Since 1962, Yad LaKashish have pioneered a model for positive aging, advocating for members of the elderly community in Jerusalem and working to advance positive attitudes about their place in society. The organization primarily serves Jewish immigrants, many of whom are Holocaust survivors. Through their work, they provide seniors with stimulating work opportunities, a community environment, and invaluable support services. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Yad LaKashish were able to continue providing their beneficiaries with financial aid, food assistance, and dental care, thanks to a $20,000 grant from The Sephardic Foundation on Aging (SFOA) in December 2020.
Prior to the pandemic, Yad LaKashish reached 300 beneficiaries each year. This fell to 220 during the pandemic but has since bounced back to 270. SFOA’s $20,000 grant allowed Yad LaKashish to continue sending $150 monthly stipends to these beneficiaries as well as an additional $300 for the year in emergency COVID relief. These financial payments represented a 30% boost on elderly payments from the government. Normally, program participants receive on-the-job training by professional artists and become part of a team of fellow elderly artisans. Together, they produce a range of Judaica and gifts, from ceramics to jewelry to metalwork to papier-mâché to textiles – all at a high level of craftsmanship. These items are sold onsite and in online gift shops, the proceeds of which are invested back into Yad LaKashish’s operations.
Although the pandemic forced Yad LaKashish to close workshops, program providers maintained communication with the elderly by sending work home and providing hot meals. In doing so, they helped abate boredom and safeguard their elderly artisans’ mental and physical health.
Thanks to SFOA’s support, Yad LaKashish has continued to be a boon for the elderly community of Jerusalem. “We wouldn’t have been able to give people these stipends without SFOA,” admitted Resource Development Consultant David Broza, “it made a real difference in their lives.” Yad LaKashish is nothing short of a lifeline for the most vulnerable elderly, providing them not only with a new skill set, but more importantly social interaction and a sense of purpose.