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Grossingers, in Tucson?

by User Not Found | Jul 18, 2019

Busy Calendars“Handmaker reminds me of when I used to go up to the Poconos with my family and stayed at a Jewish resort when I was younger! There was always something to do, something going on, and plenty of good food.” That was the response that I got from Chic last week when I asked how his stay at Handmaker was going.

Chic does normally live at Handmaker, but he likes attending our Shabbat services and Torah Study. After Shabbat Services one morning a few weeks ago, he told me that his air conditioner was not working, and that it would not be fixed for a few days. I suggested that he check with our Admissions Department to see if we had an apartment available at Handmaker that he could stay in for a few days while he waited his A/C to be fixed. He did, and we did, and he loved every minute of his stay here.

Beginning in the 1920’s, resorts in Catskill mountains of upstate NY and the Poconos of Pennsylvania that were catering to Jewish clientele who were not welcome at other resorts became very popular, with their peak in the 1950’s and 60’s. Two of the best known were the Concord and Grossinger's, and the many families who flocked there in the summer time created wonderful memories to last a lifetime. It’s interesting to me that Chic made a comparison of Handmaker to his experience at a Jewish resort, because I sometimes think that Handmaker is like year round Jewish Summer Camp for seniors. And when I hear about what life was like at the Jewish resorts in the Catskills and the Poconos, they sound very much like Summer Camp for families, only with much better food! Now granted, we do not have basketball leagues, lakefront activities, dance contests or Maccabiah Games, but there are some similarities.

When residents get up each morning, they get dressed and head over to the Dining Room for breakfast. There is always a breakfast special, but they can get almost anything they want for breakfast, and as much as they want, as long as its kosher. There are no loudspeaker announcements in the Dining Room about the day's activities, but at the breakfast table and posted all around there are the “daily sheets” with a list of activities for the day. There are generally two morning activities. At 9 or 10am there is shopping, current events, book club, art class, Yiddish class or some or other activity, followed by a choice of a variety of exercise classes at 11am, depending on the day. After exercise class, it’s off to the Dining Room again for lunch where they can choose between a lunch special, or another dairy choice off of the menu. And there is always ice cream available.

Afternoon activities range from Torah Study, Bingo, Around the World Cultural classes, live music, baking, Tai Chi, a musical performance, or of course there is also the option of taking an afternoon nap. Dinner comes along with a choice of dinner special or choice from the meat menu. And after dinner, almost every night there is an evening activity of live music, movie, game or trivia night, just to name a few. That wide array of activities does make Handmaker sound a bit like a Poconos resort!

On Shabbat everything is a little different. I am not sure if that was always the case at Grossinger's or the Concord, but it is at Handmaker. Every Friday evening beginning at 4:30pm there is a Shabbat Service followed by a special Shabbat meal, complete with Challah and Manischewitz. And on every Saturday morning, there is Shabbat morning service, with Torah and Haftorah reading, followed by a beautiful Kiddush spread complete with pickled herring, egg and a variety of other salads, Challah, fruit and a delicious selection of desserts.

So yes, the comparison that Chic made between his stay Handmaker and his stay at a Poconos Resort is understandable. There are some similarities, and certainly many differences as well, but if we can make our residents feel like they are staying at a resort like Grossinger's, where they may have stayed in the past and have fond memories of as a child, then we have accomplished a lot here at Handmaker.