Students and Residents Work Together to Help the Homeless
Recently students from Heschel Day School in Northridge joined hands with residents at the Eisenberg Village campus of the Los Angeles Jewish Home to create hygiene kits for homeless people. Both groups of people were independently looking for an opportunity to give back to the community. Heschel's Rabbi Scott Westle and the Home's Rabbi Ron Goldberg thought the two populations would love to collaborate on this worthwhile project—and so they did.
"It's a wonderful program," said Rabbi Goldberg. "This is a good chance for our residents to engage in social activism and contribute to the larger community around us." Rabbi Westle noted, "It's intergenerational dialogue and community problem solving. The real magic that stems from this event is the conversations the students are having with the residents sitting next to them."
The seventh graders researched the problem of homelessness and decided hygiene kits would bring aid, comfort, and dignity to those without permanent housing. Over 200 finished kits were given to LA Family Housing, an organization that helps homeless people regain their footing in society.
The Home's residents—whose average age is 92—enjoyed kibitzing with the 12- and 13-year olds. "This was so wonderful," said resident Karen Meyer. "I'm so proud of the kids for coming." Audrey Berger commented, "The kids had a ball!" And Shoshana Oshradt was thrilled the Home participated in a program like this. "There is nothing out there like the Jewish Home," she said. "Rabbi Ron is terrific!"
The Heschel Day School students were just as happy about the occasion. Student Leila said, "We worked together with people of different ages to help the homeless." Rabbi Westle summed up the event by saying, "Our students created a product to make the lives of the homeless better. They also networked with a population to whom they don't normally have access." The making of the kits lasted only 15 minutes, but the students and residents chatted together for an hour.