Dementia-Friendly Service Planned for Yom Kippur

Abbreviated program will make it easier for families to celebrate the holiday together

The Dorothy and Peter Brown Jewish Community Adult Day Program (Brown Program) is hosting a dementia-friendly Kol Nidre/Yom Kippur service 11 a.m., Sunday, September 24 at Congregation Shaarey Zedek, 27375 Bell Rd, Southfield, MI 48034. There is no fee to attend.

“Often, families that are touched by dementia can become isolated from friends, co-workers and faith communities,” explains Brown Program director Debra Yamstein. “Our goal in creating this unique program is to provide families with an opportunity to remain connected to a faith community. Since many find solace through High Holiday services, we designed a special program to make it easier for individuals to observe Yom Kippur.”

The dementia-friendly service will be a small, intimate gathering of families touched by dementia where individuals will feel welcomed and not overwhelmed by large crowds or a long program. The abbreviated service will touch on the most important prayers within a shortened, 45-minute timeframe. Services will be led by Rabbi Aaron Starr and Hazzan David Propis of Congregation Shaarey Zedek. Future services will rotate throughout congregations in the community.

The service also aims to help individuals with dementia tap into their memory as music and liturgy are some of the last things to slip away. “The memories of prayer, music and worship are settled deep in the brain and can serve as a trigger to bring someone into the present,” explains Yamstein. “Although people with dementia may not remember what they ate for breakfast, they can still remember the deep-rooted experiences of their youth, including the celebration of holidays. Therefore, the opportunity to pray and connect with G-d on Yom Kippur remains important.”

To register or for more information about the Yom Kippur service, call (248) 661-6390. Individuals are encouraged to pre-register with the understanding that last-minute challenges may prevent them from attending.

About The Brown Program

The Dorothy and Peter Brown Jewish Community Adult Day Program is a joint program of JVS and Jewish Senior Life. The program provides a safe and nurturing environment where individuals with dementia are respected and valued. Music, art, yoga, gardening and other stimulating activities help participants socialize, thrive and live healthier lives. Caregivers also benefit from respite, support services and referrals to community resources to help them care for their family members and for themselves.

The Brown Program has two locations, one at JVS in Southfield and another at Jewish Senior Life in West Bloomfield. For more information, call (248) 233-4000 or visit