8th graders, 6th graders, elderly…OH MY!

I’ve hung out with some diverse groups of friends the past three weeks. First 8th graders, then 6th graders, and then, this past weekend, the elderly! It’s been crazy.

I stayed at Gidwitz Retirement Home in Deerfield for Shabbat with Jenny, Shoshie, Shaina, Daniel, and Sondra. This was my third Gidwitz Shabbaton. We lead services for the residents, activities, etc. We sleep in a classroom and have our own meals, and it’s a lot of fun.

A summary of some of the funny moments from the Shabbat:

One of the old ladies, as we were leaving the room: “I hope you all have nice husbands!”

We went to the Alzheimer’s section of the nursing home to do a program with them. We didn’t plan this program, so we were expecting bingo, singing, or storytelling. Not exactly.
-We walked into the room, and the TV was blaring loudly. The activities director that we were with stormed in there and said, “ARE YOU HARD OF HEARING???” Yes! They’re in a nursing home! Of course they’re hard of hearing!! “WHY IS THE TV ON?”
-One woman pointed at Rose, standing guiltily by the TV. “Rose turned it on!”
-Rose: “I…I…”
-Another old lady: “Wake up and smell the roses, Rose!”

So we found out the activity we were supposed to do with the residents. It was Abe Lincoln’s birthday that day, so they scheduled us to read from a little U.S. History picture book about him. We got sort of bored reading from the book about our 16th president, so Daniel, a good AP U.S. student, shared some of his knowledge. Then I got up there and told the Honest Abe story, and said how proud I am to live in Illinois, a state with so many things named for such an honest man (Lincolnwood, Lincolnshire, Lincoln Park, Land of Lincoln, etc). We discussed Springfield a little, too. One man said, “Did you know that Abraham Lincoln was Jewish? His real name was Avraham Leibowitz.” It was so bizarre.

After we exhausted the Lincoln discussion, we taught them one of our new favorite songs: “How are you, how are you, how are you, how are you, I’m FINE, baruch hashem!” They liked it.

One man told us a story about someone once insulted him by calling him “Double Picasso”: “You’re pi-pi, ca-ca, and so-so.” Ummm…


It was a lot of fun, and I know the residents enjoyed our company.


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