Chanukiah finds its new home at Jewish Care

30 Dec 2019

Linda Conway and her nephew, Steven Gordon, were looking for a new Chanukiah this year to light in the entrance to Jewish Care’s Betty and Asher Loftus Centre on Chanukah. Linda’s sister, Dorothy Gordon, has two sons, Steven and Jonny and is a resident at Lady Sarah Cohen House, which is one of three care homes at the Centre, where families enjoy lighting candles with residents of the care homes on each of the floors of their home.

In her quest to find a Chanukiah for visitors to enjoy in the main reception, Linda and the family decided they would try to buy one to donate to the Centre. Unable to find quite what she was looking for, Linda had a chance meeting in Divrei Kodesh in Edgware, whilst asking an assistant behind the counter for her help in their quest.

Another customer, Gavin Ucko, told her that he knew of a suitable one which was available and immediately put her in touch with Mel Zeffert, his father-in-law from Liverpool Greenbank Drive Hebrew Congregation. The shul, which was founded in 1937, sadly held its final service in January 2008. The Chanukiah stood proudly at the side of the Aron Kodesh for almost 70 years and needed a new home.

Mel Zeffert, a former senior warden gave a donation to the shul for the Chanukiah and planned to donate it to a shul in London which had recently moved into a new modern building.  However, it was not required and had remained unused for nearly 12 years.

Linda Conway, adds, “The Chanukiah was bronze and needed restoring so my nephew, Steven, stepped in to have it restored and we were very pleased that we could light it with the Zeffert’s on the first night of Chanukah and for many more nights celebrating Chanukah in the future.

“I was looking for a Chanukiah for the home and the Zeffert family had a chanukiah looking for a home. After nearly twelve years the Chanukiah has finally found a new permanent home.

A plaque will be added to the Chanukiah and the inscription will be that it has been “This Chanukiah was restored by the Gordon family in 2019 in appreciation for the ongoing care shown to Dorothy their wife, sister, mother and grandma by all at Lady Sarah Cohen House.”

Linda says, “We hope it gives everyone much pleasure in years to come when they see the Chanukiah as they come into the home on Chanukah.

The Gordon and Conway family were delighted to discover the history of the Chanukiah which had originally been donated to the Liverpool Greenbank Drive Hebrew Congregation in memory of Israel and Fanny Burman by their children Freda, Eric, and Jeanette. It still bears the inscription from their family. 

On hearing the good news that the Chanukiah would come to reside in the home, Jeanette Goodman, a retired barrister from Liverpool and Bournemouth and now a resident at Rosetrees, the original donor of the Chanukiah, said, “I’m delighted that the Chanukiah has found a new home in the lovely surroundings of Jewish Care’s Betty and Asher Loftus Centre. The Menorah was specially designed to go lower so children can light it too and I’m very happy it’s here.”

Jeanette’s daughter, Judith adds, “Following the closure of the shul nearly 12 years ago, the whereabouts of the Menorah were unknown to us, so it was a wonderful surprise to us when we learned that it had been found, restored and gifted to The Betty and Asher Loftus Centre, where she is a resident.  We are thrilled that Mum and the Chanukiah have ended up at the same place and we think that it could not have found a better home.”

Linda, “It feels Beshet (meaning it was meant to be) to discover that the Chanukiah will now be with one of the original donors.”

Jewish Care’s spiritual and cultural advisor, Rabbi Junik, said, “Each year on Chanukah we remember the festival celebrations from our younger days which serve as a connection to one another across the generations. It’s amazing how the original Chanukiah that Jeanette first donated to Greenbank Road Synagogue in Liverpool many years ago, has journeyed to London and ended up back with her at the Jewish Care home where she now lives. The Chanukiah reconnects Jeanette to Chanukahs of her youth and it has now gone full circle.  

“We light Chanukiahs across the home with residents and this one will stand in the entrance illuminating their lives and connecting the residents, their families, our volunteers and staff to the festival. There’s no greater Chanukah gift that the Gordon and Conway family could give, to Dorothy, to Jeannette and to all the residents, than the Chanukiah which brings light for all across the homes.”