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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Ma’ayanot students at Senior Source. (Credit: Deborah Glasser)

Students working with the seniors. (Credit: Deborah Glasser)

On Tuesday, May 7, Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School students assembled at Senior Source, a lounge in the Shops at Riverside mall that offers activities and seminars for seniors, for the second Senior Tech Time experience. Organized by Ma’ayanot, Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Northern New Jersey (JFCS) and Senior Source staff, the aim of the event was to help seniors become more familiar with their technology, whether it be computers, smartphones or tablets. Throughout the hour-long session students were paired with a senior on a one-on-one basis and were available to answer any questions the seniors might have that would help them better understand their devices. By the time the hour had ended, seniors and students alike left the lounge with smiles and also a few new friends.

Established in 2010 by the president of construction and property management company Brad-Core, Brad Ruder created Senior Source as a not-for-profit organization that serves to provide seniors with a community-oriented facility. In the time since its inception, according to their website, the concept became “a destination where seniors could enjoy a warm and inviting lounge, engage in activities and obtain resources on a range of topics including health, fitness, finance, insurance, housing and more.” Senior Tech Time is just another such example of their offerings. Michele Silver, the executive director of Senior Source, was on hand for the event and to help introduce the seniors and students.

According to Deborah Glasser, the director of marketing at JFCS, “We saw a need with isolated seniors to better understand technology for enhanced connection with the world and communication with family and friends. We thought it would be a great idea to bring tech-savvy high school students together with seniors to build skills and perform chesed. We connected Ma’ayanot high school girls with seniors from JFCS and Senior Source and it has been phenomenal. The students and seniors have truly benefited from the program.”

Michele Major is the director of educational technology at Ma’ayanot. For her, the event was an exciting opportunity for her students to learn about the importance of intergenerational communication and also the value of true face-to-face communication.

“We worked really hard to put this event together, and we wanted it to happen because we think it has a lot of critical lessons for our students to learn,” Major shared. “The goal of this event was all about intergenerational communication; the opportunity is amazing because a lot of my students don’t usually have face-to-face communication or teach other people. This offered them a skill that they don’t use as often, and for them to sit down with people who are not in their generation and show them what they know and see how appreciative they are of the information, it really is something special.”

Hadassah Freedman is an 11th grader at Ma’ayanot. During her time working with her senior, Bob Goodman, she taught him how to go on Chrome, send emails, voice messages, and text messages to his family members.

“The all-together experience of working with my partner, and seeing how learning one thing changed the way he thought about technology, was my favorite part of the event,” Freedman said. “We’re not telling everyone that technology is what they have to use and that they have to live on their phones, but we are helping them understand how it can improve how they communicate with people, that you don’t have to be standing next to someone to have a conversation.”

According to its website, JFCS is an organization that operates around the goal to “strengthen and enhance the well-being of all who call upon us by providing professional and compassionate human services to effectively meet life’s many challenges.” Deborah Glasser expressed her happiness at the positive reception that both the seniors and students were having at the event.

“It is a great thing for the students to learn about working with seniors, and to figure out different ways of communicating—explaining tech skills that come so naturally to the students,” Glasser shared. “The seniors benefit from learning about technology, and the students feel good knowing they made an impact and helped somebody in need. Seeing everyone working together has really made this whole event worth it.”

Senior Source is an active organization looking to enrich and support the lives of local seniors. To learn more, please visit https://seniorsourcenj.org/. JFCS is a human services agency that empowers people to transform their lives through providing mental health services, senior care, emergency services, career and afterschool programs to those in need in northern New Jersey. To learn more, visit https://www.jfcsnnj.org/. Ma’ayanot is an all-girls Modern Orthodox high school in Teaneck, providing a rigorous, college-preparatory education in Judaic and general studies. To learn more, visit https://www.maayanot.org/.

By Adam Samuel


Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at adamssoapbox.com