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Rabbi Dovid Polter shares how Shabbat Shalom by Phone is helping older adults who are isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I began Shabbat Shalom by Phone 2011 as community chaplain of Jewish Senior Life’s Community Chaplaincy and Outreach Program. This program is a service of Jewish Senior Life and provides much needed outreach to older adults who are living in a variety of settings, including assisted living and nursing home communities.

Shabbat Shalom by Phone began with students of a local Jewish day school placing weekly calls to local older adults and engaging them in brief discussion culminating with a warm Shabbat Shalom wish. Those who received these phone calls were grateful and developed close relationships with the students.

In 2019, under the same name, this project expanded into a seamless, easy-to-use format using a conference call line with a pre-recorded message that could be accessed by phone at any time. This format fits well for those who do not have internet access as almost everyone has the ability to use a telephone. My weekly inspirational words are followed by a warm Jewish melody. The message continues to inspire many as they prepare to usher in their Shabbat and weekend.

This program has been especially helpful to older adults who are more isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Shabbat Shalom by Phone greeting may be someone’s only Jewish content for the week.

During the brief pre-recorded message, listeners gain comfort and insight. They enjoy a familiar voice weaving together current times with the beauty of the Torah.

“It is so convenient and practical to call in and hear a message of hope and resilience” said one of the callers.

Shabbat Shalom by Phone is available for all community members at no cost. For weekly inspiration, call Shabbat Shalom by Phone toll free at (605) 313-4107 Access code: 270368#. Press # to hear the most recent recorded message.

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