed watching “The Frisco Kid” together. After the movie, the NCSYers returned home, pleased with their experience and the fact that they brought joy to all the residents.
“Efforts such as this Shabbaton not only enable community members to participate in the Jewish Home activities, but also allow residents to remain connected to the community,” said Aliza Blumenthal.
OU | Enhancing Jewish Life