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Goodbye Dear Friend

Posted: December 19, 2013

When I first walked through the doors of JCHE, I was a volunteer. I was a part of the Young Leadership Division of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, and we were having an evening meeting at Golda. I was immediately impressed, as most people are, by the high standards of JCHE, and the quality of life of the tenants. 

A few years later, I was co-chairing the Jaffa Society through CJP, and one of our directives was community service. I remembered how impressed I was with JCHE, and I came up with the idea that we (a group of volunteer mothers) would bring our young children to Golda and celebrate holidays and Shabbat once a month with the tenants.  Thus, Jaffa Shabbat was born. 

As I walked through the doors a second time, again as a volunteer, I was greeted with smiles, and helping hands from the tenants all too eager to whisk my boys away and entertain them.  “Wait a minute,” I thought “who’s doing the community service?” 

My younger child, Brad, was a little shy, but quickly found comfort in the friendly smile and calmness of Selma Beshansky.  I don’t know what drew Brad to Selma, but drawn he was to her, and she to him.  He would not leave her side, and every month, he walked into Golda and sought out the chair that Selma had saved for her special friend. 

Their relationship can be summed up in the mere fact that about five years after he met Selma, as I put together Brad’s new desk and bulletin board, he insisted that his favorite picture of he and Selma was centered on the bulletin board.  It was surrounded by sports paraphernalia, Lego’s, and all things boy, but he would not allow anything to touch that picture. It remains the one thing untouched on his bulletin board today.

It was their relationship that opened my eyes to the importance of intergenerational programming. It was their relationship that changed my life. 

A few years later, I walked through the doors of JCHE as an employee.  My goal is to share the importance of intergenerational programs with whoever is willing to participate. 

Today, I said goodbye to Selma. I cried as I gave Aaron, her beloved husband, pictures of Brad and Selma that spanned Brad’s lifetime.  I thanked Aaron for sharing Selma with Brad.  We share his sadness today, and are grateful to JCHE for changing our lives in ways we didn’t think imaginable.

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