Jewish Care is ready for Pesach

17 Apr 2019

Jewish Care’s catering team will be preparing 400 Seder plates for 30 communal Seder nights across care homes and community centres, hosted by volunteers for residents and their families on Pesach this year. The catering team will kosher 30 kitchens, catering 48,000 Pesach meals for clients across Jewish Care residential homes and centres, as well as Kosher for Pesach meals on wheels and kosher, reformed food for people with dysphasia for care homes and people in the community. Across London and the South East, older members of the community will enjoy attending interactive communal Seder nights at Jewish Care’s Redbridge Jewish Community Centre and the Michael Sobell Jewish Community Centre in Golders Green.

Though not everyone gets involved in the cleaning, the organisation involves everyone as much as possible in preparing for the festival. “This week,” says Isabel Fontes, Activities Organiser at Jewish Care’s Sidney Corob House mental health home in West Hampstead, “our Sunday walk will be going to Golders Green to do our Pesach shopping. We’re looking forward to having our Seders, which will kindly be led by young volunteers from Jewish Care’s Six Sunday’s Programme. It’s important that everyone who would like to, feels that they are part of taking part in their home’s preparations and celebrations for the festival.”

Sharing the Pesach meals across the generations and passing down the traditions, make festivals special. This year, children and volunteers from the ages of three upwards, across the community have been getting together with older members of Jewish Care’s community centres and residents of care homes to celebrate Pesach.  Nursery children from Nagila pre-school nursery who share a building with Jewish Care's Edgware and Harrow Day Centre, joined members from for a fun matza making activity. Jacey Harris, Centre Manager, said, "They had a wonderful time and the members really love it when the children join us.”

Meanwhile, twelve participants from Jewish Care’s fourth Bnei Mitzvah Programme got creative with residents at the Betty and Asher Loftus Centre to make Pesach themed masks for the Seder. Pupils from Etz Chaim School, Independent Jewish Day School and Wolfson Hillel joined residents at Jewish Care’s Clore Manor home and members at Connect@ Southgate centre, to sing Pesach songs and take part in mock Seders together.

Following their mock Seder, Etz Chaim School’s Assistant Head Teacher, Sarah Osborne, said, “It was a fabulous afternoon at Clore Manor – the children had the opportunity to share the highlights of the Seder, including the singing of the ‘Ma Nishtana’ and ‘Dayenu. It was heart-warming to hear the room filled with singing from the children and the residents.”

Richard Shone, Head of Community Engagement & Volunteering, commented, “Our mock Seders create an opportunity for members and residents to share their traditions and reminisce about Seders gone by. For some of our community centre members this is their only Seder on Pesach. The communal Seders in our community centres and care homes are kindly led by volunteers on yom tov to help older clients to celebrate Pesach together with the community. We can’t run the Seders without our volunteers.”

Malcolm Feiger, began volunteering for Jewish Care’s shul group at Lady Sarah Cohen House 20 years ago, since his mother was a resident at the home. He enjoys leading both nights of Pesach and his family has always been involved in volunteering. “There are five Seder’s going on at the Centre at the same time here,” Malcolm says, “I’m very much part of the team and we all enjoy volunteering for Shabbat and at the Seders. I’m not learned in ritual but it’s about celebrating the key moments of the Seder, singing the songs and inviting the residents and their families to join in as much as possible, we read in English and Hebrew and enjoying the meal together.”


At Jewish Care’s Sandringham home in Stanmore, Juliet and Cedric Solomon, together with their teenage children, will, for the first time, be leading the Seder service for Cedric’s father, Benjamin and the 44 other people he lives with at the home.

Juliet says, “We are very much looking forward to our Seder with the residents. I love that engagement and seeing their faces light up with delight when we arrive. We get so much from volunteering. Sometimes the greatest gifts in life are free and can be so rewarding.”

With 80% of Jewish Care’s residents living with dementia, the familiar tunes, tastes, sight and smell of the traditional Seder meal together with the words and melodies of the songs, will help to trigger memories so they can join in and connect with everyone there and with Pesach’s gone by.

Jewish Care’s Chief Executive, Daniel Carmel Brown paid tribute to the Pesach volunteers, saying; “It is thanks to wonderful individuals and families from across our community, that people living in care homes and visiting our community centres can remain connected to their Jewish life, the traditions and celebrations”.