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Jewish New Year spreads joy at Linden Ponds

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August 23rd, 2010
MA0910_JewishNewYear
MA0910_JewishNewYear

[caption id="attachment_13906" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Franz Wolff helped incorporate speakers into the Jewish Community s meetings. (Photo by Setarreh Massihzadegan)"][/caption] This month s Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, marks another opportunity for the Jewish Community at Linden Ponds to celebrate the renewed enthusiasm among existing group members and the steady influx of new participants. One of three organized faith groups at Linden Ponds, the Jewish Community has been in existence for nearly six years, but it just recently expanded its event offerings and has grown to more than 80 people, making it an increasingly prominent spiritual group on campus. Cochair Franz Wolff has played a part in the group s growth. It s been a joy in many ways, Wolff says of his role, which he took on earlier this year. There are wonderful people, there s lots to do, [and] I feel like I have the time and the commitment to do it. Of the group he adds, We re on a somewhat improved path. The Jewish Community meets twice a month, once for a general meeting and once for a service led by Cantor Bruce Malin, who has been a beloved fixture in the group for the last two years. The services begin with an hour study group, followed by an hour service, and culminate in a meal at one of the Linden Ponds restaurants. Wolff recently introduced the idea of inviting a speaker to the monthly meetings, a well-received change. Reverend Paul Sprecher of First Parish Church in Hingham was the first invited speaker. Sprecher, who voluntarily teaches two courses on varying topics of faith each year at Linden Ponds, spoke about the life and death of Jesus. Wolff says Sprecher s talk introduced information that was new to many members of the group.

Celebrations and education

This month, the group will pick up with another special speaker in addition to the Rosh Hashanah service, which is longer and more somber than the typical Sabbath services. You re making plans and promises for a new year of stimulation and being good and obedient and helpful to others and all the good things that a good citizen should be, Wolff says. The Jewish Community also celebrates special services each year for Yom Kippur and Passover. In addition, the group put on a multi-event program earlier this year led by Linden Ponds residents Norman and Renee Feingold, to memorialize the Holocaust. The program included visits from local students who were studying the time period. Mr. Feingold explains, This year instead of looking back and remembering the horrors, we would look ahead and see how the next generation of youth were studying and in some cases were even being more involvedthan the residents [of Linden Ponds]. The Feingolds were also especially encouraged by the level of involvement in the program by those outside of the Jewish faith. I am personally so amazed by the warm reception as well as the participation, Mr. Feingold says. People are so eager to help us so we can get the message out, and it makes living at Linden Ponds an excitement. Members expect the focus of the Jewish Community to include reaching out to those within our own community who need support and attention, says Mrs. Feingold, referencing those who live at Linden Ponds extended-care neighborhood, Renaissance Gardens. In July, the Jewish Community expanded its programming by conducting a Sabbath service for the Jewish residents of Renaissance Gardens and their family members in the Garden Room. Sandy Katz, who lives at Linden Ponds, led the service with assistance from his wife and former Jewish Community President Estelle Katz. Going forward, the group hopes to continue this offering.

Valuable heritage

As the Jewish Community continues to grow, Wolff dedicates his time to accommodating its needs. Members have the flexibility to choose their level of involvement, but Wolff says, Some of the people who weren t very active in the past are getting renewed interest, which is very nice is to see. Wolff was active in a temple where he lived previously in Florida but had not joined a new congregation when he moved back to the Boston area for his wife s medical treatment. When he moved to Linden Ponds nearly three years ago, Wolff was immediately interested in its Jewish Community. I want to support the heritage, he says. It s a valuable heritage and it s something some people want a little of and some people want a lot of. Wolff is active at Linden Ponds not only in the Jewish Community, but also as a staff member of Life@Linden Ponds, the community s emagazine; as a participant in Great Decisions, a discussion program developed by the Foreign Policy Association; and as a regular at the fitness center. Of Linden Ponds as a whole, Wolff says, It s just a wonderful way to live. The humdrum of life is gone.

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