After two days in Romania and we are thriving and constantly falling asleep on bus/car rides!!! But it’s because we’ve done so many cool things and met so many people in the Jewish community here. We took a tour of Bucharest, saw the famous spots, saw the Jewish Social Welfare center, the local JCC, a Jewish kindergarten and home for elderly, plus other things.
One of the most impactful things we’ve done in the past two days here has been the home visits and warm homes where we split up into groups and visit people within the community at their homes to get a sense of their lives and what the Jewish community in the city has meant to them.
Growing up in the Kansas City Jewish community, volunteering at the local retirement home, Village Shalom, was one of my favorite ways to earn community service hours. With all this experience under my belt, I was especially looking forward to the home visit with the elderly in the Bucharest Jewish community.
The first home my group visited housed a 96-year-old woman named Anne*. Not only was Anne bed-ridden for the past 10 years due to injuries and lack of surgical solutions she was also blind and very hard of hearing. Despite all of this, Anne remained in high spirits. When we walked into her home “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran was playing on the radio and we were greeted by both a pet dog and cat- making us all feel at home. She was excited to meet us and was fluent in English, German and French. She spoke about the rock and roll music she loved, American politics and her friends in Romania that visit her weekly. She didn’t let the pains of aging bring her down.
After visiting Anne, we walked over to our next home visit. Rose*, a sharp-tonged 87-year-old Romanian woman welcomed us into our home. She was born and raised in Romania and worked for many years as a journalist and then the head of a marketing firm. She shared with us stories of love, success and tragedy.
Even though we were meeting both of these women for the first time, by the end, it felt like we were spending time with our own grandparents. It has definitely been a very impactful part of our trip! And now we are looking forward to our Bulgarian adventures for the rest of the trip!
*name changed for community members' privacy.