Englewood—Meet Divsha Tollinsky, local mensch and director of early childhood at the Moriah School. Divsha manages to blend her midot into her professional career as she infuses the Early Childhood Department with chesed.
For years, the Early Childhood Department in the Moriah School has been going once annually to The Esplanade, a home for senior citizens in Palisades, New York, but this year marked the first in which the visits happened more than once. After 2012’s Chanukah visit to the Esplanade, Tollinsky realized that there was some aspect lacking in the visits. “The kids came, sang, and left, which was nice, but there was something missing,” she said. This past year’s Chanukah visit was different. The children not only performed songs for the residents of the home, but also sat down and created a project with them, prompting conversation and a good time for all. Tollinsky noted that as she was leaving the home a resident said, “I don’t know who had more fun, us or them.”
Recently, Moriah School’s kindergartners visited the Esplanade for the second time of the year, focusing the contents of their visit on the joy and excitement of Purim. The children gave a lively performance, singing “Yesh Tikvah” (“There is Hope”), a song that incorporates hand motions and movements. “You see the residents laughing, and the bonds being created between the different generations. The visit focuses on what we believe in. As Jewish people, we look up to our grandfathers and great-grandfathers with such respect, and by taking our early childhood to the Esplanade, we ensure that this level of respect is enhanced in importance,” said Tollinsky.
After the performance, the kindergartners and residents sat either one-on-one or in small groups together and made animated Purim crafts with stickers.
With acts like Moriah’s kindergarten visits, Tollinsky is effectively linking generations together. While the ages of the children and residents may be separated by many decades, there is no gap in the common goal: working together in sharing the spirit of the Jewish holidays. The children worked with the residents to keep Purim spirits high, and the residents worked with the children in teaching and guiding.
It is local residents like Divsha Tollinsky, who make doing chesed something to look forward to. Her constant desire to find acts of kindness to build upon is both admirable and commendable. With members like Tollinsky in our community, the Jewish people can continue to come together and work side by side, causing one thing to be undoubtedly true: There is and always will be a mensch among us.
By Oshrat Nachum