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JFS Helps Create Passover Memories

By Chelsea Karp
Volunteer Coordinator

Passover is the most celebrated of all Jewish holidays with more than 70 percent of Jewish Americans taking part in a seder. This is when the whole community can come together to remember who we are and why we are here. In an effort to ensure that every Jewish person who wanted to participate in a seder would have that opportunity, Jewish Family Service, with community partners, brought the Passover experience to a wide audience. 

Kirkland Village partnered with Jewish Family Service to bring the ritual of Passover to 30 participants. Gladys Yass, a resident, organized the celebration. She worked closely with Kirkland’s dining services to create a traditional meal featuring matzah ball soup, tzimmes, roast chicken and flourless chocolate cake. “Since we have a limited number of Jewish residents at Kirkland, we love to celebrate all the Jewish holidays. Our seder was a whopping success. Both Jewish and non-Jewish people were led by Cantor Kevin Wartell from Temple Beth El. Everyone enjoyed the spirit of Passover because of Cantor Wartell’s leadership, seder songs and the delicious food,” said Yass.

Rabbi Michael Singer of Congregation Brith Sholom, along with his religious school students and their families, brought a model seder to Atria Senior Living in Bethlehem. Each resident had their own seder plate with egg, charoset, horseradish, lettuce, parsley and salt water. The seder was followed by a luncheon of salads and kosher for Passover desserts for the combined group of 30 people. Nicole Verett, Engage Life Director for Atria, said, “The residents loved sharing the holiday with the students and hope they will come back next year to celebrate the story of Passover.” 

Later in the week, Atria hosted the families of their residents as Leon Zoller, JFS volunteer, led the group of 30 people. “It was a wonderful feeling that both the residents and I had to see the beautiful long table, individual seder plates, and the Haggadah and song sheets prepared by JFS. The residents loved to participate and the family members joined in as well, creating a warm and meaningful evening,” Zoller said.

Cantor Wartell and the Beth El religious school created their own opportunity with the residents of Country Meadows Allentown to have a model seder for their religious school students and 20 residents. As a guest at their seder, I was thrilled to see the level of respect the students showed for engaging the residents in conversation and their strong participation in the service. 

At Jewish Family Service, one of our roles is to connect people in our community through programming and partnership. At Passover, we can use our connections to ensure that everyone is able to fulfill his or her Jewish obligation to retell our collective story and make memories by celebrating the holiday together. Did we miss you this year? Want to get involved? Please reach out to me at 610-821-8722 or


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