‘Havdalah of Connection’ focuses on aging parents


For families grappling with how to deal with aging parents, Congregation Shaare Emeth’s Caring Committee has a message: You are not alone.

The congregation’s “Havdalah of Connection” program, presents “You and Your Aging Parent” from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29. The service is open to the community.


Leah Rubin, former chair of the Caring Committee said the program was instituted to offer a sense of support and connection with others facing similar family issues.

“We have all felt that the issues that we’ve chosen to cover, autism and addiction this past spring, aging parents this summer and mental illness in the fall, are such heavy burdens to bear. They are isolating and saddening. You can go to services and still not feel like anyone gets what you’re dealing with.” “The Havdalah services are our personal attempt to address how heavy these burdens are and how much we benefit by bringing them into a shared space,” she said.

The idea for the programs arose after current committee chair Marsha Koski read an article in Lilith Magazine by Cantor Karen Gilat. The author, who has two autistic children, suggested welcoming families dealing with autism to Havdalah services. “As Cantor Gilat put it, Havdalah honors difference and teaches that the world was created through difference,” Rubin said.

That message moved the Caring Committee and Rabbi Annie Belford (then the group’s rabbinic advisor) to plan services for a variety of topics relevant to families in the community.

Rubin said the upcoming topic of aging parents is one that her family knows well. “From my personal experience first with my own parents, and now with my in-laws, I know the challenges this brings,” she said. “It’s amazing how far this issue reaches into a family and how much stress it creates on the caregivers. The whole family is impacted — grandchildren included. The issue is only going to become more problematic in the community because of the aging population.”

Lori Zimmerman, a licensed clinical social worker, and a senior information referral specialist with ElderLink St. Louis, will speak at the service.

Members of the audience will also be encouraged to share their stories after the service.

“This program connects people who share a common journey. We know we can learn from each other, and we will look at the possibility of forming a support group,” said Rubin. “As Marsha [Koski] put it, “We can offer support, connection, acceptance and hope.”

Both generations are welcomed to attend “You and Your Aging Parent,” which will includ a service and small group discussions. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call 314-569-0010 or Marsha Koski at 314-997-0177.

A “Havdalah of Connection” service on mental illness will take place Nov. 14.