San Antonio Shabbat and Holiday Programs Demonstrate Support During Pandemic

Since the onset of the pandemic, San Antonio Jewish Senior Services has been working to show older adults in the San Antonio Jewish community that “we are with them even though we are apart.”

When the city went on mandatory lockdown around Passover, the community quickly mobilized and reached out to almost 80 households and provided complete Seder meals– along with matzah and grape juice– to 40 older adults in our community. In addition, we provided special Seder food items and model Seder materials for Jewish residents in senior living facilities.

Since Passover, the community has delivered approximately 40 fresh baked challahs to older adults living independently and to 70 older adults in senior living centers each month.  We rotate names to reach more than 450 older adults in the San Antonio Jewish community.

We are fortunate that some of our Jewish congregations and organizations have partnered with us on these deliveries by adding additional food items, Shabbat candles, financial support or volunteers to help deliver. Through this new program, SAJSS has reached hundreds of older adults and engaged new volunteers, including multigenerational families.

For Rosh Hashanah, with the local situation not yet normalized and friends and families still unable to be together, we plan to deliver a special Rosh Hashanah package to more than 250 older adult households. We have contacted other local organizations to partner on this endeavor and have had a terrific response from a local grocery chain as well as other Jewish organizations and congregations to make this a true community effort.  With the help of these partners, the Rosh Hashanah packages will include round challah, gefilte fish and horseradish, apples and honey, grape juice, candles and more.

We are incredibly grateful to the dedicated volunteers who help make SAJSS’ weekly deliveries possible and bring physically-distanced joy to the recipients.

As part of the program, our crisis coordinator makes 50 check-in calls to older adults each week. In addition, we have started an Adopt-a-Senior program which partners volunteers with older adults to help keep them connected to the community.

We hope to continue our weekly challah delivery and phone calls on a smaller scale when the pandemic is finally behind us. For now, SAJSS will continue to make weekly calls and coordinate deliveries to bring Shabbat and holiday joy to Jewish older adults in San Antonio.

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