June 21, 2024
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June 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

‘The Letter S’ Podcast: Helping Bereaved Children and Teens

As a senior in SAR High School, hearing the words “senior exploration” could mean a variety of different things:an internship, a creative project, a research paper. Pretty much senior exploration takes place during May and it is for a senior to “explore” things that they might be interested in, to get a broader perspective of the “real world” and learn how to work with other people in a professional setting.

For me, I knew that I wanted to do something cool and different—something that I probably would not have done if not for this opportunity. I thought a bit about what could be meaningful, and immediately it came to me. I was going to start a podcast for children who have lost a parent at a young age. This was meaningful to me because I lost my father (David Jasper-Brody z’l) to cancer when I was 8 years old. I tried to think back to my 8-year-old self and asked myself what would have been meaningful when I was going through such a difficult time.

The words “I know what you are going through” and “It will be OK” don’t mean anything to me if the person who is speaking did not go through what I was going through. I appreciated the support, but I felt that a person couldn’t understand what I was experiencing, and how could they? Thank God they didn’t lose a parent when they were so young.

As I began to grow up I realized that I was not the only one who lost a parent at a young age; there were a few people in my very community who also lost a parent, and my family began to befriend them. These people and I did, and still do, have a connection that no one else can relate or connect to unless they, too, have lost a parent at a young age.

That brings me to the point of this podcast—to connect children and young adults who have lost a parent at a young age, to give them a space to speak or to listen to other people who have had similar experiences, to give them comfort and create a community. The podcast is called “The Letter S,” referencing the letter ‘S’ at the end of the word “parentS.” People feel that the word parentS is too casually said. Not everyone has PARENTS: Some people just have a parent, and for me when someone asks me about my parents, in the plural each time, it is a reminder of what I do not have, which I talk a lot about in the podcast.

I have had the honor of having four different people come to speak about their own experiences; it has made my relationship with each person stronger. Leah Fenster, age 20, from Riverdale, whose father passed away when she was 10 years old, said that being interviewed on this podcast “made me realize how much I have really gone through.” She admitted that she initially was surprised that she said yes to participating but is happy that she did. Joe Gross, age 20, living in Queens, whose father passed away when he was 6 years old, spoke about the experience of being part of this podcast. “I really liked speaking about [my parents] and expressing how I felt and what I went through because not everyone goes through this and understands,” he said. He feels that by expressing the challenges he went through and how he dealt with them he will be able to make an impact on others and guide other people to handle their challenges.

The people who have spoken on this podcast were so selfless, and want to help. Raphael Jasper-Brody, age 18, from Riverdale, whose father passed away when he was 8 years old, said that he appreciates being on the podcast. “Even though I don’t usually want to talk about these things, this platform helped me and made me realize that talking about loss isn’t as hard as it seems.”

Although this podcast is geared towards children who have lost a parent at a young age, I knew of a girl named Abby Finkelstein who lost her dad when she was 17 and a senior in high school. I thought that it would be really interesting to hear her story, especially since it might have been a little different considering she was a bit older. Abby, from New Rochelle and now 21, said that being on the podcast for her was “so important to be able to share her story with someone who gets it.”

Each person’s episode was dedicated to the memory of the parent that they lost. Each person who was interviewed had an amazing story to share and amazing life lessons that they took from their tragedy. “The Letter S” podcast can be found on Spotify or Apple podcasts by searching “The Letter S” or by searching Anina Jasper-Brody.

This podcast was something that was started because of an assignment but will be continued because I realized how important and beneficial it is to everyone. I believe that although I created this podcast, this podcast created me as well. Feel free to contact me or anyone who has been featured at [email protected].


 

Anina Jasper-Brody is a recent graduate of SAR High School (class of 2022). She lives in Riverdale, New York. Prior to SAR High School, she attended SAR Academy. She is planning on spending a year in Israel next year at Midreshet Harova, in the Old City. She then plans to attend Stern College for Women (YU) in New York City and major in early childhood education. Anina is a lover of all things involving chesed and ruach. She spends her summers at Camp Moshava and loves building relationships with people around her; she loves hanging out with friends and loves everything she does.

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