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Building Strong Relationships With Seniors – Ten Kavod Sderot Region
-The Story of Moshe Michael and Fanny Teperman
Moshe Michael joined United Hatzalah in October of 2020. He is 28 years old and a dedicated Ten Kavod volunteer. Moshe works as a photographer and videographer and is currently studying film and cinematography at Sapir college. He lives in Kfar Aza, a kibbutz in the Sha’ar HaNegev regional council. Once a week, as part of the Ten Kavod project, Moshe visits a senior citizen named Fanny who lives in the nearby Kibbutz Mefalsim. The pair had originally met when Moshe lived in the same kibbutz a few years ago. Their relationship has grown since then, thanks to their weekly Ten Kavod visits. “It’s hard balancing work and school, but I always make time for visiting Fanny, because it’s the highlight of both of our weeks,” explained Moshe.
A little more than a year ago, Moshe heard about the Ten Kavod project and joined immediately. He felt strongly about the project and its mission. Moshe said, “Many people in the elderly community don’t have grandchildren or family to speak with so they’re missing an ear to listen to them and a soul to connect with. Also from the medical perspective, it’s important to check on them and make sure that they’re healthy and doing what they need to do to stay healthy. I felt that I was capable of helping and I wanted to make a senior person happy. I wanted to have long conversations with them and give them a chance to share their story. I was always so close to my grandmother, so joining Ten Kavod seemed natural to me.”
“Each Wednesday afternoon, I come to Fanny’s house for around 2 to 3 hours. Each one of our meetings together is so memorable. We usually eat something and drink coffee. If the weather is nice, we’ll sit outside in the garden. Fanny always gives me cuttings from her plants, which I take home and plant in my garden. She loves nature, so sometimes we’ll watch the nature channel on TV. Fanny’s late husband was a photographer, like me, so a big project that we’ve been doing is going through all of her photo albums and pictures, and organizing them. Browsing through the photos brings on lots of nostalgia, and she’ll share her memories with me. It’s a big project because of the large quantity of film, but it is very exciting, and we both thoroughly enjoy it. Fanny has a lot of decorative pieces around her house from places she’s traveled to with her late husband, who she loved dearly. She tells me stories from their travels together and about the places they visited and brought the pieces back from. I feel that it’s important to hear her stories and to give her the opportunity to share, and I enjoy listening.”
“I love the relationship that Fanny and I have built together. She is like a grandmother figure to me. I call her Savta and she calls me grandson. She is an amazing person and has a very interesting life story. I feel fortunate that she is comfortable sharing her stories and memories with me. Even during the week, we’ll send each other videos and pictures on Whatsapp and keep in touch. Fanny and I are true friends and I will cherish our relationship for life.”
Moshe urges others in the community to join the program, “United Hatzalah is an incredible organization and Ten Kavod is an important and meaningful project. I think that not so many people realize the importance of spending time with the older community and showing them that we care about them, are there for them, and will not leave them behind. I urge more people to join this project because it fills the seniors we visit with joy and warmth. Even if it’s only for a few minutes each time, to say hi, and to check to make sure they are doing okay, it means so much to them.”
Fanny Teperman is 80 years old and is a holocaust survivor. She was born in France in 1941 and lived as a Muslim while keeping her Jewish identity a secret to protect herself from the Nazis. Her father was a Moroccan Muslim but had converted to Judaism to marry her mother. When she was 8-years-old, Fanny moved to Brazil with her family. There, she was part of the Zionist youth programs and dreamt of making Aliyah. When Fanny was 20-years-old, she finally moved to Israel to Kibbutz Mefalsim, where she met her husband and eventually got married.
Fanny still lives on that same kibbutz now. “I have three amazing children and eight sweet grandchildren. All of my grandchildren, except for one, live here with me on the kibbutz. We have dinner together every Friday night. That, and my meeting with Moshe on Wednesdays, are the highlights of my week.”
Fanny is retired but has had many different jobs over the years. “My favorite job was working with babies. For 32 years, I took care of the babies on the kibbutz until they were ready to go to kindergarten. It was my favorite job out of all. I retired a little over ten years ago and haven’t worked since. Despite this, there’s always something to do. I take care of my cat Luna, tend to my garden, watch television, do laundry, and have coffee with friends.”
“On Wednesdays, Moshe comes and checks my vitals, like blood sugar and blood pressure. I have had many transplants and operations in the past, so Moshe takes care of me. He is the sweetest boy and I love him like a grandson. Our meetings together are always the greatest. He has such a positive outlook on life, which is so nice to see. I love having conversations with him. The funny thing is, Moshe is learning photography just like my late husband did. My husband was the greatest photographer. I have so many pictures from him in my house that it’s like a museum. Moshe and I have started a project together to organize the photos into albums. However, we haven’t even got to the albums yet because we are still in the sorting stages. There are so many pictures to go through; it will probably take some time.”
Fanny mentioned how much she enjoys the Ten Kavod visits and the program in general. “I truly believe in mutual respect between people, no matter what their beliefs or religions. I believe that people should help their communities and help each other. This project is based on those same values that I am so passionate about, so I think it’s a great program and I am glad to be a part of it.”
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