Jewish scholars and texts have been commenting on the proper treatment of the elderly since biblical times: “Do not cast me aside in old age, when my strength fails, do not abandon me” (Psalm 71:9). The Talmud, Midrash, Halakha, and even modern Jewish thought, texts which cover centuries of Jewish life, emphasize our people’s deep commitment to respect for the dignity of the elderly. “The test of a people is how it behaves toward the old… the affection and care for the old, the incurable, the helpless are the true gold mines of a culture” (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Insecurity of Freedom, 1966).
The focus of Better Together™: An Intergenerational Program is to sensitize students to the challenges of the elderly and incorporate Jewish learning and values in their interactions with the elderly. The Better Together™ program includes the opportunity to teach students Jewish traditions and ethics that they can actualize in their daily lives.
Goals and Expectations
Through purposely focused interactions with seniors:
- Students are expected to develop a relationship with a senior.
- Students will be sensitized to the needs of the seniors and instilled with a sense of obligation and responsibility to care for this generation.
- Students will be imbued with a concrete understanding of Judaism’s ethics and expectations regarding the elderly.
- Students will learn that they have as much to gain from the seniors as they have to give.
- Students will gain confidence and acquire skills through their experiences and interactions with the seniors.
The seniors will:
- Be engaged and active in meaningful interactions with students.
- Have the opportunity to share their lives, experiences and wisdom with the students.