There’s no denying that Hanukkah celebrations look different this year. But across our resilient community, Federation’s local partners are utilizing myriad creative – and virtual – ways to bring light to this year’s festival of lights. One is the Jewish Association for Community Living (JCL), which assists people with developmental disabilities and helps make Jewish life more accessible. This week, JCL’s Susan Fried and Bonnie Eisenberg shared the engaging ways their organization is safely celebrating Hanukkah during a year like no other.
Thanks to the ongoing generosity of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and donations to the Annual Campaign, JCL has been able to offer our clients and the community numerous enriching and enjoyable Judaic programs throughout the years. Without the Federation's support, there would not be a Judaic Programs department at JCL.
This has been a difficult and disruptive year, to say the least. Our usual delivery of programs was forced to pivot – and initially we weren't sure how best to proceed with our programming. Because most of our clients are not able to read, our presentations must be as 'tangible' as possible, which proves challenging in a virtual environment.
During the past couple of months, we’ve held two virtual programs, and we are beginning to create and post short Judaic educational videos on the JCL website. Words simply can’t convey how very happy everyone was to see each other after such a long separation. The program may have been virtual, but that didn’t stop us from seeing the joy on everyone’s faces. In the words of David Schuster, a longtime resident of our Arapahoe Road group home, "I really missed you guys!"
We’re looking forward to holding our virtual Hanukkah program on Sunday morning. As part of our program, storyteller Sara deBeer will be telling the Hanukkah story. We’ll discuss the Hanukkah symbols – the dreidel, menorah, candles, and gelt – and encourage participants to share their Hanukkah knowledge.
Photo caption: Mira, a JCL resident, is shown lighting the menorah during last year’s Hanukkah celebrations. Image courtesy of Jewish Association for Community Living.