Posted by Marjie Sokoll
This was the question posed to a group of frail elders who attended our Sixth Annual Friendly Visitor Hanukkah Celebration. As the elders sat around their tables sharing latkes (potato pancakes), they also shared stories of miracles of survival during a serious illness, miracles of survival during the Holocaust, and the simple miracle of gathering as a community, in the dark of winter, to celebrate together the Festival of Lights - Hanukkah!
Marjie Sokoll, the Director of JF&CS Jewish Healing Connections, also shared the present day miracle of the State of Israel through the story of Izzy the Bear. The cute bear had an honored place as the table centerpieces; it is a gift of Magen David Adom (MDA) in Israel – the Red Star of David - Israel's only first aid and disaster relief organization. The bears were donated to JF&CS Family Table through the generosity of Congregation Mishkan Tefila of Chestnut Hill, which held a fundraiser in support of MDA several years ago. The extra bears were given to the Friendly Visitor Program.
As the celebration concluded with communal singing, Marjie emphasized that the retelling of the story of Hanukkah each year reminds us of the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days to inspire us to never give up hope – rather to seek out those miracles that continue to happen to us each and every day.
The elders expressed their gratitude for the miracle of celebrating Hanukkah together. One participant said, "It is so wonderful to gather together and celebrate Hanukkah with my people. I feel so at home." Many of the elders took one of the cuddly bears home as a memory of the simple miracle of feeling connected to a caring community during the holidays or through being the recipient of healthy food during challenging times.
This Hanukkah celebration is made possible through the continued generosity of the George and Beatrice Sherman Family Charitable Trust.
Marjorie U. Sokoll, MEd, Director of Jewish Life and Healing, is the founder and director of JF&CS Jewish Healing Connections, which helps ensure that people feel a sense of connection when facing the challenges of illness, loss, or isolation by offering spiritual and communal supports to provide hope, comfort, and wholeness guided by Jewish tradition. "It is not good for people to be alone." (Genesis 2:18). Marjie also provides spiritual support for the JF&CS Parkinson's Family Support Program, is a founding partner at the Kalsman Institute for Judaism and Health, and holds a certificate of thanatology from the National Center for Death Education.