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True Communal Joy for Elders at Chanukkah
December 20, 2017
True Communal Joy for Elders at Chanukkah

Posted by Marjorie U. Sokoll

This past Sunday, we celebrated the 12th Annual Friendly Visitor Chanukkah Celebration sponsored by Claire and Norton Sherman, of blessed memory. Sadly, Claire and Norton are no longer with us physically, but they are certainly with us in spirit. Their support enabled us to create a community of vulnerable elders, including Holocaust survivors, who connect with each other, and with the next generation via the many volunteers who attend. Claire once described how much this gathering, along with the Friendly Visitor Passover Seder that they sponsored, meant to her and Norton. About her personal experience of aging she said, “At this age, invitations are few and far between. No one wants to feel like a third wheel. Even at friends’ houses, you’re sort of outside looking in the window. Here you’re an insider – you’re an integral part of it.” Read more about the Shermans' contributions.

Most meaningfully, you could feel Claire and Norton’s presence through the heartfelt words of their son, Steve Sherman, who attended the celebration. “My parents, may they rest in peace, were avid supporters of JF&CS and it brought them great joy to be able to sponsor this event year after year. Last year, I escorted my mom to this celebration. This year, I am privileged to carry on the tradition of sponsoring this celebration in their honor. On behalf of my parents, Claire and Norton Sherman, myself, and the entire Sherman family, I want to wish all of you and your loved ones a very Happy Chanukkah and all the best that this holiday season and the New Year has to bring.”

Among the many guests were members of the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Jewish Healing Advisory Council, and Dan Miller, husband of Betty Ann, of blessed memory. We were delighted that Steve Siagel of Siagel Productions entertained us and shared his talent by playing keyboard and singing some of our favorite Yiddish, Hebrew, and English songs from the Jewish songbook!

We also had many dedicated JF&CS staff members who helped drive elders to the event and helped with Russian translation, as well as volunteers from the Friendly Visitor Program and the greater community. These staff and volunteers helped to create an intergenerational experience and a true sense of communal joy.

Please thank the staff and the volunteers. It must have been a tremendous effort to plan every detail for such an elaborate and enjoyable Hanukkah party. It was wonderful to be among so many good and dedicated company and also meet other survivors.” 
-Anonymous participant

We want to thank the participants in CJP LEADS and incoming freshman in the Tufts University FOCUS program who decorated the gift mugs, students from Temple Sinai in Brookline who decorated the gift bags, and the Kinsella family of Wellesley and their extended family who made the “winter warmer” bags filled with goodies.

Last but not least, I want to thank the awesome Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Jewish Healing team, Barbara Sternfield and Sue Spielman. Sue Spielman, Manager of the Friendly Visitor Program, who planned and organized the entire event which has grown so much over the years, received a beautiful thank you note from an Advisory Council member that captures the essence of Sue’s amazing efforts!

Dear Sue,

Another magnificent Chanukkah Celebration: Carefully planned, beautifully produced, amazingly well staffed, and creating enough nachas (joy) to fill every heart. Mazel tov for fashioning such a warm, welcoming, and high spirited holiday event. Thanks to all your dedicated staff and volunteers. This was community building with deep spiritual roots. JF&CS is blessed in having the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Jewish Healing outreach to a congregation of grateful recipients. A mitzvah! May you continue to go from strength to strength.

Chag Sameach/Happy Chanukkah!
David Breakstone

The annual Friendly Visitor Chanukkah Celebration is made possible through the generosity of the George and Beatrice Sherman Family Charitable Trust.

Marjie SokollMarjorie U. Sokoll, MEd is the founder and director of the JF&CS Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Jewish Healing and director of Spirituality and Aging. Marjie also provides oversight for the JF&CS Alzheimer’s/Related Disorders Family Support Program, spiritual support for the JF&CS Charlotte & Richard Okonow Parkinson’s Family Support Program, and is a founding partner at the Kalsman Institute for Judaism and Health. Marjie earned degrees in sociology and social work from Boston University and Tel Aviv University respectively, a graduate degree in counseling from Northeastern University, and holds a certificate of thanatology from the National Center for Death Education.

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