The Yeshiva That Inspired Our Rabbis

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By: Mirna Arazi

It was no accident that a group of our community’s seniors found themselves laughing, dancing and enjoying themselves, on Tuesday, January 4th. In a special event, organized by the Mental Health Resource service of the Sephardic Bikur Holim, volunteers committed themselves to bring joy to the distinguished grandparents and great-grandparents who helped shape our community.

“It’s beautiful… it’s helpful to the older people, and to everyone,” said Esther Abadie, one of the seniors who participated.

“If you have this every week, I won’t have to go to Florida!” another participant enthused.

 The group of volunteers who headed this very special event worked diligently with the directors of MHR, graciously giving their time to lend a helping hand. Among them were, Deborah Chehebar, Andi Blanco, Linda Cohen, Vera Gindi, Lilly Kassin, Rachel Safdeye, Susan Sutton, Louise Ashear and Julie Sherr.

The day featured an outstanding speech by Joseph Matalon, LMSW on the topic “Laughter is the Best Medicine”.

“We ate, we sang, we enjoyed being with friends, and, most importantly, we laughed all afternoon,” said Deborah Chehebar, one of the volunteers.

The program began with “Laughter Yoga with Jonny.” Jonny Zemmol, a laughter yoga therapist, incorporated moving laughter, imagination and motion.  The seniors were moving their bodies while laughing and they were having a blast. Jonny was amazing and made everyone laugh no matter what age they were.

The program then moved on to a skit presented by Marilyn Ashkenazie and her daughter Michelle, which had everyone participating and adding their own experiences. Brenda Escava delighted many seniors with caricatures to take home.

“I felt like I was queen for the day,” said one senior.

The Mental Health Resource of SBH hopes to repeat this event in the future to bring more smiles and laughter to the senior members of our community.