Mitzvah Heroine: Allison Aaron, 18, a Cheltenham native and freshman studying music and psychology at Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, Pa.
What She Does for Love: From the age of 12 to just before she started college this semester, Allison devoted Friday nights to helping lead Shabbat services at Sunrise of Abington, a senior living residence in Montgomery County. She intends to resume volunteering at Sunrise during school breaks.
Not a One Time Thing: It started out as a project for her Bat Mitzvah at Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, but turned into so much more. She had a revelation, she says, of the power of music and the mind “when I was singing a song to a resident — few of the residents there have dementia, but this one did — and he started singing along.” It was a revelation that led her to the field she wants to study at Bucknell: music therapy.
How She Did It: With assistance from Debbie Miner, the Hebrew school director at A.J., and her parents, Bonnie and Doug, Allison kept her six-year Friday night schedule on course. Sunrise management eventually hired her to waitress there and then promoted her to activities and the front desk, but she always kept the Friday night services separate as a volunteer mitzvah.
Good for Her: She got as much as she gave, it turns out: “At first I think the residents benefitted more. But as I continued,” says Allison, now involved with Bucknell’s student opera company, “I realized I was the lucky one.”