Posted by Deena Blau
I am fortunate to be affiliated with two wonderful organizations that give meaning to my life. One is Temple Sinai of Brookline where my husband and I have been members for more than 37 years. The other is the JF&CS Jewish Healing Connections Advisory Council led by Marjorie Sokoll.
At Passover, these two organizations joined forces to provide Jewish older adults with beautifully decorated centerpieces at each holiday table for the annual Friendly Visitor Passover Seder. Temple Sinai’s Mitzvah Day offers numerous opportunities for the congregation to come together to serve others and to bring joy to those who face life’s challenges. When Temple Sinai School Director, Heidi Smith Hyde, was searching for potential projects, she went to the JF&CS website to explore available opportunities. According to Heidi, Temple Sinai already had a relationship with them as congregants regularly volunteer at Family Table. Heidi saw a request for Passover centerpieces and contacted Sue Spielman, Friendly Visitor Program Manager, who was organizing the event.
Heidi and Sue came up with the idea of a decorative Seder plate for each table of guests. As Heidi describes, “All that was needed was felt, scissors, pie plates, craft glue, and a little bit of love.” I was among the volunteers along with my husband and seven-year-old twin grandsons to work on this project. We had a marvelous time assembling the Seder plates that were used.
I had the joyful experience of participating in the Passover Seder with more than 140 older adults and volunteers. David, one of the fourth grade students in the Temple Sinai religious school, recited the four questions beautifully at the event. His mother, Alyssa, was an intern at JF&CS and delivered the finished plates. According to Sue, many of the adults who attend are matched with volunteer Friendly Visitors. Others, including Holocaust survivors or victims of Nazi persecution, are served by other JF&CS programs. Since many are Russian speaking, this year the Haggadah was translated into Russian as well as English and Hebrew.
This lovely intergenerational project served to remind these older adults that they are not forgotten by the Jewish community and have the opportunity to feel connected to the greater Jewish population. For many, if this event did not happen, there would not be a Passover Seder to celebrate.
I was fortunate to participate both in the making of the centerpieces and to enjoy them with the other participants at the Seder. I will remember the smiles on the faces of the guests and the appreciation they expressed when they sat down at the beautifully set and decorated tables. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Passover celebration! Thank you to Marjie, Sue, Heidi, and the many volunteers that made this day happen. We know “It is not good to be alone,” especially at the holidays.
The 11th annual Friendly Visitor Passover Seder is made possible through the generosity of the George and Beatrice Sherman Family Charitable Trust.
Deena has been a dedicated member of the Jewish Healing Connections Advisory Council since its inception in 2002. She also created the Caring Community at her synagogue, Temple Sinai in Brookline, and has been co-leading a healing service in conjunction with Am Tikva and Temple Sinai since 2000. Deena founded the Soviet Jewry Committee at Temple Sinai in 1985 and worked on freeing and resettling Soviet Jews through 1992.
Originally published on the JF&CS blog.