There are countless ways to honor the memory of a passed loved one: plaques, scholarships, headstones, planting a tree — even tattoos or running a marathon. But there are few ways more honorable than through public service.
Jason Silverman only walked this earth for six short years. But some 35 years later – almost six times more than he lived – Jason’s memory lives on.
“Jay Day” was inspired by Jason, my husband’s brother, and his fight with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It was simply the best way that their father, Robert Silverman, DDS, could think of to honor his fallen son.
In the mid-1980s, the family was in dire need after Jason was diagnosed and had to undergo experimental treatment out of state that was not then covered by insurance. Noticing the struggles during this difficult time, their small community of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania was instrumental in helping to support the Silvermans with fundraisers and donations.
“Up to that point, I had taken care of me and my family, and this sort of changed the way you think about people. So when I came back, I wanted to do something to say thank you,” Dr. Silverman told the community. Since then, he has been giving back to the community for more than three decades through Jay Day, a day of free dental care for anyone in need in the community.
Around the time my father-in-law was retiring and selling his established practice in Annville, Pennsylvania, Jeremy, his youngest son and my husband, was graduating from dental school at Midwestern University in Glendale, ready to embark on his own career in dentistry. He, too, knew that Jay Day was an important family tradition that he wanted to carry on to honor his brother and continue his father’s legacy of giving back to the community.
He put it into his own words:
“Jay Day has been a yearly tradition in our family for as long as I can remember and I am excited to continue it in our new home in Chandler. As a new father myself, I want to set a good example for my son and show him what it means to ‘pay it forward’, just as my father did for me.”
I am a licensed clinical social worker, and together with my husband, we opened the doors to Peace of Mind Dental Studio in Chandler in September 2020 amid the pandemic. Despite the challenges of a new startup, we did not deviate from our commitment to continue the Jay Day tradition. The day has since expanded to also honor Jeremy’s sister, Beth, who passed away in 2014.
Part of the impetus is, of course, our Jewish tradition of tikkun olam. We are both in the healing professions — Jeremy is a dentist, and I’m a psychotherapist — and tikkun olam intersects completely with our professional values of helping to reduce suffering and pain, both physical and psychological. We understand the connection between physical and emotional pain, so it was important for us to carry on this family tradition for another generation and to do our part in helping to improve the lives of people in our community.
We scheduled the most recent Jay Day close to Thanksgiving and Chanukah, a time when people are struggling in many ways. Our family was honored to hold Jay Day at its new home in Chandler on Nov. 7, 2021. My father-in-law flew out from Pennsylvania to work side by side with his son and pass on the baton to Jeremy for another 35 years. Along with the help of some very generous volunteers, Peace of Mind Dental Studio was able to see about 50 patients in need and donated over $15,000 worth of dental services. JN
Elissa and Jeremy Silverman live in Ahwatukee and work with patients with a degree of dental anxiety, for whom they emphasize the connection between oral, mental and physical health.
To learn more about Peace of Mind Dental or for updates on annual Jay Day celebrations in the future, please visit pomdental.com/community.