CHELSEA — April 15 marked a special day at Cohen Florence Levine Estates Assisted Living. The residence held its first Passover Seder since the pandemic, creating a sense of excitement among residents and staff alike. Led by Cantor Ellen Farber, who has presided over past Seders since the assisted living opened in 1996, over 60 residents came together for the first night of Passover.
The dining room was set with 22 tables laden with matzah, wine cups, Seder plates and haggadahs. Amidst songs, prayers and a festive meal, the assisted living residents reveled in being together to celebrate this major holiday.
“This is my 26th Passover Seder at Cohen, Florence, Levine Estates,” said Cantor Farber. “Tonight we celebrate not only the miracle of Passover, but also the miracle of this amazing place, which sets the standard for assisted living residences throughout the United States.” Jewish and non-Jewish residents listened with rapt attention as the cantor told the story of the Jewish exodus to Egypt.
“It’s wonderful to be able to have this Seder in-house and celebrate again,” said Michele Honohan, activities director at Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “Things are finally getting back to normal after the pandemic.” Honohan said that the week leading up to the Seder was a busy time as staff prepared extensively for the event by deep-cleaning the kitchen area as well as the linens and dishes used at the Seder.
For the residents, this event was especially momentous given the challenges of the pandemic. Norman Frisch, who grew up in Swampscott and is now a resident of the assisted living facility, brought his mom Bernice Frisch. Bernice, who is known as Bunny, is a much beloved resident at the Leonard Florence Center for Living, the skilled nursing residence next door. “We cherished the opportunity to attend a traditional Passover Seder together,” said Frisch. “The holiday rituals are important to us both.”
“This Seder is meaningful to so many people,” said Adam Berman, chief executive officer of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “It’s a nice mixture of both the spiritual fulfillment that people are looking for as well as the togetherness and the opportunity to reflect and think about our past and what all of that means to us moving forward.”