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One full cycle

by Nanci Levy | Oct 31, 2016

Rosh Hashanah 5777 - DinnerWith the celebration of Simchat Torah last week, we (the Jewish People) just concluded the annual cycle of Torah readings, and just began the cycle anew from the beginning with B’reisheet, “in the beginning”.  

Just about one year ago, I began working at Handmaker. While I did not realize it at the time, it seems quite fitting that I started here just as we began reading B’reisheet last year, at the beginning at the Torah, and just completed my first full year at Handmaker, appropriately, at the conclusion of the Torah. It is purely a coincidence, but still.

Twelve months ago I was literally trying to find my way around Handmaker. Trying to remember residents’ and co-workers’ names, which neighborhoods housed which residents, what residents were interested in, and above all, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do at Handmaker to make a difference to Handmaker residents. How was I going to get them more connected to the Tucson Jewish Community? It was exciting, but I have to admit, it was also a bit overwhelming.

And here I am now, at the end of my first full year, my first full cycle. I have observed every Jewish Holiday with the Handmaker community at least once. I have been to more birthday celebrations for 80-100 year olds than ever in my entire life. I have been saddened by the loss of some dear residents that I had gotten to know over the last year, and have been thrilled to welcome many new faces as well. I know most of the Assisted and Independent Living Residents by name, and while I have certainly not gotten it all figured out, I have come a long ways since those first days.

We have a nice rhythm of Jewish programming going on. Torah study on Mondays and Fridays; Cooking once a month; Yiddish once a month; Shabbat services and dinner every Friday night, with guests on the last Friday of the month; Saturday morning Shabbat services in the Great Room. Our inter-generational program, Tracing Roots and Building Trees, is in its second year of meeting one Sunday a month. Residents have the opportunity to go on one “Jewish” outing about once a month. We are fortunate to have Rabbis and others in the community come to Handmaker to lecture fairly regularly, and Religious School and THA Students visit frequently. We also have more and more students doing their Mitzvah projects here at Handmaker. Is this all making a difference? Is this what I am supposed to be doing? Is the community getting more connected to Handmaker? Only time will tell.

Each annual cycle of reading the Torah is the same, and yet different. The words that we read may be the same, but what we learn from the words, or how we interpret the words may change as we change each time we read it. This was my first cycle at Handmaker. It was a wonderful year for me, and I think that I did some good. I have certainly learned a lot.  And like the annually recurring Torah readings, hopefully this cycle will keep going on, repeating, but getting more clearly understood and appreciated year after year. Wishing you and your families a wonderful, happy and healthy new year!