Jewish Care and the Community show they care in Mitzvah Month

12 Nov 2020

Residents from Jewish Care homes have really missed regular nursery visits they previously enjoyed before the Covid-19 pandemic, so they were delighted, together with children from Keren's Nursery when they recently shared a virtual, intergenerational Kabbalat Shabbat service.

One resident, Sybil, who lives at Jewish Care’s Kun Mor & George Kiss Home in Friern Barnet, said, “It’s gorgeous, I could watch them all day long,” as nursery founder Keren Ben Ezra greeted the residents and led the children in celebrating Shabbat with storytelling, candle-lighting and kiddush followed by singing and dancing on the Friday morning Zoom.

And as the winter months approach and venturing outdoors becomes harder, Jewish Care is bringing some of the outside in, so our residents can be closer to nature.

The organisation is creating mini-gardens with each of the households in our care home so that residents can enjoy tending purposefully to the gardens.  

The seed for this Winter Wellbeing Garden project grew when Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, who regularly speaks to our Holocaust Survivors’ Centre members, invited Jewish Care to the recent Gardeners' Question Time, organised by the Eco-Synagogue. 

The virtual session was chaired by Matthew Biggs, professional gardener and presenter, who regularly appears on the long running BBC Radio 4 programme Gardeners' Question Time. A Jewish Care client asked which plants are best suited to looking after indoors over the winter months. Since then, the charity received our first donations of potted plants from members of the New North London Synagogue. Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and Niki Jackson, Director of Education at New North London Synagogue prepared plants to be donated and delivered to care homes before the second lockdown began, as part of their Mitzvah Day project. 

Rabbi Wittenberg says, “In these times, so especially hard, when we can’t go out, plants give pleasure to the senses and solace to the spirit. They remind us of the beauty of the world. Watching the leaves and flowers unfold brings us hope and joy. They remind us of the beauty of the world.”

Meanwhile, Brian Berelowitz and Zea Katzef, from Berry Gardens Limited, are keen supporters of the Jewish environmental initiatives the Eco-Synagogue and J-Trees, delivered plants to the care homes too.

Dedicated volunteer, Wendy Pater, who has devoted so much time to supporting residents for many years, especially through the pandemic at Jewish Care’s Anita Dorfman House at Sandringham, has donated plants in memory of her mum, Queenie, on her Yarzheit. She has also coordinated many kind donations from members of Bushey Synagogue. King Alfred School are one of the many other groups donating plants to care homes for their Winter Wellbeing Gardens.

Jewish Care’s Director of Fundraising & Community Engagement, Adam Overlander-Kaye, says, “We know that nature has a transformative effect on us and we would like to thank the community and our wonderful volunteers for their generous support of our Winter Wellbeing Indoor Garden Project. The donation of these plants will mean that our residents can benefit from enjoying nature over the winter and will have a positive impact on their wellbeing. Something needed more than ever this year.”

Residents and tenants at Jewish Care homes and retirement living apartments got involved with Mitzvah Day/Month with acts of kindness to others in the community this year.

At Jewish Care’s Anita Dorfman House, residents at Sandringham are making and sending cards to NHS staff to thank them for their amazing care and work. Residents for people with mental health needs at Jewish Care’s Sidney Corob House are making and baking a special tea for one another and making cards for Marie Curie whilst residents at Jewish Care’s Jack Gardiner House are helping to raise money for free school meals.  Residents at Jewish Care’s Otto Schiff care home are making cards for Save the Children.

Members of Jewish Care’s Supportive Communities Tea Parties are making cards for one another.

Zaki Cooper and families from Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue performed songs for residents on Zoom and Project impact running a zoom quiz session for Sidney Corob.FZY, Young Jewish Care and March of the Living are donating and delivering food packages to members of Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre and Connect @Kenton.