Do you have a Jewish calendar for the current year, 5779, in your home? If you are one of the hundreds of Jewish seniors who are served by the Jewish Pavilion, chances are very good that you do have one, given to you around the High Holidays by one of our program directors. These beautiful calendars are donated by our sponsor Beth Shalom Memorial Chapel.
Each month the calendar page is turned to reveal a gorgeous photo of a scene in Israel or an item of Judaica. It makes a striking display on a wall or refrigerator. Of course, you can use it to keep track of upcoming events and appointments.
But it also serves a more important function. The calendar tracks the Hebrew months alongside the secular ones. Along with announcing days of note such as Election Day and secular holidays such as Thanksgiving, it highlights Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. It gives the weekly Torah reading and Shabbat candle lighting times for major U.S. cities.
The calendar makes it possible to function as a Jew by keeping us grounded in the Jewish year. For me it is a tangible reminder, on any given day, of my dual identities as an American and a Jew—a calendar that only focused on one of those identities just would not do. And for our seniors in living facilities, it is an important connection to their heritage and its rhythms and observances.
For example, November doesn’t have any Jewish holidays this year, but it does have the Rosh Chodesh—the beginning—of the Hebrew month of Kislev. That’s the month that ends with Chanukah, which this year begins on the evening of December 2. Even Jews who aren’t otherwise observant want to know when Chanukah begins—it’s so easy to relate to its joyful symbols and uplifting back story and, let’s face it, who doesn’t love presents? But unlike Christmas, it begins on a different day every year (sometimes even in November!), and with 8 days of celebration, it also can be hard to keep track of when it ends. Thank goodness you have your handy-dandy Jewish calendar, brought to your home with the generous support of Beth Shalom Memorial Chapel!
The Pavilion has been very fortunate to have Beth Shalom as a longtime sponsor and to have its executive director, Sammy Goldstein, on our Board for many years. Sammy’s warmth and enthusiasm for our organization makes him an uplifting presence at meetings, and his hard work on behalf of the Pavilion earned him recognition as an honoree at our 2016 Black and White Gala.
As the only Jewish funeral home in Central Florida, Beth Shalom serves a critical function in our community far beyond its annual distribution of the Jewish calendar and support of our Jewish institutions. From preneed planning to mortuary and funeral services to comfort and guidance in a very difficult time, Beth Shalom is there to help us all when we need it most.