Beginning at sunset on Sept. 8, Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Year marks the start of the High Holy Days, a spiritual season traditionally celebrated with festive meals and the lighting of candles.
To make the season more meaningful for Jewish seniors, Hebrew SeniorLife, a nonprofit health care provider, will offer care packages of food, candles, and prayer books to more than 700 Jewish seniors in the greater Boston area.
"The way I learned it in Hebrew school, Rosh Hashanah was when God opened the book of life and wrote the next year, and Yom Kippur was when he closed it," said Shani Traum, development associate for Hebrew SeniorLife who oversees the care package program. Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is a more somber holiday focused on repentance and prayers for the deceased.
"The care package program was started in 2004," Traum said. "Seniors re-enroll for every holiday they'd like to receive a package, and the program has grown by word of mouth. When we started, there were around 120 seniors. Now there are over 700, 130 in Newton and Brookline alone."
Applicants to the program must be over 70, but volunteers to coordinate and deliver the care package come from all walks of life, Traum said. The program will also deliver care packages for Hanukkah and Passover, and is looking for volunteers in November to help with the Hanukkah season. The program is free, and applicants do not have to prove physical or financial hardship to participate.
The High Holy Days package contains traditional Jewish holiday staples like chicken, kugel and matzoh ball soup, as well as important ritual items like apples and honey (eaten to ensure a sweet new year), memorial candles, and prayer books.
Traum said residents interested in receiving care packages or volunteering for the Hanukkah season should contact Hebrew SeniorLife at 781-247-8150.
Sarah Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.