A Match Made in Heaven

February 15, 2022

A Match Made in Heaven

By JF&CS Marketing

What do One Good Deed, toothpick art, ketubahs, and a famous bridge in Russia have in common? Miriam Karp (pictured above, right) and her One Good Deed Match, Sophia (pictured above, left)!

When volunteer Miriam heard of One Good Deed (OGD), our friendly visitor program of Aviv Older Adult Services, from the JF&CS Newsletter, she knew immediately it was something she wanted to do. She was matched with Sophia in 2020 and a unique friendship began to blossom. Sophia, like other older adults during the pandemic, began to feel increasingly lonely and isolated during COVID, and really needed a friend. After OGD matched Miriam and Sophia, they became good friends and discovered they share a world of incredible coincidences and connections.

Shared connections and coincidences

Their friendship revealed an amazing coincidence that connected the two women before they had even met. Sophia discovered that Miriam was the artist who created the ketubah (the decorated Jewish marriage contract pictured above) for her son’s wedding.

Additionally, she saw a beautiful piece of toothpick artwork in the JF&CS Holocaust Services newsletter years ago from an artist/engineer who designed structures out of toothpicks. The structure was a model of The Palace Bridge from her home country of Russia, where she lived in Leningrad. She knew her grandchildren, who were young at the time, would be interested in the unique art, and arranged to learn more about the artist. The artist, Yakov Ayzengart, is another Survivor who lives in Atlanta and is connected to JF&CS. He is an active member in Cafe Europa at JF&CS and gifted the agency a menorah made from toothpicks that is on display in the lobby of the JF&CS Dunwoody office.

This bridge had made another appearance: on her son's ketubah. When Sophia brought the article about Yakov to her son, and he saw The Palace Bridge, the recognition glimmered in his eyes. He excitedly showed a picture of the toothpick bridge to his children, and told them they were going to be playing a game, saying: "We have this photo somewhere else in the house. I'll give you five minutes to find it." His children returned later and told them they had discovered it on his ketubah, which Sophia then learned was designed by Miriam. Her son chose the ketubah design because the bridge is close to his heart, reminding him of his life in Leningrad for 14 years.

“I feel like our friendship is a match made in Heaven,” Sophia says speaking about her unique connections to Miriam and JF&CS. “We have become such good friends, and everything just ‘clicked’ for us. I am so pleased to have Miriam in my life.”

Even during the pandemic, when in-person visits were put on hold, Miriam and Sophia created a beautiful friendship together filled with good conversation and laughter. After two years of phone friendship, Sophia and Miriam plan to meet in person once the Omicron COVID-19 variant settles down. Miriam speaks to Sophia every Monday, sometimes for as long as an hour and a half. They talk all about their lives, their families, and even their problems. Miriam says that Sophia has a great sense of humor and is someone she can talk to about anything.

“Sophia is a sensible woman, and I love that,” Miriam says. “She doesn’t beat around the bush and is very straightforward. I have so much respect for her, and I love the way that she views the world.”

Miriam's passion for the Jewish older adult community

Miriam has worked very closely with Holocaust Survivors while volunteering. About 20 years ago, Miriam interviewed more than 60 Survivors and children of Survivors for the USC Shoah Foundation. She reveals that some of the Survivors she spoke to were telling their story for the very first time. She says of the experience: “Some people said to themselves, ‘This is my chance. I need to get my story out there before I die.’ It was an amazing group of people I spoke to, and I heard so many incredible stories. Sophia is also a Survivor, but we had never spoken about it before.”

Miriam has been dedicated to serving the Jewish older adult community for quite some time. She's read stories to patients with dementia at the William Breman Jewish Home (like her mother did before her), various volunteer work with the Jewish community in Cuba, and she continues to create Ketubahs and other Jewish art that have added beauty and happiness to the community. She says she holds her volunteer work with JF&CS close to her heart and says One Good Deed is a truly meaningful program.

“It’s a wonderful way to connect with other people, especially people with different life experiences than you," she explains. "It’s so important to stay connected, especially now.”

If you are interested in becoming a One Good Deed volunteer, or would like to be a recipient of a friendly-visitor match, click the button below.