Judaism respects wisdom and experience, remembers its history both personal and communal, and celebrates all aspects of life. As Jewish day schools, large parts of our mission are centered on these concepts. All too often, though, aspects of how we function become abstract and academic rather than rooted in people and the cycles that help define us, and we miss opportunities not just to teach but to do real good, create connections, and build fuller Jewish communities. At their best, community day schools are microcosms of our larger communities and perhaps incubators of their futures.
Almost 11 years ago, sensing a growing disconnect between seniors and young children in our community, a sort of generational segregation, lay and professional leaders sought a way to reconnect these age groups. This generational disconnect had negative outcomes for both ends of the continuum. Our children were missing the connections with their own history in its most tangible form, and, in an increasingly youth-oriented culture, coming to view seniors as “other.” Many of our community’s seniors lived in age-segregated communities and had little contact with anyone other than fellow seniors and caregivers. Not surprisingly, all of them want to be part of the larger community and all have value to contribute. Our Dor l’Dor Program was created as a response to this disconnect and its success is evidenced by its longevity and the enthusiastic responses from all participants.
Every year a wide variety of seniors are recruited to work alongside regular teachers in Rockwern classrooms from preschool to grade 5. The participants range in age from 75 to 98 and represent a wide background of Jewish experience, knowledge and talents. Not a few of them are retired teachers. Some of the volunteers are grandparents of children in the school, but the majority is not. What they all have in common is that they are Jewish elders who still want a vital connection with the future of our community and have time and talents to share.
Each volunteer spends an average of 4 hours each week in the school. Five to ten volunteers participate each. A PTO volunteer coordinates the program, recruiting seniors, matching them with classrooms, and arranging transportation. Volunteers function as reading instructors, storytellers, tefillah leaders, teachers’ aides and mentors. Three of the volunteers have been with us since the inception of the program.
The program is simple to set up and run, brings huge rewards to all participants, and has become a key definer of klal Yisrael in our school and community. ♦
Each fall, the seventh grade students in my Jewish social studies class begin the year by participating in the Jewish Court of All Time online simulation. JCAT is an innovative learning adventure that is a joint venture between the University of Cincinnati’s...[More]
Members of RAVSAK enjoy many benefits which support the overall work of the school and the professionals who lead them. Find out more about membership benefits and how your school can become a member.
Use our interactive map of member schools to find a Jewish Day School near you.
In addition to serving Jewish community day schools across North America, RAVSAK has a special category of membership for Jewish and educational organizations, consultants and companies which share our vision of excellence in Jewish day school education.