By Katherine Tick

Living Our Jewish Values is the new initiative we are undertaking, in partnership with the rabbis from the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, to strengthen the feeling of community and to enrich the spiritual experience for residents and their families, staff, and volunteers. This includes programs, activities, and events that are based on essential Jewish values, yet encompassing secular and other faiths’ important holidays and commemorations, thus creating a kind of ‘meeting place.’ Knowing that our Jewish values are truly universal in nature allows us to create bridges of understanding that lead to more meaningful experiences for everyone.

Each month we focus on a specific theme or value. In February, we applied the value of Lomed M’Kulam (Learning from Everyone) as we celebrated Lunar New Year, acknowledged Black History Month, and enjoyed Sweetheart Day. Using intentional gatherings to learn from one another, we came away enriched and enlivened.

For example, residents saw several documentaries that explored the Immigrant experience as a part of our Lunar New Year festivities. We delved into how our Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese New Year celebrations differ, as well as understanding the history of Chinese Americans with a focus on the political, social, economic, and cultural influences many have made in America. Of course, no Lunar New Year celebration would be complete without a nod to the famous San Francisco parades!

Diving into Black History Month, our programming featured important changemakers. We learned about Dr. Mae Jamison, one of the first women—and the only Black woman—astronauts, studied the impact made by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and explored the life of Katherine Johnson, whose important work became the center of the movie Hidden Figures. The Byer Square Theatre screened Eyes on the Prize, the critically acclaimed documentary on civil rights, and the Oscar-nominated film The Tragedy of Macbeth starring Denzel Washington. Just One of Those Things, a documentary exploring the extraordinary artistry of Ella Fitzgerald, met with great fanfare. Finally, we talked about the impact President Barack Obama has made in his commitment to nourish future leaders and watched Becoming, the film memoir of first lady Michelle Obama.

Making our values visible is making a difference too! Our life enrichments teams have heard from staff and residents alike that seeing a new poster on display each week that highlights a person who LIVED the value we are exploring this month has been impactful and inspiring. We hope you are as moved as all of us have been seeing this initiative come to life.

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