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‘Pretty lively’

Linden Ponds’ Jewish community turns ten

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June 29th, 2016
Linden Ponds Jewish community’s founding president Estelle Katz is pictured here with current president Al Lemack.

Linden Ponds Jewish community’s founding president Estelle Katz was honored last year in conjunction with the group’s tenth anniversary. Estelle is pictured here with current president Al Lemack.

Last year, the Linden Ponds Jewish community celebrated its tenth anniversary. 

The Jewish population at the Erickson Living community in Hingham, Mass., represents about 10% of the total resident population. The tight-knit and active group organizes a variety of educational and entertaining events, as well as holiday celebrations throughout the year. 

Part of something

Al Lemack, who moved to Linden Ponds from Florida about three years ago to be closer to his family, resides as current president of the Jewish community. He says he’s always enjoyed staying busy and being actively involved in the community where he lives, and Linden Ponds is no exception.

“You search around and find people who really want to get involved instead of just be retired,” Al says. “If you ask anybody in this community, they want to get involved, and they have the desire to stay busy and keep their minds active.”

As one of the Linden Ponds Jewish community’s most popular ongoing activities, its monthly presentations feature guest speakers and films on a variety of interesting topics. 

Past presentations have focused on Eleanor Roosevelt and the way she ran her household and a program that helps inner-city Boston schoolchildren by teaching them how to cook and bake. 

For May, the group is hosting a presentation by Anita Diamant, a journalist who has written extensively on Jewish issues and worked for the Boston Globe and Boston Magazine. She also authored The New York Times bestsellers The Boston Girl, The Red Tent, and several other books.

“The monthly speakers and films aren’t always related to Judaism,” Al says. “They are on subjects of general interest.”

Festive celebrations

Cecile Arnold is no stranger to being active in a Jewish community. Her husband, Stephen, is a rabbi, and her mother was a synagogue sisterhood president. 

“I grew up with synagogue activity around me, so it’s very natural to me,” Cecile says. 

Cecile has been involved with the Linden Ponds Jewish group since she moved to the community almost five years ago from Easton. She puts together the group’s newsletter and plays a big role in organizing holiday celebrations. 

For Hanukah, Cecile works with Linden Ponds’ catering department to put on a festive meal of latkes and brisket with traditional jelly donuts for dessert. Last year, a klezmer band performed and about 100 people attended the party. 

In autumn, Cecile organizes a celebration for Sukkot, a joyful Jewish holiday that commemorates the 40-year period during which Israelites were wandering in the desert and living in temporary shelters. It is customary to build a sukkah, a symbolic “temporary shelter” that is decorated with fruits of the fall harvest.

“We have a nice pergola outside the swimming pool, and we decorate it with fruit and cornstalks. It’s quite lovely,” Cecile says.

Each year, the Linden Ponds Jewish community also hosts an event in remembrance of the Holocaust. Last year, the program explored women’s role in the Holocaust. 

Cecile says this year’s two-part event, taking place on May 7 and May 11, will examine Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai during the Holocaust. Attendees will watch the film Shanghai Ghetto and hear from two speakers, one who was actually a refugee in Shanghai and another who’s the son of a Jew who fled to Shanghai.

For Passover, the group hosts a large Seder meal. A big group gathers to enjoy the traditional meal, featuring matzoh, bitter herbs, sweet fruit and nuts, and other symbolic foods.

Once a year, the Jewish community honors its members who have turned 90. The nonagenarians are recognized before Friday night services, and each one receives a corsage.

“The cantor does a special blessing, and we have extra refreshments before dinner,” Cecile says. “I definitely think it’s worth celebrating.”

Newsworthy

Cecile spent part of her career working in communications, making her an ideal candidate to produce the Linden Ponds Jewish community’s monthly newsletter. 

The newsletter includes information about upcoming events as well as recaps and photos of past events. It also includes a section with articles about members and short introductions to new Jewish residents, so the people in the group can get to know more about one another.

“We have a lot of Jewish people here, and many of them are pretty lively,” Cecile says.

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