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Eight days of celebration

Ann’s Choice Jewish community shares Hanukkah

Created date

November 20th, 2012
Ann s Choice, Erickson Living s community in Bucks County, Pa., welcomes people of all faiths and beliefs to its family of residents. Its December calendar of events celebrates a range of spiritual traditions. Jewish residents will celebrate Hanukkah with eight days of candle-lighting ceremonies. Beginning December 8, the candle lightings will include Hanukkah songs and traditional treats such as donuts. They re held at different times and in the lobbies of the community s three clubhouses so residents can choose the place and time convenient to them. Jewish residents council representatives Harriet Caston, Paul Lipsitz, and Joan Winokur conduct the ceremonies in their respective neighborhoods. Hanukkah is family time, says Ellen Newman, council president. Our children and grandchildren may be scattered across the United States or in foreign countries, but we have each other. So here at Ann s Choice, many of us gather with our neighbors to create our families. We welcome all of our neighbors to attend regardless of faith. The candle lightings commemorate the military and religious victory over Antiochus IV nearly 2,200 years ago. The victory allowed us to study Torah and to rededicate the temple, says Ellen. When the temple was rededicated, the oil that should have burned for one day continued to burn for eight days. When she first moved to Ann s Choice, Ellen attended two candle lightings each night to meet more of her neighbors. She went to the 4:15 p.m. ceremony in her Keystone neighborhood, then alternated between the Liberty Commons and Village neighborhoods for their 7:15 p.m. ceremonies.

A truly welcoming community

When Jewish people look at a retirement community, says Ellen, their first question is, Will we fit in because we re Jewish, or in spite of the fact we re Jewish? Here we are so welcome! Erickson Living is very religious neutral. There s something for every holiday and every faith. This did not happen by accident, she says, citing as an example the verse from Psalm 133 that s carved at the entrance to Keystone Clubhouse. Taken from the Old Testament, which Jews and Christians share, it proclaims: How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity. She credits Pastoral Ministries Manager Richard Haddon and the interfaith council at Ann s Choice for extending that philosophy everywhere on campus. The dining staff goes out of its way to prepare food suitable for every holiday, Ellen says. When Good Friday and Passover came on the same day, staff made sure pastoral ministries contacted Catholics, Protestants, and Jews to ensure the menu included items that would make everyone happy. The Jewish residents council strives to meet the Jewish community s social and spiritual needs throughout the year. It celebrates all the Jewish holidays, conducts quarterly memorial services and weekly resident-led Kiddush services, and offers Torah lessons.