Elisheva is a 42-year-old wife and mother of 5 who made Aliyah with her family to Neve Daniel in recent years. She studies nursing at the Hadassah school of nursing and volunteers as an EMT for United Hatzalah, all while managing her family.
Elisheva had always wanted to go into the medical field, and once arriving in Israel, taking the United Hatzalah EMT course was the perfect segway into it. “I thoroughly enjoyed the course, and in doing so, I learned many useful skills that will help me as a nurse as well.”
Word of the Ten Kavod project reached Elisheva through word of mouth, even before she joined the organization as an EMT, almost three years ago. “It sounded like such a great volunteer activity and a good thing for the organization to be doing and spending their time and resources on expanding it.”
“I love old people, ” Elisheva said with a smile, “My grandmother with Alzheimer’s lives with us so I guess it’s made me more sensitive to senior citizens who live alone. I also think the socialization the volunteers provide helps impact their health and wellbeing.”
A little more than a year ago, Elisheva started volunteering for Ten Kavod and was paired up with Chaya Peleg who is 86-years-old. “Chaya is one of the more active and independent senior citizens. She lives with her daughter and son-in-law and goes to the Elderly Day Center three mornings a week. However, when she is home, her daughter and son-in-law are usually busy and not there to spend time with her. So I still feel like she’s often lonely.”
When Elisheva and Chaya meet each Thursday, they decide on what to do based on the weather and what Chaya is feeling up to doing. “Chaya had skin cancer that left a permanent chronic wound on her leg. It affects her mobility and is often painful. If Chaya is feeling okay, then we may go for a walk or sit by a cafe. If not, we’ll stay at her house and drink coffee with cookies that Chaya will put out for us. We hang out and talk about her week, or what I’m up to with school. Sometimes, I bring my 7-month-old baby to join us.”
The more the duo has gotten to know each other, the more they feel comfortable with each other to open up. “I feel like we have a really deep connection,” said Elisheva, “When Chaya’s struggling a lot from her leg wound, she expresses her frustration and pain to me. It’s nice to know that I’m a safe outlet for her. I understand that she doesn’t want to burden her family by telling them about her pain, however, I do try to convince her to let them know sometimes as well.”
The meetings that are the most memorable for Elisheva are ones where Chaya talks about her family and her deep familial roots here in Israel. “Chaya’s parents moved to Israel before the establishment of the state. Her family was one of the first families to live in Bnei Brak. I learn lots of fascinating history from Chaya.”
“I think I gain a lot from these visits and I have started to really look forward to them,” Elisheva explained. “As a new Olah, my visits with Chaya have benefited me in terms of mastering the new language because I don’t have so many other opportunities to improve by having long conversations in Hebrew. Also, as I am a nursing student, Chaya helped me get a better perspective on older patients. She highlights the struggle they have with the health system and the frustrating situations that are common for senior citizens like her to experience. I think this exposure will help me be a better nurse because I now understand how important patience and cooperation with the older population is.“
Some weeks Elisheva is overloaded with school work and exams, but nonetheless, she will always make time for Chaya. “At the end of the day, I’m always happy to visit Chaya and I feel enriched after spending time with her.”
Chaya is 86-years-old and lives in Efrat with her daughter and son-in-law. Chaya’s family has been in Israel since 1924 when her parents made Aliyah from Poland to Bnei Brak. Her family has a very interesting history and a strong Zionistic view. Some of Chaya’s family members fought in the war during British rule for the independence of the state.
Chaya’s family later moved from Bnei Brak to Tel Aviv, where Chaya was eventually born. Throughout the years, she lived in many cities in Israel such as Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beer Sheva, and now Efrat.
Chaya reminisced about her past and said, “I was once married, and I used to work as a secretary in a Youth village.”
“When Elisheva comes to visit on Thursdays, we hang out like old friends,” explains Chaya. “We talk, we share advice, we go out for walks, and Elisheva helps me with anything I need. She brings me to the clinic to pick up equipment for my bandage. I had an operation done on my leg to get rid of cancer and I now need to dress the wound with things I get from the clinic. The operation has also left me with difficulty walking at times.”
“Each encounter with Elisheva is excellent. There was one time she brought me to her house and I met her children and her husband. It was so sweet. I also really enjoy it when we go to the cafe to drink coffee together.”
Chaya only has praise for Elisheva, “Elisheva is amazing, there are not many people like her. I know a lot of people, but not like Elisheva. With Ten Kavod, Elisheva really does a great honor.”
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