Many weeks before Passover, it is apparent that something important is happening on the Menorah Manor campus. Our director of spiritual care, Rabbi Aaron Lever meets with the dietary staff to review the Kosher for Passover food orders for the holiday – no small task, as there are close to 200 residents and 260 employees to provide food for. Also, since there are two Seders held at the Nursing Center and at Toby Weinman Assisted Living Residence, there are many small details to review.
The entire staff attends a mandatory Passover in-service, lead by Rabbi Lever, about the details of the holiday, the reason for the special foods, the appropriate greeting for the residents and exactly what will happen during the Seders.
During the week leading up to Passover, the dietary and housekeeping staff can be seen working around the clock, thoroughly cleaning the kitchen in preparation for Passover – refrigerators and freezers are scrubbed and emptied, dishes, pots and pans, silverware, etc. are removed and replaced with Passover things, the kitchenette on each floor is cleaned and prepped, and the entire building is given a thorough pre Passover cleaning. There is so much activity!
The morning of the Seders, the tables are beautifully set for Passover; in the nursing center, over 100 places are ready with all of the Passover fixings and 50 table settings are prepared at Toby Weinman. The smells coming from the kitchen of matzah ball soup, brisket and chicken waft through the hallways, making it difficult to concentrate on work! Beautiful flower arrangements arrive from families out of town for their loved ones.
Families and friends begin to arrive for Seder, some with plants or flowers in hand for their loved ones. There is a feeling of joy and gratitude as everyone is seated for the Seder, led either by Rabbi Lever, our medical director, Dr. David LeVine and our CEO, Rob Goldstein. Prayers are said, the story of Passover is told, and songs are sung. The festive meal is delicious, and graciously served by our dietary services staff.
After the Seders, families gather with full bellies and happy hearts, in the lobby or in the garden to visit just a little longer before returning home. They reminisce about Seders in the past and loved ones who are no longer at the Seder table.
As a longtime employee, and now a family member of someone who resides in the nursing center, I am grateful to have enjoyed this wonderful holiday with my loved ones at Menorah Manor. Of course, it is different than being in my home, around my dining room table. But, I realized it isn’t where you celebrate the holiday; it is who you are with. And, because I was with those who mean so much to me, it was a sweet Passover for sure.
Chief Development Officer, Menorah Manor