Residents of one section of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare got some welcome news just in time for Hanukkah this year. Due to relaxed COVID-19 protocols, those who live at the Jeffrey & Susan Brudnick Center for Living in Peabody got to celebrate the Festival of Lights at a group event instead of on separate floors.
“Now we can have our residents together [for a Hanukkah event],” said Ellen Gordon, director of resident life at the Brudnick Center. “Now we are able to bring everyone down into the great room and have a musician.”
It’s a sign of more in-person Hanukkah celebrations at elder care facilities across the North Shore and Greater Boston, a dramatic change from last year.
This year, everyone at the Brudnick Center had a chance to hear Eddie Morando when he visited with his accordion for a midweek Hanukkah concert.
“He knows a ton of Jewish music,” Gordon said.
In addition, she and her staff made fried potato latkes. Each household at the Brudnick Center also has its own menorah, with candle-lighting taking place in the evening.
“In times like these our cherished traditions are elevated in significance,” said Adam Berman, CEO of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “Lighting the menorah connects us with our past and spreads light and hope. The festive nature of the holiday also provides a great boost to the spirits of all!”
Meanwhile, 2Life Communities is welcoming a traveling community art installation for Hanukkah, “Brighter Revealed,” through a partnership with the JArts nonprofit group. Created by artists Tova Speter and Emily Bhargava, “Brighter Revealed” will visit three separate 2Life campuses over the next two weeks – the Morton & Etta Shillman House in Framingham today, Dec. 2; the Golda Meir House in Auburndale Dec. 6; and the Brighton campus Dec. 7.
Jennifer Rich, director of resident services at Shillman House, said, “We’re trying to combine all of the in-person and Zoom options we can to celebrate the light and love of the holiday.”
That means bringing back the latke competition, a staple since 2011 that was not held last year. Instead, latkes were delivered to residents’ doors for Hanukkah in 2020.
“Last year, we did a little bit of [events] together in-person,” Rich said. “It was very difficult because vaccines had not come in yet. We didn’t [get them] until January.”
In 2020, each of the three houses at Peabody’s Brudnick Center had their own Hanukkah celebrations. A separate celebration was held on each floor.
“It was extremely difficult, very labor-intensive,” Gordon said.
“It was more of just keeping the floors of the Brudnick [separate], each floor celebrating, having its own celebration, for infection control. We are just now able to combine [them].”
Meanwhile, some COVID-19 protocols remain in place.
“We still can’t combine both sides of the campus,” Gordon noted. “We’re pretty much separated” from the assisted-living side of the campus, the Harriett and Ralph Kaplan Estates.
Gordon recalled the pre-pandemic days when residents from both sides of the campus could go to the same Hanukkah event.
“I think about before the pandemic,” she said. “I was very fortunate that I could have an entertainer in the great room and everyone could participate, no matter what side of the campus you were from. Other pieces have not quite changed yet. We’re getting there.”