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A year of celebrations

Vibrant Jewish community celebrates with food, rituals

Created date

November 26th, 2013

Despite being one of Seabrook s smaller faith communities, the Jewish congregation can party with the best of them. A calendar year of festivities comes to a close this month with the celebration of Hanukkah, the festival of lights. And they celebrate most if not all of their festivals with food. Even their weekly Shabbats close with a little food and wine. Those of Jewish faith make up 19% of the entire population at Seabrook. Roman Catholics come in at 44%; Protestants at 29%; less than 1% are Unitarian, Quaker, Muslim, or other; and 7% are unaffiliated or unknown. Our faith communities and their celebrations are another way for our residents to express their identity, says David Bowman, pastoral ministries manager.

Festive celebrations

The Jewish community hosts several annual and monthly activities that attract people of other faiths. Events include a Jewish film series that hosts 75 to 125 people in the Seabrook auditorium; the annual Holocaust Memorial Day candle sale in April; and the annual Hanukkah program, which takes place this month. Their most widely attended celebrations are the Passover seder in the spring and Rosh Hashanah in September. Community members Dora Lefkowitz and Sheila Intner play an integral role in these celebrations. They make more than 250 kosher matzo balls for the matzo ball soup served at the meals. We use the Manischewitz recipe and mix, Dora says. We follow the recipe exactly. Dora says she volunteered to make the matzo balls about three years ago because the ones provided by dining services were not kosher. I volunteered as long as they would provide the ingredients, which they did, she says. Seabrook has always been very good about that. Dora says the process takes about two-and-a-half hours. The people love it, she says. It s fun for us, too. Aside from the matzo balls, a member of the Jewish Council coordinates with Seabrook s catering department to coordinate meals for each festival. Celebrations like Sukkot, the festival of booths, and Simchat Torah, are a party. They eat sweets and sing songs, Bowman says. He says the community looks forward to holiday meals. They have always been a real treat, and residents have always been very pleased.

Vibrant, welcoming community

Regardless of Seabrook s vibrant Jewish and interfaith communities, Bowman says leaving their home church or synagogue weighs heavily on many people s decision to move, especially if they ve been part of a congregation for 30, 40, 50 years. Bowman adds that the interfaith aspect of Seabrook helps break barriers and encourages friendship and understanding between religions. I like the philosophy of the interfaith community here. It s one of the reasons I moved here they have an interest in the spiritual part of aging, says Mary Brotherton, who moved to Seabrook in 2009 and transitioned to its Protestant community. An interfaith committee, consisting of representatives from each faith community, meets and develops activities to enhance interfaith harmony. They help bulid awareness and relationships among community members. Activities include interfaith seminars and sing-a-longs, which have attracted as many as 200 people. Interfaith is really a matter of understanding and appreciating our differences as well as our commonalities, says Sheila.