One of The Rashi School’s unique advantages is the campus it shares with NewBridge on the Charles, a senior living community run by Hebrew SeniorLife. This special neighborship enables multigenerational programming within Rashi’s curriculum, starting from the time students are in Kindergarten to the day they graduate from Grade 8. This has been an essential part of our students’ experience, placed sadly on hiatus when the pandemic hit in 2020. The in-person partnership restarted in virtual form in the 2020-21 school year and then evolved to include some in-person programming, giving Middle School students the opportunity to once again participate in an elective that facilitates weekly visits to NewBridge’s memory care unit.
“I was in the Lower School program ‘mitzvah makers’, and that was fun because we got to connect with the residents and create friendships,” said Grade 7 student Lilah G., “and I did my bat mitzvah project with the memory care patients, whom we see now.” Students from Grades 6, 7 and 8 visit every Friday morning for games, music, or to simply spend quality time with the residents. Before beginning their visits, students were required to take an orientation session with NewBridge employees, preparing them for the rewards and challenges of interacting with individuals struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. “The NewBridge workers made us aware of how the residents may interact with us,” said Grade 6 student Brandon S. “We heard a story from the perspective of someone who has a family member at NewBridge,” said 6th grader Allie D. “It’s important to not only know how life is for the residents, but for their families as well.” Students noted that the start of the program was a time of adjustment. “When we first went, it was a little bit awkward because we were trying to figure out what to talk about, and who to sit next to, but that changed as we kept going and seeing the same residents every week. I know a few by name now, and I always look forward to seeing them, even if they don’t remember me,” explained Grade 7 student Hava M. “It makes me think about how I can have such an impact on someone’s day just by going and being myself.”
Now, with each student sharing a deep connection with the residents, the positive effect is evident to everyone. “Going to NewBridge is what we talk about when we speak of our core values. It’s a mitzvah, it helps brighten their days and lives,” said 7th grader Alex S. “Their moods change a lot during our time spent together. It makes a huge impact on their wellbeing, and the workers have said what a big difference it makes. They eat better, treatment is easier, and they’re just healthier,” said Lilah G. “It can be hard to interact with people who don’t remember you, but it’s important that we know how to,” added Allie D. “We go every week, and even if they don’t remember us, we remember them.”