Kind words were said, gifts were given and tears of joy were shed at the annual V’Hadarta P’Nei Zaken (respect for the elderly) ceremony at Hillel Lodge, June 14, when Rachel Kugler’s Grade 4 class from the Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS) presented 11 Lodge residents with an album that contained their life stories along with pictures and assorted artwork.
The V’Hadarta P’Nei Zaken program matches two Grade 4 students with a resident of Hillel Lodge. The students spend time with the resident during the year, learning about their lives, and present them with an album at the ceremony at the end of the school year.
Before the ceremony formally began, Daniel Blacher, a participant in the first V’Hadarta P’Nei Zaken program 10 years ago, spoke about how wonderful the experience was and how important it is to appreciate the elderly.
“V’Hadarta P’Nei Zaken allowed us to put the concept of dignifying, respecting and honouring the elderly into practice,” Blacher said. “I still have very fond memories of the program and the resident who I was paired with … It was like having another grandmother.”
During the ceremony, the 11 pairs of OJCS students each said a few kind words about their residents before presenting them with an album. Family members of many of the residents were in attendance and were overcome with emotion.
“This ceremony truly captures the beauty of l’dor v’dor (from generation to generation),” said Cantor Daniel Benlolo before leading a rendition of “Ya’aseh Shalom.”
Cantor Benlolo ushered the ceremony along, singing and telling jokes between each album’s presentation.
“You can take a lot of nachas from these kids,” said Hillel Lodge Executive Director Stephen Schneiderman. “The next generation is in very capable hands.”
Lodge residents beamed with obvious joy as they turned the pages of their albums with the children.
“The children are absolutely wonderful,” said resident Jack Stupp. “This entire ceremony has really brightened my day.”