IN THE NEWS: Seder smiles

Randall P. Lieberman, Staff Writer

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Apr 8, 2014

Eva Kolatka, 96, who lives in Century Village in Boca Raton, still remembers when she used to host Passover seders for 20 to 30 people in her own home in Peabody, Mass.

As Kolatka is no longer able to host a big family seder, and as she has very little family in Florida, Kolatka was faced with not being able to celebrate the Passover holiday at all this year.

Instead, Kolatka decided to join 220 other clients of the Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) at its Pre-Passover Model Seder, held at B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton on April 1.

In fact, Kolatka's two daughters — Marcia Ginsburg of San Francisco and Sally Avrin of Brockton, Mass. — flew in for the seder to be with their mom.

"It's so great that my two daughters are here with me," Kolatka said. "I wanted them to come with me and see how we celebrate here."

Said Ginsburg: "This is really nice that seniors have a place to go and be together on a special holiday."

Added Avrin: "I think it's wonderful. I'm glad to be here with my mom and sister."

Danielle Hartman, Jewish Family Services CEO, said the seder was open to any client of the agency, whether they use services for seniors, case management, the food pantry or benefits for Holocaust survivors.

"We've been holding these seders for 15 years," Hartman said. "It allows our clients who may or may not be able to go to a seder on the actual holiday to get a taste of the holiday and to get out and have some human connection. Our clients look forward to it all year."

Said JFS client Robert Nussbaum, 68, of Delray Beach: "I think the seder is wonderful. I met some people here today and made some new friends."

"Rabbi Howard Horowitz led the service, along with parachaplains Estelle and Harry Green, and Donna Klein Jewish Academy students Sammy Koolik, 14, and Dara Weinstein, 14.

For the sixth year in a row, residents of Boca West Country Club raised the necessary funds to put on the JFS seder through the efforts of Boca West's Federation volunteers, who raise money to fund this event on top of all the usual fundraising they do for the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.

Betty Apple, who has spearheaded the Boca West effort to support JFS, said that all the hard work is worth it to see a room full of smiling faces at the JFS Model Seder.

Apple said: "Many of these people look forward the whole year to getting all dressed up for this event. It is their social outing of the year. Six years ago, JFS sent out a letter saying it could no longer afford to hold its model seders. At the same time, Federation asked each country club community to support one of its programs. We felt moved to keep this program alive."

Apple said her committee sends around a letter to Boca West residents, asking for donations of $18 (or more) to help fund the seder. Apple said most people are moved to help and some donate as much as $100 or $500.

Hartman concluded: "There is just no way we could do these seders without the contributions of the wonderful people of Boca West. A seder like this can run in the neighborhood of $12,000 to $15,000. Much of the expense is in the transportation and extra help necessary to keep the many frail, elderly clients from getting hurt."

Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) provides help, hope and humanity through a comprehensive range of programs and services which support people of all ages and beliefs. With locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, JFS programs and services include food and financial assistance, senior services, vocational training, counseling and mental health services and many volunteer opportunities. Funding is provided by private and corporate support, grants, special events and individuals who reach thousands in need each year. For more information about JFS volunteer opportunities and services for seniors, contact 561-852-3333. Learn more at ruthralesjfs.org.

Photo Caption:
The daughters of Eva Kolatka, 96, center, of Boca Raton, including Sally Avrin, left, of Brockton, Mass., and Marcia Ginsburg, right, of San Francisco, flew in to be with their mom at the JFS Pre-Passover Model Seder on April 1. (Staff photo/Anna Collins / March 31, 2014)

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