JFS Perspectives

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Mike Korn: Broadening a Jewish Connection for Older Adults

Mike Korn: Broadening a Jewish Connection for Older Adults

Mike KornFor the past three years Mike Korn has served as a JFS volunteer para-chaplain, leading Shabbat services for the residents of HighPointe Assisted Living & Memory Care. Mike’s engaging biweekly and holiday services regularly attract both Jewish and non-Jewish residents.

Wanting to enrich his group’s connection with the greater Jewish community, Mike collaborated with HighPointe staff to offer a new opportunity this summer. “I was familiar with the Mizel Museum, and we decided a visit might be a great experience for our regular group, and appeal to other residents as well.”

He scheduled an hour-long tour of the museum’s core exhibit, 4,000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks. The interactive journey through Jewish history and heritage includes vibrant art installations, rare artifacts, digital media, and photography that brings Jewish history to life.

It was an inspiring outing. Mike’s group included ten residents of varied faiths, several of their family members, and HighPointe Activities Director, Leslie Rusher. “Mike came to us with an idea for a new activity. We loved it and said let’s make this happen,” recalls Leslie, expressing that Mike went above and beyond to ensure the trip was inclusive for any resident who wanted to participate. “The JFS para-chaplain program means so much,” said Leslie. “Mike’s Shabbat services help our Jewish residents feel comfortable and at home, and our partnership with JFS and Mike helps us to provide meaningful and stimulating activities for all residents who seek a greater connection to the Jewish community.”

“Our group loved visiting the museum,” said Mike. “The Jewish attendees enjoyed the creative, dynamic expression of their heritage, and non-Jewish participants received an eye-opening immersion into Jewish culture. It was so interesting, everyone was buzzing with excitement on the bus back to HighPointe.”

HighPointe group at Mizel MuseumThe outing was such a success, wheels are already in motion for a September trip to Denver’s Babi Yar Memorial Park. The 27-acre cultural landscape, commemorating the thousands of Ukrainian Jews and others who were victims of the Nazi massacre in Kiev, will provide a shared opportunity for residents to reflect on the impact of the Holocaust on Russian Jews.

Mike is deeply committed to the JFS para-chaplain program and grateful for the opportunity to help Jewish residents at HighPointe explore their heritage. “I enjoy working with older adults in a Jewish context and giving residents new ways to connect with their Judaism.” Mike’s role as a volunteer para-chaplain also provides him with a profound personal benefit. “As a result of leading services and field trips, my own knowledge of Torah has grown.”

If you are interested in learning more and becoming involved in the para-chaplain program at JFS, please contact Nancy Benyamin at 720.248.4642.


META DESCRIPTION: Jewish Family Service of Colorado volunteer para-chaplain, Mike Korn, found a way to enrich the connection with the greater Jewish community for the residents at HighPointe Assisted Living & Memory Care.