Monday, January 18, 2021
These Services Are Helping Older Jews Master Technology and Stay Connected in Isolation – Baltimore Jewish Times

These Services Are Helping Older Jews Master Technology and Stay Connected in Isolation – Baltimore Jewish Times

Till April, Gail Lipsitz had never become aware of the popular video conferencing platform Zoom. “Suddenly, everybody was discussing and utilizing Zoom. I had no concept how to get it and use it,” the 74-year-old Baltimore resident said.

Thanks to tutoring supplied over the phone by Melanie Waxman, innovation concierge from the Tech Understanding Center at the Edward A. Myerberg Center for older adults, Lipsitz was able to upload Zoom both to her iPhone and iPad and start using it confidently.

She’s now utilizing Zoom to participate in exercise classes and classes from her synagogue, as well as Jewish educational organizations like Hadar, Pardes, and the Hartman. Lipsitz is likewise tuning in to Shabbat services at her child’s California parish, events of her havurah, and meetings with friends over tea.

With 10s of countless Americans staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, numerous older Americans are struggling to master and utilize the technology younger individuals typically use to remain in touch with family, pals, and neighborhoods.

Jewish groups have responded by making special efforts to assist seniors in using the technology, helping them not just with accessing the services they may require, like online shopping, however, likewise ensuring that they remain socially linked to the broader world.

Human connection, even if it’s online, is essential to emotional well-being and also physical health, studies have revealed.

“Celebrating Passover practically was an incentive to get online” for freshly homebound seniors, stated Katie Lehner, marketing director for the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton.

“That was just the start, and then it grew out of control in terms of the need for more programming via Zoom.”

In addition to providing tailored assistance to assist elders in discovering to use virtual communication tools, many Jewish companies are developing online programs, particularly for older people. The Myerberg Center, a program of CHAI supported by The Associated, Baltimore’s Jewish federation, offers 30 virtual activities weekly, including fitness, liberal arts, and art classes. Tutorials on how to use food delivery and monetary apps, such as PayPal and Venmo, also are offered.

In one current week, Niki Barr, director of the Myerberg Center, saw about 740 individuals in its virtual classes.

“This is practically the very same number that we have when classes would fulfill personally,” she said. “I was blown away.”

Jewish federations and their firms have been informing seniors through emails, calls, and print ads in regional Jewish media that support is available for getting connected online.

Some federations are relying on volunteers to supply tech help. Abbie Bailey, a 39-year-old mom of 2 preschool-age kids, has actually been safeguarding at home in Florham Park, New Jersey, and was looking for a way to help throughout the pandemic.


“I connected to the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey and said I wished to help in any method I could,” said Bailey, who runs a retail store in nearby Livingston.

Through its dedicated helpline that matches volunteers with those looking for tech assistance, the federation paired Bailey with two ladies, one of them a Holocaust survivor. She has actually called and walked them through the steps of how to set up and utilize Zoom so they can remain in touch with their families.

“They appreciated the help and appeared to be in great spirits and OK with sheltering in location,” Bailey said. “Among the females, who is 92, has actually invited me to lunch when this is all over.”

It took a while for Mitzi Kreinberg, 93, of Livingston, to log on to Zoom. After receiving support from the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest’s innovation helpline, she lastly figured it out and then broadened her online connections utilizing other tools.

“I used Facebook, which I can access readily, to take part in classes, book reviews, and chats,” Kreinberg said.

In Ohio, a Virtual Conversations series with regional speakers has been well participated in, according to Marcy Paul, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Dayton.

Each online session starts with a brief “how-to” examining the basics of Zoom. Those requiring extra help can get it ahead of time individually.

Lots of senior citizens have actually taken their newfound understanding and used it to keep routine connections beyond official offerings.

Linda Novak, 73, had previously utilized her computer system just for email and Facebook. But she got aid from Amy Dolph, program administrator for her regional JCC in Dayton, to find out how to run her book club using Zoom.


“The book I had selected was the first one up for discussion, so Amy gave me some additional aid in learning how to run the meeting utilizing Zoom,” Novak stated. “Her tutorial was priceless.”

In Chicago, CJE SeniorLife, an affiliate of the Jewish United Fund of Chicago, had to revamp its programs to suit the age of coronavirus rapidly.

“Before COVID, the majority of our shows were face to face and in person. We didn’t have much of a virtual existence,” said Cathy Samata, manager of neighborhood engagement for CJE SeniorLife, which dishes out to 20,000 individuals in its community-based and domestic services.

The majority of those who access virtual shows live individually in the community, while the others are residents of CJE’s retirement home and assisted living facilities.

To make remaining in touch easier during the pandemic, CJE SeniorLife developed a dedicated Cyber Club landing page for its live Zoom programming, together with essential info and resources related to the COVID-19 crisis. In reaction to requests from neighborhood members, the company made instructional videos on topics such as how to order groceries and obtain library books online. The company is also live-streaming its programming into its assisted living homes and assisted living center.

“We shifted quickly and were up and running in a week and a half,” Samata stated.

“Innovation is key to bridging this space. It has been a true blessing to be required into this. It assists resolve a great deal of the seclusion concerns. We are, in fact seeing more people joining our programs now due to the fact that with them being online, we don’t have to deal with transportation concerns.”

The silver lining of the COVID-19 crisis is that it has actually incentivized Jewish federations and their agencies to develop new ways to sustain their neighborhoods, said Dayton’s, Marcy Paul. As soon as the pandemic has gone away, Paul foresees moving into a hybrid model of program shipment that will combine virtual outreach with in-person shows.

The shift to online interaction also has actually offered seniors with the inspiration to learn new abilities and conquer their isolation.

“I hope, like everyone else, the pandemic is over quickly,” stated Helene Gordon, 63, of Englewood, Ohio, who recently signed up with a birthday celebration through Zoom. “However, I feel these skills are so essential to keep individuals connected.”

This post was sponsored by and produced in collaboration with the Jewish Federations of The United States And Canada, which represents 146 local Jewish Federations and 300 network communities.

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