The Fellowship is committed to providing Israel's needy elderly with everything they need to live out their final years with dignity and grace. In addition to food and medicine, this often means companionship - and sometimes, the best gift of all is laughter. Earlier this month, as part of The Fellowship's With Dignity and Fellowship program, we hosted a special event at an elderly club for ultra-Orthodox women in Ofakim.
The event – Laughing in Fellowship – was celebrated with the goal of "alleviating loneliness" for the elderly women who regularly visit the club, and for other elderly ultra-Orthodox women in the city. The women who attend this elderly club live lives of daily routine characterized by religious formality. In addition, their sons and daughters have many children of their own, and are, in turn, very busy raising their children and working. They don't have much time to visit their mothers very often. The event provided the women with an opportunity to meet other women their own age, and to participate in activities together with other women who are in the same situation, which helped alleviate loneliness and was a nice change from the women's usual routines.
Approximately 60 women came to the club for the event. Some of these women participate in the club's activities on a regular basis, and some came to the club for the first time because of the event. As the women gathered together, the workshop moderator explained that as far as the brain is concerned, it doesn't matter whether our laughter is genuine or not. Any kind of laughter has a positive effect on our physiological condition and our health. Music played in the background and most of the women got up from their chairs and began dancing. This was followed by different laughing exercises accompanied by music.
The women laughed and were happy. Even some of the shyer women joined in. It was especially exciting as the oldest women, after much hesitation, decided to join the group and participate in the activities. One of the women came to the club with a walker. In her bag she carried a beautiful, sparkling long dress, which she changed into and wore during the activities. She laughed and danced happily - all without the accompaniment of her walker! This is a woman who, in the past, used to sit in her home and not go out anywhere. Even in her home, she would walk with a walker.
During the course of the event, several women said how happy they were because of the event. They had nothing but praise for The Fellowship and were grateful for the opportunity the workshop offered them. They wanted to know if they could have similar activities on a regular basis with the workshop moderator.
After an hour of laughter and dancing, the women gathered around a table that was full of cakes, cookies, pastries, and various snacks. After a short rest, the moderator continued with another hour of dancing and different laughter exercises. The women didn't get tired; they continued to dance and rejoice!