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A month filled with Jewish Holidays Engages Handmaker Community

by Nanci Levy | Oct 18, 2016

Sukkot -10-16-16The Jewish month of Tishrei, which began on the 2nd of October this year, is completely filled with Jewish holidays. It begins with Rosh Hashanah, a celebration of the Jewish New Year, followed about one week later by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement or repentance. A few days after that we begin the celebration of Sukkot, a harvest festival commemorating the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in the desert, where we dine in a sukkah for 8 days. Sukkot ends one week later with Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, the celebration of the Torah, when the cycle of the Torah reading in the Synagogue ends and restarts. The number and variety of these holidays is enough to make your head spin. But it is also very engaging for the residents at Handmaker. For them, this month full of holidays is a month steeped in a deep connection to their Judaism, to the Jewish community, to one another, as well as a month of learning and remembering.

Residents feel so fortunate that every Jewish holiday is observed at Handmaker. They enjoy special delicious holiday meals, services for all holidays, and even a Sukkah for them to eat in! They feel at home with these familiar observances, and do not have to go far to pray, just down the hall to the Great Room. Along with our Jewish Residents, we also have many guests who join us to observe these holidays, as well as some non Jewish residents who attend. Elaine is one example. While she is not Jewish, she has lived at Handmaker for nearly a year, and has really enjoyed learning about Judaism, going to as many Jewish holiday events as she can. She asks great questions, and fully participates. When she learned that it is traditional to wear white to the High Holiday Services, she came dressed in white. Elaine is also one of our most active participants in our weekly Torah Study.

Many members of our staff are interested in learning about the holidays as well, all wanting to know the proper greeting for each holiday. Several came to hear the Shofar as it was blown during the High Holidays. Those who helped serve the Erev Sukkot holiday meal under the Sukkah wanted to understand the meaning of the Sukkah. It is wonderful that they are so curious and eager to learn.

At Handmaker, where we provide Jewish Services for the Aging, everyone has some role in the Jewish Holiday observances and celebrations, from building the Sukkah, helping residents get to the services and meals, to making or serving the delicious holiday meals. This participation of all to help make this a Jewish home leads to a greater understanding of our different backgrounds, and increases the connections to each other in this great community. Chag Sameach.