Helping America's Most Vulnerable

Kathy's Faith

Judaism, Her Way

Kathy is a resident at the Sawyer Street Group Home where has lived for 14 years. She is an active participant in the household and attends the daily Wellness group. She comes for the meditation and the exercise and always adds her favorite exercises to the line up.

Religion and spiritual practice is important for many of the women at Sawyer Street. Staff is encouraging and participates with them. Some of the women attend services, some pray in their rooms. Some pray at meals and sing with others in their home.

Kathy practices Judaism, reading from prayer books and listening to traditional Klezmer music. Klezmer can be raucous and joyful, a danceable kind of music often accompanied by accordion and violins. Kathy dances in her room and loves when others join. She also wears a yarmulke daily, a head covering worn traditionally by Jewish men. She has made this adornment her own, often collecting new ones when she visits Temple Beth El in Portland.

Our staff transports Kathy to temple whenever she wants to go. One of our counselors, who was bar mitzvahed, even reads Hebrew prayers and psalms to Kathy at temple. She enjoys the practice, discussion, and the traditions of her faith, while being open to other's religions, and truly appreciates when staff and residents show curiosity toward what she holds precious.

The photo was taken by Michael Heiko during a visit to the Jewish Museum in Portland, Maine around Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.