2016 JFS Model Seder

Randall Lieberman

Jewish Journal

Apr 5, 2016

About 250 senior clients of Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services who came together for the agency’s annual Pre-Passover Model Seder at B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton.

Holocaust survivor Renia Chadajo of Boca Raton, was one of around 250 senior citizens who are clients of Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services — the Boca Raton-based Jewish social-services agency — who came together for the agency's annual Pre-Passover Model Seder recently at B'nai Torah Congregation in central Boca Raton.

"It was beautiful. It's always beautiful," Chadajo said. "The way they think of us and put this together for us — what's not to like?"

The seder (festive meal) is open to any client of the agency — whether they use services for seniors, case management, the food pantry or benefits for Holocaust survivors. Most of the invitees are clients that have no family in the area and this may be their only seder to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover this year.

"We've been holding these seders for about 25 years," said Danielle Hartman, Jewish Family Services (JFS) president and CEO. "It allows our clients who may or may not be able to go to a seder on the actual holiday itself to get a taste of the holiday and to get out and have some human connection. Our clients look forward to it all year."

Hadassah Cukerfein, another Holocaust survivor from Boca Raton, agreed with Hartman's assessment.

'"What JFS does for us is very much appreciated," Cukerfein said. "You see how we get all dressed up to go out of the house."

Henry Reich said he helped organize getting a group of about 50 Holocaust survivors to this seder from the Century Village community in Boca Raton — including himself, Chadajo and Cukerfein.

"I want to do everything I can to help out what JFS is doing for us," Reich said.

Hartman added that she and the entire JFS organization is extremely grateful for the generous donors that allow the agency to bring this seder to the community — including residents of the Boca West Federation Committee, which sponsored the event for the eighth year in a row, as well as other event sponsors Debbie and Howard Belford of Boca Raton and Suzanne and Jack Jacobson of Boca Raton.

"We always teach our kids to help people who need a little extra support," said Bernard Friedman, a representative of the Boca West Federation Committee. "This is the first time I have made this seder myself and it was so much better than I even expected. To see how happy all the people are and to see the smiles on their faces is a very touching thing."

Both Debbie Belford and Suzanne Jacobson said it was the Jewish traditions they learned in their own families that played a huge role in why they helped sponsor the JFS Model Seder.

Belford said: "It's so important to make sure all Jews have a place to go on Passover. I think back to the seders we had at my grandparents' home and it makes me feel good how lucky I am to be able to help other people have a lovely seder like this."

Added Jacobson: "Being raised in an Orthodox home, I remember that our entire family traveled from where ever they were to be home for Passover. We always made room somehow for whoever wanted to come, especially if they had no place else to go. In my mind, JFS is now my family and I get to celebrate Passover with all these great people."

Howard Horowitz, director of the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program at JFS, led the service along with five students (Hannah Appleton, Ashley Asal, Dana Levine, Jenna Rosenbusch and Madeline Weinstein) from Donna Klein Jewish Academy, a Jewish day school in Boca Raton, who participated in the seder by reciting the "Four Questions" and singing traditional seder songs.

Judi Donoff, JFS board chair, commented about the seder: "Our board works very hard, our staff works very hard and our volunteers work very hard to put this event together for our clients. Everyone should have a place to go for Passover."

For more information about JFS, visit www.ralesjfs.org, or call 561-852-3333.

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