There’s a change in the air on Friday afternoons at Daughters of Sarah. Staff prepares the traditional Friday night meal, families come to visit, Shabbat services commence, and residents settle in for the start of the weekend. For all newly arrived Jewish residents, a gift from the Daughters of Sarah Jewish Foundation —“Shabbat in a Box”— is delivered.
Each box is decorated and packed by volunteers and includes: blessings for candlelighting, kiddush and ha’motzi; a pair of battery-lit Shabbat candles; a kiddush cup; a packet of salt; and besamim (spices) for the havdalah service ending Shabbat. Grape juice and challah are also provided, depending on an individual’s dietary restrictions.
The box was a creative idea of long-time Daughters of Sarah Board member Dr. Ed Jacobs. Jacobs indicated that the box reflects the spirit of an often-misquoted thought, “The measure of a society is how it treats its elderly.”
The feedback from residents and families regarding the Shabbat boxes has been overwhelming positive according to Daughters of Sarah administrators. Several residents cried on learning of this gift. Others have been joyful that they can continue their Friday night traditions.
The daughter of one recent late resident conveyed that her family was able to usher in Shabbat with her father one last time. As a family, they recited the blessings welcomed Shabbat together, as they had for many years. The next day, as Shabbat waned, they recited the havdalah blessings together at her father’s bedside. They later realized it was the last time he could hear their voices before he died.
For those in their fourth age, the value of religious observance is well-documented. Maintaining one’s faith provides a source of comfort, connection, and meaning, especially for the elderly as they navigate the challenges of aging, according to Daughters of Sarah administrators.
According to the Daughters of Sarah, the area’s only Jewish community for seniors, Daughters of Sarah honors and incorporates traditional Jewish values, customs, and traditions in all of its care. Living among other Jews fosters belonging and offers social support while allowing residents to maintain a sense of identity and continuity. The culture at Daughters focuses on honoring and respecting parents (kabade et aveecha v’et emecha), performing acts of lovingkindness (gemliut chasadim), and emphasizing joy, dignity, and meaning for all and celebrating the uniqueness of each individual (b’tzelem elokim).