Sam’s heart beats rhythm through his Jewish soul. His fondest memory is of sitting on the edge of his friend’s grandmother’s bed, guitar on knee, singing songs that transported the elderly woman back to her past. Though Alzheimer’s made it difficult for her to recognize the once-familiar tunes, her face still lit up with joy. At that moment, Sam realized that he could combine his two loves: music and helping people.
Already a volunteer at a Federation-supported nursing home for several years, Sam turned his capstone project for his Jewish day school into a successful fundraiser at a local theater to help bring music therapy to the home’s elderly residents.
Songs of Experience
Now in high school, Sam can see what a difference his efforts have made. Music calms agitated residents, soothing their pain. In people suffering memory loss, hearing favorite songs from their youth is clinically proven to recall that which has long been forgotten.
“Working with the elderly and seeing their responses to music amazes me to no end,” Sam says. “Even the most secluded can be drawn out from their shells with just the strum of a guitar or the key of a piano.”
His passion to use his musical talents for good is firmly rooted in the Jewish values he learned through Federation. “To me, being Jewish is all about community. The morals and lessons taught in the Torah are so important and play a large role in my life. They help to form the bond between myself and other Jews both in my community and around the world,” he says.
This commitment shines through to all who know him. In addition to budgeting, planning and coordinating the music program, Sam also serves on the board of a local Jewish youth group. As the community life director at the nursing home says, “In Hebrew, gemilut chasadim refers to physical acts of caring, lovingkindness - using your time, talents, energy, and efforts to fix the world in any and every way possible. Sam’s dedication and heart to serve reflects that. “