Volunteering with Mexico’s Elderly Citizens

To mark the International Day of Older Persons, we visit ICJW’s affiliates in Mexico to hear about the support provided by Jewish volunteers in elderly homes, and the facilities provided for older persons in the Jewish community.

For the last 9 years, Becky Stern has worked at two elderly homes as part of “Voluntarias judeo-mexicanas”, one of ICJW’s two affiliates in Mexico.  

“I started working in Corazon de Anciano, a place where people attended weekly to experience seminars and lectures directed towards the needs of the community.  While I was working there, I could easily identify two types of scenarios that was experienced by the elderly women within the community.

Initially I noticed multiple cases of mistreatment, including physical and mental abuse that came from close family members. On the other hand, there were some who expressed gratitude and love from family and friends. My job was to provide emotional support through activities such as exercises, lectures, arts and crafts and mediation.  I was astonished by the results that we developed within the first group. These members of the community were able to have a better sense of self-security and care after every weekly session.   

Listening to the elderly men within the community describing multiple related issues, gave confidence to the women to raise their voices and be heard. As expected, there were several emotions expressed within each session, including as tears of joy.  Sadly, due to the COVID pandemic, we had to discontinue those seminars.

A few months ago, we restarted our activities, in a different complex called “Rosa Mistica”. This is a government-assisted retirement home, where elderly people live and the vast majority are women. I could sense a general feeling of sadness and loneliness upon our first visit. They would not talk about their families and rarely received visits from them.

Our volunteers attend “Rosa Mistica” twice each month, and we spend one hour providing different activities such as dancing, singing, yoga (e.g. Chair exercises) and meditations. The purpose of this is to help them find joy in every moment that we are sharing. We also celebrate their birthdays, holidays and every special occasion.

I truly believe that these experiences help us build a better world. Every small contribution will give back happiness and joy. After each visit, we feel blessed and grateful for the time shared with these women. I am grateful of being part of this beautiful project and I would like to extend my most sincere appreciation to the other women volunteers who kindly open their hearts.

The Eishel – Our Home by Ruthy Atri

More than 75 years ago in Mexico, a group of generous people had the vision to establish a place for the elderly to live. They decided on Cuernavaca, “the city of eternal spring” as an ideal site for it.

Through property donations,  as well as with the support of members of the Ashkenazi Kehilla, this institution was born, providing all the needs required by our elderly members. It was named Eishel, which in biblical terms means: home, food and shelter, as well as the tamarisk tree that appears in the logo.

Over the years, the Eishel has become accessible to the entire elderly Mexican Jewish community, opening its doors to all the grandparents who need constant care with the best  quality of life available. There is no time for boredom there, because the Eishel provides activities that include ceramics, gardening, handcrafts, literary expression workshops and gymnastics, among others activities. Its facilites include a synagogue and a health clinic, which additionally offers dental care. Kosher meals are served to everybody. All Jewish and Mexican holidays are celebrated.

The Eishel, our home, is the best environment for everyone that believes that it is never too late to learn, have fun, make friends, and feel young at heart.