Local | Senior Lifestyle

Tracing Roots celebrates two years linking teens, seniors

Handmaker resident Les Waldman, third from left, with the Gibly family: Haya, Yochanan, Zakai, Raquel, Nati and Ayelet, at the April 30 Tracing Roots and Building Trees reception at Handmaker. (Nanci Levy)

Tracing Roots and Building Trees, an intergenerational program that brings together residents of Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging with students from Tucson Hebrew High, wrapped up its second year with a reception at Handmaker on Sunday, April 30.  Fifteen Handmaker residents and 13 teens participated in the program, which is funded by a “Better Together” grant from a national philanthropist. About 75 people attended the reception.

Teens are paired with one or two Handmaker residents for the program year. As part of their monthly meetings, the participants created a cookbook, “L’dor v’dor: From Generation to Generation. Stories and memories around family and food.”

(L-R) Carol Zuckert, Erika Spivack and Marcie Sutland at Handmaker on Feb. 12.
(Nanci Levy)

Speaking at the event, Erika Spivak, a teen participating for her second year, said, “I think that teens and seniors don’t get the opportunity to talk together and have conversations as much as we should. In getting to know Marcie [Sutland] and Carol [Zuckert], I realized … we have so much in common. I enjoyed learning about them and their histories. I got far more out of [the program] than I expected.”

Teen participant Yochanan Gibly said, “When I signed up for this I didn’t know what to expect…I was amazed by the programming. It was great the way they prompted conversations so that we could learn more about these amazing people.”

Handmaker resident Les Waldman, who was paired with Gibly, said, “When you look at teens on TV today, it doesn’t look real good for the future. But then you meet someone like Yochanan. He is an all-American boy. He gives me hope for the future knowing that there are teens like him in the world to carry on our traditions.”

Copies of the cookbook are available for $20; proceeds will help fund future intergenerational projects. Contact Nanci Levy, community outreach coordinator at Handmaker, at 322-3632 or nlevy@handmaker.org, or Sharon Glassberg, Hebrew High principal and vice president at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, at 577-9393 or sglassberg@jfsa.org.