Summer Mitzvah Helps Bridge the Generation Gap

There are some connections that just pull on your heartstrings. One of the most touching connections occurred this past July, when Jewish Family Services (JFS) partnered with the Jewish Community Center’s Camp Shalom for a Mitzvah Mission. The plan for the mission was quite simple ~ bring the children and seniors together for a day of crafts, snacks, and fun. Yet, this simple program resulted in a very meaningful connection between a five year old little girl and one of the residents.

Camper Lana Dorf excitedly worked on a project with One Lincoln Park resident Dottie Engelhardt. Together they created a power bead bracelet. Why are they called this? We call them power bead bracelets because we believe that everyone has more power and strength when experiences are shared with friends. Little did we know how powerful this bracelet would prove to be.

As the carefree days of summer came to an end, the JCC’s Early Childhood program began working on a new project. The children were busy making Rosh Hashanah cards for JFS’s outreach bags, which are distributed to seniors throughout the community who live in a continuum of care facility or who live independently and may be isolated. As the children were making their cards, Lana made it very clear that her card was to go to “Miss Dottie.” Normally the cards are not designated for specific people, but we had our orders! And so, Miss Dottie received Lana’s card. Even though several months had passed by, it is heartwarming to know that a morning of making bracelets ~ and Miss Dottie ~ remained in the mind of this sweet little girl.

Another resident showed up for the Mitzvah Mission shortly before it ended. We were informed this resident rarely left her apartment or engaged with other people. That day was different. We watched in amazement as she participated with the children, making crafts and having fun. It was incredibly special to see the resident come out of her shell. What a beautiful reminder that everything we do – no matter how small it may seem – can make a huge difference in the lives of others. JFS looks forward to more Mitzvah Missions to help create bonds across the generations and make an impact on the community.

For more information on how you can help JFS make a difference, please contact Tara Feiner, JFS Director at (937) 401-1546 or

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