On Thursday, October 24, the second and fourth grade students from Kinneret Day School (KDS) in Riverdale visited with Riverdale Senior Services (RSS) as part of their International Day celebration.
Barbara Denson, community garden coordinator for RSS, explained, “International Day was organized by the members of RSS. They wanted to celebrate the diversity of the membership at RSS and so they arranged for a full day to celebrate!”
In her capacity as the intergenerational liaison for RSS, Denson regularly coordinates a number of programs where young people are invited to engage with the adults in a variety of activities. “KDS is a regular participant with our membership. The second-grade class has been coming monthly for a number of years to do projects. For International Day, they joined the members and colored flags representing countries from around the world. Those flags are displayed in the main area of the center, along with pictures of the children with the RSS member at their table.” Denson said that the fourth graders added to the program by singing one song about Israel, “Ein Li Eretz Acheret,” and a pre-Chanukah song of “Light One Candle.”
“With our fourth grade singing and our second grade preparing much of the decor, we are continually proud of our connection with the Riverdale Senior Center, which is housed in the same building as our school. Our second grade visits monthly, our choir performs there and I am lucky to teach at the RSS monthly,” shared Rabbi Aaron Frank, KDS head of school.
RSS is a multi-ethnic senior center, where members originate from all over the world. October 24 is the day when the United Nations Charter was recognized and when the UN celebrates its anniversary. The program included an international dessert bar featuring desserts from around the globe prepared by RSS members, a display of cultural items and memorabilia across all the continents, a variety of performances including scenes from “Fiddler on the Roof” and a fashion show representing costumes from around the world.
Margie Schustack, director of communications and marketing for RSS, noted, “We are fortunate to have Kinneret right across the hall from RSS. As a result, we have developed a relationship between the two organizations that has lasted for over 15 years!”
Schustack continued, “Our intergenerational programs are integrated into the monthly schedule. The second graders come to RSS once a month, for what we call our grandparenting program. The class is divided into small groups and each group has an RSS member that sits with them to do a project. Some projects include making the flags for International Day, celebrating the holidays, talking about where our families come from or learning about plants, planting and the environment.”
“Kinneret is one of RSS’s most important partners,” added Schustack. “The relationship with Kinneret is meaningful to the organization in a couple of ways. First, the RSS members get a lot of joy out of being with the youngsters, doing projects and talking with them about their lives. But the benefit also goes the other way. The children love having an older adult who gives them their full attention and it’s wonderful for the RSS members to be able to offer gained wisdom from their combined life experiences. This positive exchange between the generations strengthens our community and produces life lessons for all.”
“As we continue to work with our neighbors at the Senior Center, it points to the importance of our children understanding the breadth of their connections to the community here in the Bronx,” added Rabbi Frank. “By participating, it teaches their connection to the local community and also adds a voice in the international celebration at RSS.”
By Judy Berger