Before the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, 82-year-old Robert Brajer and 30-year-old Ben Goldstein would regularly meet with each other, discussing everything under the sun – right from music to politics.
And how are these two men that have such a huge age gap friends?
Here is where the organization DOROT comes into picture…
What is DOROT?
They are both part of the non-profit organization DOROT, based out of New York, that addresses the challenges of an aging population. It understands that social isolation and loneliness is a public health crisis and that the senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to this. Initiated in 1976, DOROT was launched by graduates of Columbia University’s social work program to serve the needs of senior citizens that are homebound or homeless and required social connections and a sense of community. It is currently a leader in transforming the lives of the elderly by enhancing their lives through meaningful and transformative social connections.
DOROT, then, connected Ben to Robert and they got along like a house on fire!
“Immediately I was just very taken with him and just thought that he sounded great, such a funny and fun guy,” Ben told CNN. He also admitted that he and Robert consistently made an effort to see each other every few weeks before the pandemic hit.
However, unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 crisis, DOROT cancelled all in-person meetings and visits and asked the members to, instead, move to phone calls and video calls.
And while the two did start with some phone calls, they soon moved to video calls. On 4th June 2020, they had their first video call together on Zoom.
“It’s good to see you,” Ben said during the call. “I haven’t seen you in a minute.”
“I miss you,” Robert responded, his face shining with happiness. “I’d like to hug you, and I’d like to give you some salad. You still look like you haven’t had enough sleep.”
“Still bags under my eyes?” replied his younger friend.
More on Robert and Ben…
Robert is a Holocaust survivor who moved to New York in 1956. He lost his partner a few years back and has admitted to being a “wreck” since. And he believes that Ben helped him fill the void in his life – they also had quite a few common interests, one of which was music.
Both he and Ben have worked for the music industry. While Robert was a record salesman in the 60s and the 70s, Ben is the owner of a music management company that manages rock artists!
“Ben is a sweet kid,” Robert says. “It was a very good thing emotionally not to be alone and talk about life. It was very enjoyable. We got to be friends.”
And the appreciation is mutual!
“It’s really, really cool to just be so welcomed into someone’s house like that. He’s a very gracious host,” says Ben of Robert, “It’s something I look forward to.”
We are certain that the relationship between the two helps both of them grow and thrive! And it is wonderful that despite the tough times, the two are leveraging technology to keep things going!
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