Keeping it in the family…11 Dec 2015
A Jewish Care residential home might not be the first place you’d think of to celebrate a wedding, Bar Mitzvah or special birthday. But you might be surprised by how many Simchas take place across the organisation’s services, residential homes and centres.
For some of the people who live in Jewish Care’s homes, the staff, volunteers and fellow residents are the closest thing they have to a family – so it’s only natural for everyone to celebrate together.
And even if residents do have family, many are simply too frail to leave the home for long periods. So bringing the Simcha to them is often the most sensible option available.
Those who hold Simchas in resources also get to experience the added benefit of being able to celebrate with their wider Jewish Care family. Residents, staff and volunteers love being part of the celebration – we love a party at Jewish Care!
Earlier this year, 83-year-old Harry Skolnick celebrated his second Bar Mitzvah at Clore Manor in Hendon. All Harry’s family came to join him – and his relatives in Israel sent messages of congratulation– as he was given an Aliyah and enjoyed a Kiddush after the shul service. Harry’s nephew Ian says: “Our uncle can’t get out and about like he used to. So it was wonderful to see him surrounded by so many young people. It was perfect.”
And it’s not just our residents’ own celebrations that we welcome. We’re only too happy to help any of their relatives mark a special occasion. Like Jamie Wilford, who became the first boy to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah during a Shacharit Service at our Princess Alexandra Home in Stanmore.
Jamie’s grandma, Mavis Roth is a resident at the home, and his grandpa Joseph has been a volunteer there for many years. Unfortunately, Mavis can’t leave the home very often, so it made perfect sense to have the Simcha there. Jamie’s family invited all the other residents, staff and volunteers at the home to enjoy the service along with their family and friends.
Jamie’s mother Aviva explains: “We couldn’t have a Bar Mitzvah without Jamie’s grandmother participating in some way. mummy couldn’t get to the Shabbat Morning Service we felt it would be really meaningful for Jamie to share this special Simcha with his grandma and all the residents, volunteers and staff at the home who know him well now.”
Many of our residents’ families decide to celebrate the important events in their lives with Jewish Care. When Sara Armstrong chose Florida as the venue for her wedding to fiancé Jason Trost in Florida earlier in the year she realised that her 95-year-old Nanna, Fay Armstrong, wouldn’t be able to make the journey: she’s simply too frail.
Sara also knew Fay wouldn’t be able to come to the formal blessing she’d arranged at Leez Priory in Essex. But it was very important for Sara that her Nanna was able to see her wedding blessed in person. Faye lives at Vi and John Rubens House in Redbridge, so Sara arranged a special blessing at the home with Rabbi Richard Jacobi.
Sara told us: “I really wanted Nanna to be part of my wedding celebrations, and this was the perfect way to do it. It was a beautiful event, with so many generations of our family, and all of nanna’s new ‘family’ at Vi and John Rubens too.”
And it’s not just weddings and Bar Mitzvahs that people are celebrating with Jewish Care. When Debbie Collins wanted to mark several big family occasions all at the same time, she decided to celebrate at Lady Sarah Cohen House in Friern Barnet. “My grandma Maisie had been a resident there, my mother-in-law runs the gift shop, and my dad Malcolm Feiger has been a Jewish Care volunteer for a long time. So it was the perfect place to mark his 80th birthday and my daughter Millie’s ninth birthday – which both happened to fall on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. It was important we were together as a family and so we all attended the service in the new Wohl Synagogue. The service was followed by a beautiful Kiddush. The residents love the children, the staff and volunteers all really understand our culture. But most importantly of all, we all felt really welcome – like we were part of the community ourselves.”
If you’d like to mark your Simcha in a Jewish Care resource, please talk to the resource manager or call 020 8922 2222.