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Senior living residences offer bevy of High Holy Days services for residents

Posted September 14, 2023 in Articles


When it comes to celebrating the High Holy Days, senior living residences provide services as an alternative or option for those who cannot celebrate with family.

Rabbi Akiva Feinstein, director of spiritual living at Menorah Park in Beachwood; Jenny Calkins, life enrichment director at Rose Senior Living Beachwood; and resident Ellie Breitbart and Emily Greywacz, resident services director at Vitalia Active Adult Community at Solon, talked with the Cleveland Jewish News about how their facilities celebrate the High Holy Days and the holiday season.

Menorah Park

There are three things for Menorah Park that are important for the High Holy Days – services, meals, and activities and programming, Feinstein said.

Menorah Park has returned to full programing for the holidays, so there will be services throughout the campus, he said.

“We have our central services at Menorah (Park) which everybody can come to, community and residents of all of our building,” Feinstein said. “And then we have smaller services, specifically for Wiggins, specifically for R.H. Myers, to serve the needs of those people.”

Cantor Laurel Barr and Cantor Gary Paller will be doing nighttime services in Stone Gardens Assisted Living Residence, R.H. Myers Apartments and Wiggins Place, he said.

“We really give people a lot of choices,” Feinstein said. “Choices for more liberal, a little bit shorter service (that) focuses on just the familiar song. Or, a more traditional service which includes all the parts.”

Along with the services, Feinstein said for some, it is very important to have the “traditional Jewish holiday meal.” In all the Menorah Park buildings, there will be offerings for festive meals including chicken soup, brisket and chopped liver.

“The residents are inviting their families to come and dine with them as well for some of those festive meals,” he said.

With the services and meals, the community will have holiday-related projects. There will be a shofar workshop and a beekeeper who will talk about honey and that connection to the Jewish holidays, Feinstein said.

“We have a big general traditional service in Menorah (Park), but the other buildings get more of a custom treatment,” he said.

Senior living residences offer bevy of High Holy Days services for residents

Rose Senior Living Beachwood

Rose Senior Living Beachwood has an oneg every Friday with Chuck Fink for the residents in the facility who are Jewish, Calkins said.

“We are going to make it more special because it does fall on a Friday, with apples and honey and a special wine,” she said of Rosh Hashanah.

There will also be a special round challah bread, she said.

The facility also held a celebration for the High Holy Days the Friday before Rosh Hashanah because a lot of the residents do things with their families on the actual holiday, she said.

“We have a nice Jewish population, so we just try to go and make things special for them,” Calkins said.

There are about 20 Jewish residents that attend the services between the independent living, assisted living and memory care units, Calkins said. Even residents who are not Jewish come to the programs or attend events to learn, she said.

Vitalia Active Adult Community at Solon

At Vitalia Active Adult Community at Solon, Cantor Barr and her husband, Chad Barr, come to the community for regular Shabbat services twice a month, Greywacz said.

For the holidays, they will do a special service at 7 p.m. Sept. 15, as well as a service for Yom Kippur.

“All of their programs they keep to the tradition,” Greywacz said. “They incorporate music as well, so they make it very engaging for the residents.”

Following the program, there will be a round challah, honey, apples and honey cake, she said.

Breitbart, a resident at Vitalia Active Adult Community at Solon for a little over two years, has not yet selected a spiritual home since moving from Arizona, but she has a pass to attend services at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, she said. Her sister belongs to the temple.

“I love Cantor Laurel Barr,” Breitbart said. “She gives us a lot of education, even when she’s here on Friday night. She gives us the Torah portion for that time and explains it, and that’s very interesting to me.”

Residents can celebrate in their home, or they can celebrate with family members and outside the community, Greywacz said.

“Another thing that’s unique about their programs that they have is not only is it a chance for the Jewish residents to worship where they live, but they are so open and a lot of our non-Jewish residents have actually started to attend the programs,” Greywacz said.

The community is predominately Jewish with about 40 residents, she added.

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