Posted by Linda Gelda

On Sunday, December 14, I planned to take my 87-year-old mother-in-law to the JF&CS Friendly Visitor Chanukkah Celebration. I took her two years ago, but she had no memory of this. Over the past few years her health, cognition, and memory have been steadily declining. She has also been increasingly depressed of late.

In fact, when I went to pick her up she told me, “Why bother going? I don’t want to go out, just let me go, I’m done, don’t bother with me.”

I insisted, and we went.

Lo and behold, as we walked into the festively decorated room for the 9th annual celebration organized by Sue Spielman, a Jewish Healing Connections (JHC) staff member, my mother-in-law noticed Barbara Sternfield, another JHC staff person, who used to lead Shabbat services at her assisted living facility, and she tentatively brightened up.

When the ceremonies began and the candles were lit by Marjie Sokoll and the young children in attendance, my mother-in-law started humming and then singing along with the blessings and Chanukkah songs. When the delicious homemade latkes came out, at first she said, “I’m not hungry,” but soon ate a few with gusto.

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