A Partnership of the Generations
Written by Barbra Giles & Nancy Siegel Heinrich of Jewish Senior Life in Detroit. Scroll down to download the digital catalog.
The shutdown of the pandemic in 2020 hit older adults hard. The isolation was devastating, especially for those locked down in communal living environments, unable to see family or friends. While many people have resumed their normal lives, the reverberations of that time are still felt by many seniors.
The upheaval of the pandemic has made it difficult for senior living homes to find and maintain staff and provide meaningful and enriching programming to residents. Francine Hermelin, chief network officer at Reboot and a Detroiter, saw the need at Jewish Senior Life of Metropolitan Detroit (JSL) and believed that Reboot’s network of creators, artists, entrepreneurs and activists could help fill the gap. Reboot projects imagine Jewish ritual and tradition afresh, providing opportunities for engagement with the residents and Hermelin saw an opportunity for a meaningful partnership.
It didn’t take long for us to realize that Reboot’s phenomenal curated content could assist our Life Enrichment staff in creating high quality programs for our residents.
The impact has been so great that it has been recognized as a model by the Association of Jewish Homes and Aging Services of North America (AJAS), which represents many of the Jewish Homes across the United States and Canada. Each year, AJAS gives Jewish programming awards to organizations that bring forward innovative Jewish programs that can be duplicated by other organizations. This month, JSL and Reboot are being presented with a 2023 Jewish Programming Award.
A major piece of this award and the success of the project was the creation of a digital catalog of content from Reboot that is suitable for the older adults in our communities. This was funded by a generous grant from the Eugene and Marcia Applebaum Family Foundation. As Detroit’s “gift” to the national Jewish community, Reboot has created a webpage where the materials can easily be accessed by other senior homes around the country. The resources can be accessed here (or via the form below).
Reboot programs such as What Would You Bring, Silver Screen Studios , and 10Q were enjoyed by our JSL Residents. Artists singing Chanukah songs and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur melodies could be found with the click of a button. Laughter and memories could be enjoyed through Saturday Night Seder. Reboot brought Jewish content to life for the older adults we serve.
When JSL ran the program What Would You Bring in our Meer Apartments, our independent living residents were encouraged to bring or describe an item that they would take with them if they had to leave their apartment in 15 minutes and could not return. It was a program that struck very close to many of their hearts because many of our residents had lived through this exact experience more than once in their lifetime. One resident in particular, Bernie Jonas, a 99-year-old widower who is pictured below with his item, said he would bring the photo he is holding of his dear departed wife and himself. The room was stunned in silence by the beauty of this gesture. This program provided a meaningful way for our residents to discuss and share items and experiences of personal significance.
In another Reboot program, Give Light, residents discussed ways in which they could give light in some way during Chanukah. The residents watched a Reboot video on spreading light into the world through the lighting of the Chanukah candles. The residents then had to think of ways that they would “give light” in the coming months. Examples included; helping others, phoning a friend, lighting candles and saying prayers, praying for peace in the world, staying in touch and initiating contact with friends, smiling and saying hello to everyone you pass, and even teaching English as a second language. Our residents have many ways that they can give of themselves and have an impact and this program was a wonderful reminder.
We want to thank all the artists and creative individuals who have collaborated to bring their talents to Reboot and have helped to create Jewish content that is accessible to our older adults. Unknowingly you have all been doing the mitzvah of honoring our Fathers and Mothers and we thank you for your collaboration.
For the first time, as a pilot with Jewish Senior Life, Reboot has created a Digital Catalog to provide select experiences, programs and opportunities for residential programmers to access, curate and distribute meaningful Jewish content to their residents. Through the Reboot Digital Catalog, program staff can make decisions that are right for their communities. Whether looking for holiday programming such as Yom Kippur or Passover or thoughtful Jewish conversations with rabbis such as Sharon Brous or short form video entertainment with luminaries such as Larry King and Carl Reiner, there are hours of content to inspire and delight. Reboot staff is also available to provide supplementary content such as digital toolkits and curriculum to complement these programs. Please view our appendix for some supplemental program ideas.
This is a draft catalog. Together with Jewish Senior Life, Reboot hopes to transform this into a workable tool for easy distribution and access.
Barbra Giles, LMSW, ACSW, serves Jewish Senior Life of Metropolitan Detroit as the Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives. In her role she oversees the agency’s home and community-based programs as well finding new and innovative ways for the agency to serve older adults. She has been with the agency for over 25 years. She is a past winner of the Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Award for Outstanding Professional Service. This award is given to an individual who is recognized for the highest professional standards in Jewish Communal Service. She is actively involved with LeadingAge Michigan and serves as the Immediate Past Chair. Her background and training is in social work, and her degree is from the University of Michigan.
Nancy Siegel Heinrich is the CEO of Jewish Senior Life of Metropolitan Detroit, a position she has held since 2015. As CEO, Nancy oversees six residential communities serving older adults on two campuses, spanning the continuum from independent to assisted living and memory care as well as several services supporting older adults in the Detroit Metropolitan area. For 30 years prior to becoming CEO, Nancy practiced commercial real estate law in Chicago, Phoenix and Detroit. She became devoted to Jewish Senior Life’s work and mission when she joined the Board in 2003, eventually becoming its President in 2012.