Sunday, December 05, 2021

On Sunday, June 30th, 2013, a group of about 40 teenagers and 20 adults from NCSY’s Give USA program came to the Jewish Home at Rockleigh for an intergenerational program that teaches kids how to be clowns and reach out to seniors. Give USA is a summer program of NCSY, the international youth movement of the Orthodox Union. The training was led by Areyvut, a nonprofit organization based in Bergenfield, N.J., which began the program called Mitzvah Clown in December 2009 and has already trained many clowns.

Sunni Herman, JHR’s executive vice president, offered them the use of JHR’s first floor social hall for a meeting. During the training program, participants role played different scenarios, learned about Mitzvah Clowning, how to make balloon animals and apply clown makeup.  After their meeting, the youngsters split up in few groups and went around the building and performed for JHR’s residents. One large group went to the big social hall after the regular concert on Sunday, said Marina Umansky, Assistant Director of Recreation. The youngsters marched into the hall, smiling, dressed in costume, and made animals out of balloons for the residents “It was a surprise for them,” she said. Other groups went to various units, including rehabilitation, and they went from room to room, making everyone smile. “There was a lot of laughter. It made the afternoon a delight,” she said.

Sunni Herman, JHR’s executive vice president, said “when I came in on Monday, I was overwhelmed by the response. Residents, family members and staff kept on telling me how meaningful and powerful the visit was. We were thrilled to be able to host the training and look forward to working with Areyvut and in hosting their Mitzvah Clowns in the future.”

“The Mitzvah Clown program is unique in that participants can utilize the skills throughout their lives, get an opportunity to interact with and learn from seniors and put into action the core Jewish values of chesed, tzedakah and tikkun olam,” said Daniel Rothner, Areyvut founder and director. JHR has offered to host another training session and Areyvut will return to Rockleigh on Sunday, October 13th.

The Jewish Home Family and its member entities, Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Jewish Home Assisted Living, Jewish Home at Home, and Jewish Home Foundation are not-for-profit organizations, providing long-term care, sub-acute, outreach programs, and outpatient services for the elderly and their families in Bergen, North Hudson, and Rockland counties. The Jewish Home Family’s mission is to develop and oversee the very best of care, services, and advice for the elderly and their families at home and in their facilities, now and in the future, consistent with Jewish tradition and values. For further information, please call Melanie Cohen, 201-784-1414.

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