Jewish charities and organisations are gearing up for Pesach to benefit communities across the country.
Mock seders, singing and arts ‘n’ crafts have been just some of a plethora of initiatives taking place over recent days.
And the coming days will see community seders throughout London, Bournemouth, Brighton, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, Birmingham, Sheffield and Glasgow to name just a few cities.
Jewish Care’s catering team have been preparing for 30 communal seders across care homes and community centres hosted by volunteers for residents and their families.
The catering team will kosher 30 kitchens, catering 48,000 Pesach meals for clients across residential homes and centres, as well as kosher for Pesach ‘meals on wheels’ and kosher reformed food for people with dysphasia for care homes and people in the community.
Across London and the South East, older members will enjoy traditional seders at Redbridge Jewish Community Centre and Michael Sobell Jewish Community Centre in Golders Green.
During past days passing down Pesach traditions has been taking place.
Etz Chaim School and Independent Jewish Day School pupils joined Jewish Care’s Clore Manor residents to sing songs at a mock seder, Nagila pre-school nursery children joined Jewish Care’s Edgware and Harrow Community Centre members for matza making, Jewish Care’s Bnei Mitvah Programme participants together with Betty and Asher Loftus Centre residents enjoyed arts ‘n’ crafts sessions with a Pesach theme, whilst Jewish Care’s Sidney Corob House residents for people with mental health needs enjoyed Pesach shopping.
For Malcolm Feiger, volunteering at Lady Sarah Cohen House has been the norm for two decades years ago since his mother was a resident at the home.
Malcolm leads both seder nights and his family has always been involved.
“There are five Seder’s going on at the same time,” he says. “It’s about celebrating the key moments of the seder, singing the songs and inviting residents and families to join in.”
And at Sandringham home in Stanmore, Juliet and Cedric Solomon will lead the seder for Cedric’s father, Benjamin and 44 people at the home.
With 80% of Jewish Care’s residents living with dementia, familiar tunes, tastes, sight and smell of the traditional Sseder meal help trigger memories of Pesach’s gone by.
“Helping people to connect on a spiritual level can sometimes help to connect them more strongly to their own personal identity,” commented Rabbi Junik, Jewish Care’s Spiritual and pastoral leader. “Connecting with one’s faith either religiously or culturally can be a very comforting experience for many people living with dementia and their families.
“We provide care to Jewish people from across the community who have had a wide spectrum of engagement with their Judaism. People living with dementia often go back to their strongest memories in their formative years so even if people haven’t engaged with Judaism later on in their lives, taking part in traditional Jewish experiences provides the opportunity to bring a person’s cultural identity to the forefront.”
Jewish Care CEO, Daniel Carmel Brown paid tribute to all the Pesach volunteers.
Over at Norwood, more than 70 people attended a mock seder at the Kennedy Leigh Family Centre in Hendon.
Rabbi Stanley Coten oversaw the service assisted by Young Norwood manager Anthony Shaw
“Norwood runs a series of demo sederim to enable the people we support to experience
Pesach’s customs and practices and to inspire an appreciation and enthusiasm for the
Festival,” commented Rabbi Coten.
Norwood also recently launched its annual Pesach appeal, this year themed around the popular Seder song Dayenu.
Chai Cancer Care has launched its ‘Navigating cancer…together’ Pesach appeal, which features a personal account from Gideon Josephs, a personal trainer, who talks about how Chai helped his family to cope with the impact of his bowel cancer diagnosis following a trip to Israel for a simcha.
British Emunah CEO Lynda Dullop is leading British Emunah’s Pesach appeal.
She visited Emunah welfare projects for the first time on an Israel Mission earlier this year.
“I have been greatly affected by everything that I have seen,” Newcastle-born Lynda said.
“This Pesach, please be extra generous, because a donation to Emunah will make the world of difference to children and teenagers who live in our residential children’s homes, or who use our centres and services.”
And Jewish Child’s Day is working with partners to eradicate childhood hunger in Israel and the UK.
This Pesach support will make a Jewish child’s day.
At Chabad Lubavitch, they have again come to the fore in running seders at over 40 locations this year.
Additional activities include Shmura Matzah being given out to thousands of Jewish families across the country, Chabad houses have set up mini Pesach shops in the middle of nowhere to service even the smallest of community needs and model matzah bakeries are happening all over the country giving children a hands on Pesach experience.
Rabbi’s are also making provisions for poor families over the festival.
By Leah Waxler