The Spirit of Shabbat Was in the Air
Friday, May 7th was a picture perfect Southern California afternoon. The courtyard at Grancell Village was sun drenched—yet, as it was midafternoon, there was plenty of shade for those who preferred it. A similar scene was unfolding at Eisenberg Village. Then it happened. After a year of public health regulations, so important to keep everyone safe, there was finally a green light to, carefully and cautiously, hold the first outdoor Shabbat services at the Jewish Home for 2021.
One by one, residents arrived, resolute in their commitment to celebrate the Shabbat in person and, with social distancing in place, among fellow residents.
Thankfully, services never stopped at the Home. Even at the height of the pandemic, thanks to extraordinary measures taken by our spiritual care and information technology departments, virtual services were provided each week. But now, the excitement and gratitude of the people on both campuses that services could once again be held outside and together was palpable.
Not only were residents delighted to be attending the service—there was pure joy in seeing one another. A staff member was stopped as she walked by, by a woman who requested she tug on the sleeve of another nearby resident to get her attention so that the two friends could safely reconnect prior to services starting. They told one another how great each looked.
As everyone settled in at Grancell Village, Skirball Director of Spiritual Life Rabbi Karen Bender asked people to share what they were grateful for as they came out for the service. Person after person shared in clear, loud voices, they were grateful for the staff and the extraordinary care they received during this past year and the Jewish Home for being here to keep them safe. In addition, there were several who expressed special thanks to the Home's dedicated spiritual leaders.
Special prayer books were printed for the residents. You could watch the aides dutifully help the residents follow along, turning the pages for them as they joined in the prayers and songs led by the rabbis.
For those who could not attend in person, the service was livestreamed on the residents' televisions. For those who did attend in person at Grancell Village, they were treated to clear sound thanks to a generous donation for a new sound system from Jewish Home Board Chair Andrew Berman.
They say it takes a village, and on a recent beautiful Friday afternoon, many came together to observe Shabbat and the special village that is the Los Angeles Jewish Home.