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January 17, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 17, 2014 PAGE 3A Fifty seders for 350 seniors--meet the ladies behind the scene By Pamela Ruben This coming March, Jew- ish Pavilion part-time area program directors Julie Levitt, Judy Procell, Emily Newman and Melanie Baxt are each hosting a Passover seder for between 10 to 50 guests. Like most experienced host- esses, they will prepare the traditional seder plate, set a festive table, and warmly welcome guests. And when these ladies are done leading their first seder, each will host approximately 10 more before month's end. Levitt, Procell, Newman and Baxt support Jewish elders in assisted- living and nursing home facilities by coordinating and carrying out Jewish holiday celebrations, cultural events and much more. As Orlando has no Jewish home for the elderly, the Pavilion acts as a "mobile Jewish home" with the program directors at its helm. These women serve 350 Jewish seniors in more than 50 senior facilities, relying on the help of Pavilion volunteers to make every facility feel like a "Jewish home." Each coordinator works about 10 hours each week (which may vary depending on the holiday calendar), and is tasked with delivering Jewish cultural care throughout the year. Julie Levitt of Baldwin Park has been a program director with the Pavilion since 2010. She noted that her job as coordinator for the Maitland, Altamonte and Apopka areas is a"perfect fit." The part-time position allows her to be an active morn to her two teenag- ers, while maintaining a vital role in the Jewish community. The Levitts make the Pavilion a family affair. Mother-in-law, Jackie, is a longtim e member of the Friends Board, while their children, Brooke and Brandon, have grown up at- tending Pavilion events. During the Passover sea- son, Levitt will make more than 10 pounds of charoset and peel hundreds of apples. "The residents take such plea- sure when we serve traditional holiday foods. It brings back a taste of holidays past. The seniors savor all aspects of our celebrations, evenholding onto festive paper goods as decorations for their rooms," she said.. Levitt serves as a liaison between the Pavilion and the elder facilities. She shared that several facilities began serving traditional Jewish foods on Friday nights, as they became more aware of Jewish customs. Levitt and her col- leagues have familiarized the kitchen staff at elder facilities with Jewish foods, sample .menus, awelgas recipes for mzt 9 ball soup, brisket, and latkes.fm Lhrilled that most of th, isit now serve latkes at During our Chanukah the seniors seem to plate of latk their gift bags," she said. For the last several years Levitt has spearheaded "Mu- sical Mondays" at Savannah Court in Maitland', a weekly event that brings culture, entertainment, and variety to the facility's seniors. She also finds free musicians for monthly musicales at Horizon $eders on page 14A Jewish Pavilion program directors, Judy Proceli, Emily Newman, Julie Levitt, and Melanie Baxt support more than 350 Jewish seniors in elder facilities. The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) will present"To Be a Jew in the Free World: Jewish Identity Through the Lens of Modern History," the institute's new six-session Winter 2014 course that will begin during the first week of February. Rabbi Yanky Majesky of Chabad North Orlando will conduct the six-session course at 7:30 p.m. for six consecu- tive Mondays starting Feb. 3, at The Courtyard Marriott, 135 International Parkway in Lake Mary. Rabbi Yosef Konikov of Chabad South Orlando will Relet,arlce of Judaism in modern society conduct the six sessions at 7 p.m. for consecutive Tuesdays starting Feb. 4, at The South Orlando Chabad Center, 7504 Universal Blvd. in Orlando. "A recent PEW study ex- posed that 22 percent of Jews identify themselves as 'Jews with no religion' and for many, this is a clear indi- cation that the landscape of Jewish identity is changing rapidly," said Rabbi Zalman Abraham of JLI's headquar- ters in Brooklyn, N.Y. "Our objective with this course is to initiate a discussion about Jewish identity, why it is still relevant, and what we can do to make it something our children and grandchildren will cherish for generations to come." In To Be a Jew in the Free World, participants wi!l con- front questions of allegiance and issues in which Judaism and contemporary society appear to be in conflict. Looking into the past, the course explores a series of fascinating case studies, such as arguments made in the 1650s to convince Oliver Cromwell to readmit Jews to England, and how Ulysses S. Grant's 1862 expulsion of the Jews became a defin- ing issue in his presidential election. To be a Jew in the Free World is unique in that it will likely represent the first nationwide effort to bring the Jewish community together to address these important issues since the findings of the PEW report were released in October 2013. "The subject of identity is close to the hearts of many in our Jewish community, yet it's a subject that is rarely discussed nowadays," said Rabbi YankyMajesky the local JLI instructor in Lake Mary. "The course provides a rare opportunity to address this is- sue that will benefit the wider Orlando community, and we invite everyone to attend." Like all JLI programs, To Be a Jew in the Free World is designed to appeal to people at all levels of Jewish knowledge, including those without any prior experience or back- ground in Jewish learning. All JLI courses are open to the public, and attendees need not be affiliated with a particular synagogue, temple, or other house of worship. Interested students may call Chabad of North Or- lando 407-878-3011, Chabad of South Orlando 407-354- 3660 or visit www.myJLI. corn for registration and other course-related information. JLI, the adult education branch of Chabad Lubavitch, offers programs in more than 622 U.S. cities and in numer- ous foreign locations, including Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Rus- sia, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Venezu- ela. More than 320,000 students have attended JLI classes since the organization was tbundea in 1998. Local Hillel group visits Kiryat ],4otzkin This December, Central Florida Hillel's Taglit Birth- right Group had the oppor- tunity to visit Kiryat Motzkin, an Israeli city, north of Haifa that has a long-term partner- ship with our Greater Orlando community through the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando and the Partnership- 2Gether program. On their visit, the students first visited the Mashmaut center, where participants met and spoke with Holocaust survivors and were fascinated to hear their stories. Next they visited the Weizman school's kindergar- ten classes. They danced and sang with the children, then toured the younger classes section of the elementary school and joined them for a light luneh and to help them make their cooking activity. In both places the Birthright participants received souve- nirs that were made especially for them. Through Partnership- 2Gether, the Jewish Federa- tion of Greater Orlando helps the community by funding a leadership program through many initiatives including The Kiryat Motzkin Youth Unit that 150 teenagers par- ticipate in to help build tomor- row's Israeli leaders. In Kiryat Motzkin, many Holocaust survivors participate at no charge in the activities of Mashmaut Center thanks in part to funding from JFGO. Each year funding from J FGO allows low-income families Students meet Holocaust survivors at the Mashmaut Center. Students visit the Weizman school's kindergarten classes where they danced and sang with the children. to benefit from remedial, teaching at the Mashal after- school facility forstudentswith learning and other disabilities. Sifriyat Pijama is a reading en- hancement program that now operates in Kiryat Motzkin. Kindergarteners enjoy receiv- ing new books each month that teach Jewish traditions and values. The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando's mission is to nurture a unified Jewish community that transcends generations and neighbor- hoods. To learn more about its im- pact in Israel or to learn more about the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando's program- ming initiatives please visit www.jfgo.org. Dedicated To Serving Our Jewish Community Call on Central Florida's Exclusively Jewish Funeral Home for Details Regarding: Traditional Jewish Funerals Non-Traditional Services Interstate Shipping Pre-Arranged Funerals (Shalom Assurance Plan) Headstone, Grave Markers (Cardinal Memorials) 407-599-1180 640 Lee Rd. Orlando, Florida W.E. "Manny" Adams, LFD Samuel P. (Sammy) Goldstein, Executive Director