Friday, December 28, 1984 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
n ancient Arab folklore, when
Mohammed couldn't go to the moun-
tain, the mountain obliged and came
to him. Young Israel of Southfield
applied this same principle to the
Meyer L. Prentis Manor-Jewish Home
For Aged 18 months ago. When con-
gregants realized that Prentis resi-
dents could not come to. Shabbat serv-
ices, they began bringing Shabbat
services to the residents.
Erwin Posner and his three sons
started their walks to Prentis Manor
almost two years ago. After a vacation
in Holland, and a visit to a town where
the only place to get kosher meat was
the old age home, Posner began won-
dering what religious services were
available for the Jewish elderly in De-
The Posners, of Southfield, began
leading services Shabbat mornings at
Prentis Manor on alternating weeks,
and eventually, turned it into a "pet
project" of Young Israel of Southfield.
The service still takes place every
other week, but instead of Posner and
his • sons bearing the sole responsibil-
ity, the project is now structured so
groups of three or four Young Israel
members attend on a rotating basis,
leading the residents in a complete
Shabbat service with an abbreviated
The service usually attracts be-
tween 15' and 20 "regulars," but ac-
cording to Posner, If only we satisfy
one or two people who happen to have
this background, then we feel happy
And the program seems to be
doing just that - making people happy.
The home is happy with the volun-
teers; the volunteers are happy with
what they are doing; and the residents,
above all, love the link to their faith
and their community.
The program allows the "congreg-
ants," unfortunately out of the
mainstream of Detroit Judaism, to
maintain their ties to their faith. "How
else would we know we're Jews?"
asked one resident.
Many residents say the Posners'
efforts have had a special effect on
them, but Posner stresses that, "We
don't play social worker, but it's great
to see their reactions."
Just as Prentis Manor enjoys a
very special relationship with its
many volunteers in all areas, Young
Israel of Southfield has developed its
own special relationship with the resi-
"We've kind of adopted Prentis
Manor," says Rabbi Elimelech
Goldberg. "The residents are very ap-
preciative and very receptive. We can't
forget — and we don't let them forget
— that old people are the greatest
Young Israel of
Sabbath services for
the elderly at
William Pug liano
Prentis Manor resident Abraham Heit.
BY JEFFREY GUYER
source of Jewish knowledge and in-
According to Cheryl Riskin, assis-
tant director of Jewish Home For Aged
and administrator at Prentis Manor,
"The whole thing started out as a real
challenge, but the feedback of the resi-
dents and the Young Israelites is an
accurate measure of the program's
"They (the Young Israel mem- •
bers) are truly dedicated to what they
are doing. That they are enjoying it
and getting something from the old
people really adds to it."
As for the resident reactions?
"They love it!" says Riskin. "They see
it as a link to the community — that
they are still part of the community.
"We can provide them with just
about anything," continued Riskin,
"but we can't be the community. Al.-
though in a sense they've changed
homes, they are still members of the
Detroit Jewish community. They still
need to know what's going on, and they
want people to know what's going on
But the relationship goes beyond
Shabbat services. A genuine bond has
formed between the residents and the
Young Israel members, Riskin pointed
out. "It's nice that people are coming in
and talking about real things with
them — not just asking about their
health and telling them how their
relatives are doing."
Almost realizing that no Shabbat
service is complete without a sermon,
the residents are treated to a spiritual
message from one of their own.
Rabbi Leon Fram, founding rabbi
of Temple Israel and currently resid-
ing at Prentis Manor, uses his valu-
able insight into the weekly Torah
portion and current events to relate a
real message to his "congregation."
"I feel honored to be able to speak
here," he said. "This service is very
special to us. We look-forward to it."
These remarks echo the senti-
ments of Rabbi Goldberg. "Ever since
our members started going to Prentis,
it's been very special. Finding people
to lead the services is never a problem.
We look forward to going every other
week. Our members get a lot of satis-
faction from what they are doing, and
get a special feeling of self-
Perhaps the most important re-
sult of the project is the lesson it helps
to teach. According to Young Israel
members, the Sabbath program as-
sures that homes for the aged are not
places to die, but places to live and
enjoy the "twilight of life."