The residents had every resource – medications, supplies, aides, nurses, wheelchairs and walkers – available to them that they always have at The Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield, CT, when they made the journey of a lifetime to the Jewish home: Jerusalem.
While other senior groups have made the trip, it is rare for residents of a Skilled Nursing organization, like The Jewish Home, to make the journey. “People think once you’re in a nursing home, you can’t do things like this anymore,” said Deana Bedor, Executive Assistant to the President and CEO and participant in the trip, “But the residents were determined it was going to happen and they proved [those people] wrong. On the trip they had more energy than the staff. They didn’t want to miss anything.”
To get ready for the 10-day trip that included dawn until dusk sight-seeing, residents built up their strength with extra walking and working out and took some community trips to work on getting up and down the bus stairs and walking around different terrain. On the trip, each resident had his or her own aide, or “buddy.” The buddies sat together on the plane and were roommates. As one would imagine, some strong bonds formed between the buddies, but also among all 28 folks (residents, staff and people from the community) who made the journey together.
Next Year Jerusalem
While many folks record video of their travels, the travelers from The Jewish Home have a feature film that documents their experience. The film, Next Year Jerusalem, chronicles the preparation for the trip, the beautiful experience itself, and the return to The Jewish Home. The film was shot and directed by David Gaynes who at one time was a junior volunteer at The Jewish Home. It premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival in April. Both screenings were sold out and three residents made the trip to walk (and wheel) the red carpet. “They were interviewed and felt like movie stars,” Deana said. In June there will be events and screenings at theaters in Farifield and Bridgeport, CT. You can learn more about the film on its Facebook page.