In India, Beating the Heat with a Social Club

July 9, 2013


For senior citizens in the Mumbai area, the JDC-supported “Cool Home” program isn’t just a chance to get out of the brutal summer sun into the air-conditioned comfort of a social hall in the Evelyn Peters Jewish Community Center (EPJCC).

It’s also a much-needed way for the elderly to connect with friends.

“The elderly, especially the singles, want to have social interaction with their peers and a Golden Age group was formed to address this need,” said Elijah Jacob, the director of JDC India.

The Golden Age group has a membership of more than 120 members; about 40 are active and attend monthly programs.

The Cool Home program is a sister initiative to JDC India’s previous “Warm Homes” program, which was discontinued because of space restrictions.

Warm Homes had been held for groups of 10 to 15 seniors in the homes of AJDC’s board members in areas with large elderly Jewish populations, like Dongri, Jacob Circle and the Andheri neighborhood in Mumbai’s western suburbs.

Cool Home will incorporate members of AJDC’s elderly welfare clients list for the first time.

The program’s first session, which will be held later this month, will include a talk on how to age gracefully, followed by a Q&A session and lunch. It will also include an arts and crafts program and a trip to see “Marathi Bana,” a musical.

The aging lecture will be delivered by Sailesh Mishra, the founder and director of the Silverline International Welfare Trust for the Elderly.

Following the inaugural session, Cool Home will be held on the third Sunday of every month at the EPJCC.

Jacob said the program is valuable for the elderly, not just for social interaction but also for encouraging artistic expression.

He related the story of a blind man, Samson Korlekar, and his wife, Diana, who’ve thrived through their involvement with this program a few  years ago.

“They’re knowledgeable about Judaism and speak to the group, encourage creative writing and poetry recitation, and relate interesting incidents that occurred in their daily lives with their peers,” Jacob said.

Many seniors have welcomed the program’s revival and have started registering for future events with JDC staff members in large numbers, he said.

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