During my time with The Jewish Pavilion, the question I am asked most often is, “What exactly does The Jewish Pavilion do?” There are different elevator speeches I have memorized and ready to present to any potential donor. One is for a senior in a facility who is considering whether to attend that day’s program. Another I share with friends and relatives who are new to the organization’s mission.
If you ask me to share the mission of The Jewish Pavilion, I have the words. But if you were to ask me who benefits most from programs provided by The Jewish Pavilion, I would truly be at a loss for words. The Passover event held at Allegro is a perfect example of why this is the case for me.
For the staff at Allegro, a senior-living facility recently opened in Winter Park, the importance of hosting the facility’s first ever Seder Table emphasized getting the details exactly right. Executive Director Debbie Michelet and Dining Services Director Dave Ticehurst held two separate meetings with Jewish Pavilion Program Director Judy Appleton prior to the event. Upon arrival that day, their diligent effort was clearly evident.
From the selection of the beautiful, sun-filled atrium as the dining location to the elegant arrangement of five-piece place-settings along tables decorated with blue and white flowers, the attention to detail and the respect of Jewish traditions was evident. Even the staff serving the event wore boutineers made from blue and white flowers, while a white flower corsage was made for Appleton.
Expressing that this event was laying the foundation for future community events at Allegro, Michelet said, “Allegro is a value-based company and we stand on those values each and every day. We commit to excellence and having a special event such as the Seder is a wonderful gathering for our residents, but also for our team to celebrate with them.”
For Appleton, the event was particularly special as her mother Miriam, a resident of Allegro, and Appleton’s daughter, Sara Procell, were in attendance. Appleton’s brother Scott, in town from Asheville NC, and his wife Marilou and their daughter Rosalia would also attend. Jewish Pavilion volunteers Faith Parmet and Peri Goldberg were also present to assist Appleton.
As residents arrived for the program, I had the chance to speak and greet several. Each of their stories held a different reason for choosing to attend. There was Lucilla Weinroth, a resident of Allegro, and her friend Martha Bernabe, who had visited that day specifically so the two Jewish women could celebrate Passover together.
Also in attendance was Donna Nickel, a new Allegro resident who took a few moments to share with me stories of her travels around the world. For Nickels, attending her first Seder affirmed her love of different cultures and desire to celebrate their customs.
There was Charlene Marvin, who used to reside in Brookdale Oviedo and had previously attended Jewish Pavilion programming at that facility. Marvin was excited to learn about that day’s Jewish Pavilion event and had invited her friend Pat Bearden, visiting from Deltona, to stay for the Seder.
Then there was the resident who arrived after the ceremony had begun. Unable to ask him his name at that point, I observed as an Allegro employee helped the gentleman from his walker to his seat. The man made a point of pulling out his yarmulke and placing it respectfully on his head.
I also watched employees of Allegro taking seats amongst the residents and invited guests. Appleton later shared with me that she overheard one resident being asked by another why she was dressed so nicely. The resident’s reply: "Well, I looked on the Internet to see what one wears to a Seder and this why I am well-dressed today!"
I saw a table of different cultures, a table of three different generations, a table of so many varied histories and livelihoods. And that is where words fail me. If someone was to ask me to give a quick statement about who receives impact from Jewish Pavilion programming, how could I?
So many different people come to a Jewish Pavilion event for so many different reasons. All the people present at Allegro that day were drawn to honor the importance of Passover. From the supplies organized by the executive director to the food preparation by the chef and staff, to the observance of ritual by the people seated at the table to the child who was attending with her grandmother at her new home, each of those individuals was impacted by that day’s program. All of us took away from that table a deeper understanding of the Jewish culture.
“I strongly believe that we are always learning, no matter how old we are,” said Michelet. “And bringing an event such as the Seder table to our community allows residents to share a meal together, learn about one another in a deeper way and really celebrate the Allegro family that we are.”