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The Making of a Seder Maven

Posted: April 1, 2013

My previous  JCHE seder experiences had included several in Brighton – and last year at Golda.  I am pleased to qualify as a JCHE Seder Maven and I recommend the experience. This year the luncheon which David catered at Coleman was an elegant and more contemporary presentation of traditional dishes . Delicious and beautiful  to see  as was the newly refurbished dining room.   Residents had been working during the morning to set and decorate the tables with daffodil bouquets and place a seder plate on each.   

Coleman residents conducted the seder as well.  Sylvia Jaffe was a competent and comfortable leader who added her own touches to the JCHE Tri-Lingual Haggadah.  I particularly enjoyed her explanation of the oranges which had been placed on each seder plate.  In a congregation in Florida, a woman worshipper was forbidden to take a place at the Torah.  “When that happen you’ll see oranges on seder plates,” protested the rabbi.

In the spirit of our seder, the service was all inclusive: male and female residents said prayers, spoke of their journeys as refusniks from the Soviet Union ending as citizens of JCHE, and we were all moved by Marvin Wilkenfeld’s reading of a recent New York Times account of Heschel Schacter, the first rabbi who entered Buchenwald with General Patton and stayed to care for those survivors he found, including a little boy who, when asked his age, said “I must be older than you….you laugh and cry, I don’t do either.”

At my table we ate with gusto, exchanged stories of the paths that brought us together to Coleman House and repeatedly expressed pleasure at the full and varied lives residents can make there.

Written by Helen Kass, JCHE Board of Directors 

(Photo: left to right: Paula Weitz and Helen Kass)

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